is Time to Reexamine the Responsibilities of Supervisors &
got mail!” or some other signal on the computer demands your immediate
attention. An entire ream of paper lies at the foot of the fax
machine. The mailman has left what appears to be his entire mailbag
in your office. If you are lucky enough to have several phone
lines, they have not stopped ringing since your arrival. Students,
parents, teachers, and other staff members are lined up at your
door competing for your undivided attention and the school day
hasn’t even officially started. Welcome to the world of the principal
and the assistant principal.
Today’s school leaders are expected to do more and more. They
are held accountable for everything. But being an effective educational
leader requires more than just organizing, budgeting, and managing
a school. Not only are educational leaders expected to spend significant
time in classrooms evaluating teacher performance, they must be
able to interpret and use test data and other statistics and provide
teachers with the expertise and resources to improve instruction.
In addition to instructional matters, school leaders are expected
to maintain a safe and orderly environment, hold meetings with
countless committees, effectively “market” their schools, develop
and implement a school plan and budget, oversee renovations and
custodial services, maintain appropriate records in a timely fashion,
community outreach and fundraising, work with parents and answer
all of the countless requests for information,and statistics thrown
at them. Is it any wonder that more and more principals and assistant
principals are saying the job is no longer doable?
It is time to seriously reexamine the roles and responsibilities
of principals, assistant principals and other supervisors and
administrators. Already there are reports coming from across the
country that school administrators feel their working conditions
and cumulative stresses are becoming unbearable. Higher standards,
critical media attention, lack of support, legislative wrangling
over governance and the impact of budget reductions and technology
demanding immediate feedback are contributing to the creation
of a leadership crisis.
We cannot continue to insist that principals do and be everything.
In the private sector, when business leaders set specific goals
for their organizations, they acknowledge that a manager cannot
oversee the entire operation without appropriate human resources,
training, tools and technical assistance. Successful companies
pride themselves on keeping their middle level managers well trained.
Some even demand that a significant portion of an employee’s annual
work time be spent in professional training programs.
Unfortunately, our public schools seem to be doing it backwards.
Instead of focusing on needed resources and professional support
to encourage school leaders to excel, outrageous expectations
and demands are causing principals and assistant principals to
either retire or look to calmer and greener fields. This in turn
causes aspiring leaders who understand the true nature of school
leadership in urban schools to become more and more reluctant
to apply for vacancies.
Research has shown that successful schools have principals who
are immersed in instruction. Yet, job demands often distract principals
from that primary focus. It is time for legislators, school boards,
parents and communities to work with school leaders to determine
what it takes to run a successful school and to encourage educational
professionals to become school administrators and supervisors.
Only by providing the support principals and assistant principals
need to do their jobs will we insure the success of our students.#
Levy is the President of the Council of Supervisors and Administrators
which represents the principals, assistant principals, supervisors,
and administrators in NYC public schools and day care directors.
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
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