It Ain’t Me, It Ain’t Me….

One of the questions that I have to answer several times a year is, "Why haven’t you gone into school leadership, Bill?  You’d make a great principal." 

Honestly, there are a lot of things about school leadership that I think would be intriguing. Having worked as a classroom teacher for over a decade, I bring a measure of credibility to the position that I could probably leverage to drive change. My experience as a member of a professional learning team would also serve me well, giving me an "insider’s look" into the kinds of experiences that truly change instructional practices in a building.

I would also bring a pretty comprehensive understanding of educational policy to the position. Having been surrounded by the policy-wonk superstars who drop into the digital workroom that is The Teacher Leaders Network, there aren’t many issues that I don’t feel comfortable talking about.  With a little spit and polish, I’d probably slip into the role without making too many waves.

But just when I build up the courage to take the plunge, I come across articles like this one titled:

Struggling Principals Targeted

Chicago plan gives them one year to improve or be fired.

No pressure, huh?  If that wasn’t intimidating enough, try this part of "the plan:"

The new policy creates two levels of support. The principals who "need improvement" in one or more areas of management–from staff hiring and parent communication to special education requirements and budget planning–will have up to a year to work with their area supervisors to address their shortcomings.

Those who don’t improve after this, or do not meet job expectations, will be placed on corrective action. Their names will be published in a public board report and they’ll have four to six months to turn things around. If they don’t, the principal would be dismissed, removed or face other actions.

I won’t argue that school leaders shouldn’t be held accountable. After all, no single individual has more influence over the success or failure of a building. But does anyone else ever wonder if we’ve gone too far in our "drive for accountability?" Public shame and ridicule seems to be the "new normal" when it comes to education reform. Crisis is common and negative labels are the latest vogue.

And all of it only serves to drive me further away from the principal’s office.