Last week the National Journal asked about the role of public school principals, referencing a new report from the Center for Public Education that says a principal's responsibilities have grown significantly since the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act, perhaps making the job "undoable."
In my response, I point out that principals need better preparation and more flexibility to succeed as both administrative and instructional leaders.
On preparation: Principal preparation programs tend to devote more time to issues like educational law and school financing than to the daily demands of today’s school leaders in areas such as accountability, school improvement, parent and community engagement, and the recruitment and selection of teachers. Many principal training programs also lack opportunities for quality on-the-job learning. Many principals also lack preparation for working with particular grade spans, leaving them unknowledgeable about what they should see and hear in a first grade classroom, for example, as opposed to a seventh grade classroom.
On flexibility: Principals also need more flexibility when it comes to their school’s budget, staffing, professional development for teachers and other needs. In some cases, principals don’t have much control over who is teaching in their school. That doesn’t make any sense. Principals should be able to hire and place in the classroom whomever they deem most qualified and skilled to meet the needs of the children in their school. Principals should also have the flexibility to hire additional staff if necessary to take on administrative and operational duties, so they can focus more on curriculum and instruction.
Read my full response here.