Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
November 2003

Where is the Promised Help for Principals?
by Jill Levy, President, CSA

Our nation’s urban public schools are a mess. Of course, not all are failing, and some are even models for the educational process. But with the nation’s collective eye focused on standardized tests and accountability, schools have been pushed to their limits with mandates far out-pacing available resources.

As states come to grips with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, the grand daddy of all unfunded mandates, the latest Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll indicates 69 percent of the respondents admitted not knowing enough about NCLB to give an opinion.

Furthermore, while testing and standards may be the buzzwords in the education field, 84 percent rejected evaluating schools on fixed standards. Instead, they preferred judging individual performance on “whether students show reasonable improvement from where they started.”

Additionally, eighty-three percent rejected the idea that a single test could adequately determine a child’s proficiency in English and math.

The poll also found that Americans want local school boards to decide what is taught in their schools. In most school systems, parents and the community-at-large do play a role, but here in New York City, our new governance laws put control firmly in the Mayor’s hands.

The “public” in public education has been virtually eliminated. In fact, we have no local school board. We have an advisory panel that, on its best days, simply rubber stamps the Mayor’s policies.

In the face of this extraordinary upheaval in the city’s school system, our individual school leaders are now providing more services than ever—and despite the denials echoing through Tweed’s halls—closing the district offices did have an impact on the administration of schools.

Call the Regional Operations Centers (ROC)—the rocks of this new system—for help and all too often, no one answers the phone or voicemail boxes are full. And when a human answers, Principals are told, “I don’t know the answer. That’s not my job.”

For this kind of service the city rushed to close the district offices? Could a political agenda have been fanning the flames of haste? Where are the promised resources to help the principals run their schools?

Having provided such reliable help in the shape of the ROCs, Tweed then proclaims that Principals now have the time to focus on instructional leadership. As Eliza Doolittle sang, “Wouldn’t it be lover-ly?” But it’s unlikely and here’s why. My Principals are getting hundreds of e-mails, some of which are more than 100 pages long. They demand immediate action, responses, and always more paperwork. A one-month stack of downloaded e-mails from one school measured nearly eight inches high.

And with all this information swirling about, contradicting edicts abound. Assistant principals were told they are no longer the instructional leaders; coaches are. But in high schools, assistant principals are doubling as coaches. Principals were told they would get special education support to replace the now defunct supervisor of special education position—but the instructional support personnel are teaching, leaving little time for compliance issues.

Principals are told to illegally overcrowd special education classes. When they ask for help with students with feeding tubes, with learning disabilities, with disabilities, they’re told they’ll have to wait. The medical records, the Individualized Education Plans, the important diagnostic materials—they’re stored in cartons waiting to be unpacked at some regional office.

But it will be the Principals held accountable for the performance of these students. And, heaven forbid, a child is injured because the wrong medical care is provided during an emergency.

Now I admit, we won’t know whether these vast changes will help NYC’s public schools meet state or federal standards for many years. But given the daily incoherence and chaos that CSA members presently struggle through, we have no time to look towards the future. Treading water in this whirlpool presents administrators with a daily victory provided they survive from one day to the next.#

Jill 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.

City: State:

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 1588, New York, NY 10159.
Tel: (212) 477-5600. Fax: (212) 477-5893. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2003.