Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Principal Quality Is A Major Factor Why Schools Struggle Academically.
When I was a student I used to buy Marvel comic books and "Archie" for my younger sister One of the characters in the Archie comic book was the Riverdale high school Principal, Mr. Weatherbee. In the comic book Mr. Weatherbee was looked at as the instructional leader of the school and was highly respected for his integrity by both staff and students.
Mr. Weatherbee was a composite of the many old time and long-term educators who started out as a teacher for a decade or more and worked his way up to eventually become a Principal. Mr. Weatherbee was educationally, .all knowing and mentored his staff. He was highly respected head of the school.
Fast forward to the present day New York City schools and few principals followed the path of Mr. Weatherbee. Over 25% of the present day principals are graduates from the infamous "Leadership Academy" and until 2015, many graduates had minimal.classroom teaching experience and quite a few never achieved tenure as a teacher. Even when Chancellor Carmen Farina changed the rules and required that educators have a minimum of seven years of school experience (from three and not necessarily in the classroom). However, there were exceptions and people already in the program were grandfathered in Therefore, a greater percentage of newly minted principals running their schools came from the "Leadership Academy".
These "Leadership Academy" principals, were accepted in the program based upon who they knew, not what they knew. It was not uncommon that the teacher was accepted to the "Leadership Academy" by a recommendation of a Superintendent or a DOE official at Tweed. The result was these principals didn't think of themselves as instructional leaders but as the CEO of their school. Many practiced a top down management approach and collaboration with the school staff was seen as an inconvenience and a bar from implementing polices that the Principal wants to employ.
These "Leadership Academy" principals were known to bully staff and were encouraged to run the school as they pleased by the DOE. Is it any wonder that New York City has over half the State's 3020-a cases when New York City teachers make up only 30% of all teachers in New York State?
While there are many factors why schools struggle academically. Poverty, segregation, teaching experience, and student discipline policies. A major factor is also poor administration and the Principal. Maybe the new Chancellor will release the fatal flaw in improving academically struggling schools. The poor quality of recently appointed principals from the "Leadership Academy".