In today's New York Post, there are more revelations about Principal Marcella Sills of PS 106 in Far Rockaway.and how the DOE ignored pleas to remove her I have also been informed that the Principal never taught in a New York City classroom before being put in charge of the school. Who was responsible for this? The finger is pointed at ex-Chancellor Joel Klein, Regent Kathleen Cashin (Superintendent at the time of Ms. Sills hiring as Principal), and of course District 27 Superintendent Michelle Lloyd-Bey who not only allowed Ms. Sills to continue to be the Principal but ignored all the complaints since 2006, unbelievable. The Post also reported what a student said about her school.
In my first assignment this year, I was sent to a school in Central Queens that also had a "Leadership Academy Principal" and he actually bragged to me that he never taught in a New York City classroom. When I asked him very politely "doesn't it impede your ability to properly evaluate your teachers", his response to me was that he was trained to be the CEO of the school and that's the job of his Assistant Principal to inform him of the effectiveness of his teaching staff. I was, of course, appalled that he was not an instructional leader and didn't seem to care to be one.
In my "bad principals" and "Leadership Academy principal"columns, almost all the principals highlighted are "Leadership Academy principals" and its time for the DOE to stop funding this group and go back to the way it used to be. First a long term effective classroom teacher (minimum ten years) an Assistant Principal (minimum five years) and then Principal, if the person showed that he or she was a "team player" who fostered an environment of collaboration in the school. In the Diane Ravitch column, the Tweed insider said the following about the "Leadership Academy principals".
NYC’s non-geographic school support network structure and the central bureaucracy at Tweed are bloated, ineffective, inefficient, and lead to patronage. Of the non-geographic networks a full 1/3 received ineffective or developing quality ratings. An audit by the NYC Comptroller’s Office found that “it is difficult to determine whether or not that support increased the efficiency of the school’s day-to-day operations… a network’s contribution to the scores allotted to the schools cannot be directly ascertained.” This is not surprising. We do not assign police precincts to police blocks in different neighborhoods, even if those blocks have similarities. We do not have fire stations cover fires in different boroughs. So why should our schools be supported by teams responsible for 30 schools spread all across the city? A policy report by the NYC Comptroller revealed that this structure blocks parent influence in local school governance. The opportunities for conflicts of interest, patronage, and corruption, supposedly a concern under a geographic structure are, unfortunately, all too plentiful in the centralized structure. Favoritism is rampant. For example, schools were forced to hire Aspiring Principal Program (APP)/Leadership Academy principals despite the data showing that student suspensions increase, the” performance drop… is larger at the schools hiring an APP graduate” and over 40% of APP graduates are no longer principals in the same school after 3 years.
By the way, who spearheaded the hiring of these inept and dangerous "Leadership Academy principals"? Yes, you guessed it, the one and only Eric Nalderstern who also gave us the useless Children First Networks listed by the Tweed insider as being of dubious value to the schools and other less than wonderful changes that will take a decade to reverse. Thanks Eric for your contribution in destroying the New York City school system.
The bottom line if we are to improve the New York City Public School System lets bring back how principals used to be selected based upon their ability, collaboration, and excellent teaching skills.