Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wonkitorial: The New Model School Administrator

In New York City, those who can.... teach.

Those who can't teach because they can't get a teaching license...
become principals.

It seems as though there are more and more young people who teach for a minimal number of years and then get the hell out of Dodge obtain (often through political patronage) an administrative position that pays more to "start" than a classroom teacher earns with 20 years experience, a Master's degree, and a desk-drawer full of letters from grateful students and parents.

So... what sort of boss can often be found in the offices of many public school systems around the country?

What we frequently have is an (often very young) individual who is tasked with supervising teachers (at site or district level) but often has little or no track record of proven teaching success, an individual who is expected to evaluate and implement curricula but rarely has a thorough grasp of curricular issues, an individual who is responsible for seeing that applicable state and federal statutes (as well as board policies) are enforced in the school(s) but often has little background in EduLaw, and an individual who is charged with disciplining and counseling students but has little or no successful experience working with children or parents.

Sounds like the New Model School Administrator to me.

It seems to me that often the sole qualification that these young and inexperienced New Model Administrators possess is some sort of personal and/or political loyalty to the superintendent who appoints them and the (often) superintendent's rubber-stamp governing board that confirms them.

It also seems to me that in all-too-many public school districts, a "check" or "balance" is missing somewhere...

Is successful teaching experience a prerequisite for being a successful school administrator? Perhaps not. But if we accept as a given that past performance is more often than not a reliable indicator of future success, then having a proven record of success before becoming a Boss can't hurt.
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