In the last 10 years, I have worked under 10 different principals, one for 3 1/2 years. They come, they go. When scores don’t improve, they get moved to another school or let go. In one school, two retired guys were filling in for a year, each trying to stay under the maximum number of days that a retired principal can work in public schools under the current pension system. One principal lost her job and was replaced by two consultants. One principal pleaded with teachers to help her raise scores since her job might be on the line. She was replaced the following year. My favorite principal was shifted to another school within his district because of a government grant: Strings attached to that grant required the replacement of the school’s administration. Another principal and assistant principal were fired in February to be replaced with an interim principal whose evaluation of me that year never made it to my permanent file. Or the original principal’s evaluation never made the file. Who knows? The district office asked me and other teachers if we could provide them with copies of our evaluations since the district seemed to have lost a number of these. Chaos ruled that year.*
Eduhonesty: Other teachers and I have discussed this. In our view, part of the Principal Problem stems from frantic efforts to boost test scores. Many of these Principals had put good systems into place. They had instituted clever ideas and were tracking progress. But if the scores don’t immediately go up in Year One, too often Principals don’t get to see Year Two or Three.
Struggling districts, like oceanliners, cannot turn on a dime. Especially by middle school and high school, no quick fixes exist for the knowledge deficits that lead to low scores. Yet fixes that take time may never have a chance. Former Principal Fred’s longer reading blocks and afternoon phonics program fall victim to replacement Principal Sally’s new, computer-based reading intervention. Either one of these plans might yield the desired results, given time, but that time does not happen. Teachers and administrators spend Year One learning the new phonics program. During Year Two, the longer reading block is shortened to make room for the new computer-based intervention, rendering all the hours spent in the now-abandoned phonics meetings and professional development (PD) useless, even as the new computer intervention spawns its own set of meetings and PDs.
*Did an angry or frustrated person deliberately lose those forms? I don’t think it’s inconceivable.