Too Many U.S. Principals Lack The Capacity To Lead


Reposted from The Atlantic:

“A new report, released Tuesday by the principalThomas B. Fordham Institute, says too many U.S. principals lack the capacity to lead. After tracking five urban districts across the country—nearly all of which had tried to improve principal hiring practices in recent years—the study concluded that being a principal is a high-pressure, grueling, and underpaid job, where responsibilities significantly exceed authority.

Fordham’s solution: Stop viewing principals as “glorified teachers” and more as “executives with expertise in instruction, operations, and finance.” To that end, principals should earn considerably more than other school staff who have less responsibility. And like all effective managers, principals need the ability to build a leadership team, so their duties—from academics to discipline—don’t overwhelm them. Make principalship a “phenomenal career,” the argument goes, and great people will apply.

One way to fix the leadership shortage may be not increased salary, but additional funding for assistant principals, school counselors, and other administrative support staff. Principals are like all people with high responsibility, according to Kate Rousmaniere, professor of educational leadership at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio and author of The Principal’s Office: A Social History of the American School Principal. They work better in teams, where they can share the workload. The task is to strike the right balance. How much should we pay principals to attract new talent, and how much additional support do they need to meet the demands of the modern job? How do we make the role more appealing to promising candidates without pouring more money into retaining ineffective people already in place?

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