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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

For education reform, turning our attention to principals

Of all the factors common to successful schools, it is puzzling that so little weight is given to leadership. In the film Waiting for Superman, excellent teaching is rightly given credit as a major factor in student achievement, but there is no discussion of the exceptional principals leading the schools shown.

In the most effective schools I've visited or heard about, principals are academic leaders who support teachers, demand high standards of achievement, maintain discipline and engage parents. The success of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) schools, such as those shown in the film, rests in large part on a program that develops teachers into principals who then become trusted leaders. Like KIPP, schools in Finland that have produced students with the best test scores in the world are led by principals who have first proved themselves as effective teachers.

In contrast, the principals of failing schools are likely to be administrators, not academic leaders. They neither support teachers nor gain their trust. In their response to leadership, teachers are not so different from other professionals--they're best led by someone who has walked in their shoes. The most effective health-care organizations, such as Mayo Clinic and Kaiser-Permanente, are led by physicians. Lawyers lead law practices. The list goes on. No one suggests bringing in former business managers or army officers to lead these professionals, and it's no better an idea to put them in charge of schools.

In the debate on improving schools, most attention goes to teachers, even though studies show that teaching explains only 10 to 20 percent of student achievement. Although there is no evidence to support it, policymakers believe teachers will perform better if motivated by money. Increasing salaries for teachers may attract more qualified candidates, but it will not motivate teachers to teach better. Dedicated professionals are motivated to perform meaningful work when it is supported, recognized and appreciated.

Instead of throwing money at a discredited, and insulting, theory, let's study the factors common to the best schools and figure out how to replicate them in different contexts. If we do this, it will become clear that developing teachers with leadership ability to become principals will be an essential part of an effective policy.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 21, 2010; 4:39 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Education leadership , Organizational Culture , Teaching Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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JFV123 claims:

"Lawyers decided to turn over operations controls to non-lawyers. Why? Because lawyers are owners and wanted their businesses run efficienty [sic]."

Education is NOT a business, unless you're talking about private schools run for profit.

"Second, lawyers and doctors aren't unionized. Unions don't care about customers or users."

Right--lawyers and doctors aren't unionized. They aren't ever held in limbo by their customers, patients, or clients. They don't need to fight each year to protect salaries that are frequently below living-wage level. They have access to the best investments, retirement accounts, benefits, and insurance...and why? Because they work for PROFIT. If times are tough, they can drum up more business by scaring patients into getting tests and procedures they don't need, or requiring them to come in for the renewal of a simple prescription. If they're lawyers, it's even easier--they can tell their clients just about anything and charge them more for it...because if they couldn't sell B.S. well enough, they wouldn't be lawyers in the first place.

"Teachers really aren't a profession like doctors and lawyers."

Teaching is both a profession and a calling.

"Teachers are unionized employees who took the easiest courses in college and have made no investment in their schools."

While most of us don't sign up for Neuroscience 101, the talent it takes to actually teach--NOT LECTURE--is something you can't buy. When it comes to the larger part of teacher training and education, most of the general public has no idea just what a complex field we navigate every single day, how much unpaid overtime we must put in to stay on top of the latest research, and how many times we have to shift direction because someone outside the field decides we need to follow the latest pedagogical fashion.

"Teachers are not accountable for their work product."

Yes we are. The parents, our fellow teachers, our students, and we ourselves hold teachers up to standards that no one in this nation can agree on how to measure. The debates rage on, and all the while we must teach in the crossfire of all this garbage.

"You can't sue a teacher for malpractice."

Yes you can. There are bad teachers out there who are protected by unions on principle, but the vast majority of us are doing good--if not excellent--work, though that's not front-page news. Perfectly good teachers can be fired on nothing but hearsay--like my old PE teacher. He was phenomenal, but lost his job because of a classmate of mine. She accused him of molestation...a few years later, she admitted to having made the whole thing up.

"It's dangerous to insist that people with so little investment in their profession should run large institutions that control large budgets."

Politicians dictate the budgets; we can only influence how much of our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits we give.

Sounds like you'd prefer Donald Trump.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | January 4, 2011 6:01 PM
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This article is really behind the times in insisting you have to be a teacher to lead a school system.

The analogy to lawyers and other professionals running their businesses is particularly misleading.

First, most large law firms (100+ lawyers)have non-lawyer business managers, who actually "run" the law firm. Lawyers hire and fire the business manager, like Boards of Directors school boards. Lawyers haven't really "run" most large law firms in decades. Who made that decision? Lawyers decided to turn over operations controls to non-lawyers. Why? Because lawyers are owners and wanted their businesses run efficienty.

Second, lawyers and doctors aren't unionized. Unions don't care about customers or users. Unions care about having their members make more money by doing less work. Never give unions control over anything.

Third, law firms are owned by lawyers. Lawyers invest their own capital in their firms. When teachers start investing and acting like owners, they might deserve more responsibility. One of the biggest threats to healthcare is that doctors increasingly don't own their practices. Doctors are increasingly becoming employees, not owners.

Teachers really aren't a profession like doctors and lawyers. Teachers are unionized employees who took the easiest courses in college and have made no investment in their schools. Teachers are not accountable for their work product. You can't sue a teacher for malpractice.

Until teachers change, it's silly to call teachers "professionals." It's dangerous to insist that people with so little investment in their profession should run large institutions that control large budgets.

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Posted by: zhengee995 | January 2, 2011 10:39 PM
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This article is right on target. Given all the discussions and opinions, it certainly has opened a new page for the education debate.

Allow me, as a parent to weigh in on a very recent development.
My children's public elementary school is still recognized statewide for its excellence. Many parents - us included - moved to that specific district to benefit from the school's reputation for excellence in teaching.
Yet, for the past couple of years, we have seen a "steady decrease" in achievement and parents pulling the students out of the public school system.
The reason: a new team principal and assistant principal.
The teachers are mostly the same, begging parents to please take action with the county about the incompetence of their leadership, most vividly noticeable by constant reshuffling of teachers to students, interruptions during classes - calling the teachers out for whatever excuse, etc...

The bottom line: it is about leadership. In and outside the classroom.

Wishing all better years ahead. In the mean time, our children are heading to private schools.

Posted by: jrn1 | January 2, 2011 3:35 PM
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EM71 actually said:

"Professors are by no means rich or paid well.......often making less than public high school teachers.......They are subject to being assessed by their universities, judged by their effectiveness in communicating information to their students......There are no unions, there are no huge salaries and gold plated benefits - just experts committed to education."

You HAVE to be joking! According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, in 2009, the median salary for a post-secondary math teacher was $63,640, for a computer programming teacher, the median was $68,580. The median for a post-secondary business teacher was $73,320, and for a physics teacher, it was $75,060. Let me emphasize that's the MEDIAN salary. Over the years, those numbers often exceed 6-digit salaries.

For a preschool teacher, the median was $23,870, vocational teachers made $47,870, special education teachers' median salaries were $50,020, and your general high school teacher made a whopping $52,200. Their salaries are limited when they reach the final step increase, no matter how good they are.

I can hear some people retorting "but teachers who work with younger students usually don't have PhDs", and that's true, but even teachers in lower grades with master's degrees still earn less for more work, a regular stream of criticism from all angles and while navigating the latest instructional trend. We're expected to do it all and still find time to teach to the latest standardized test. We don't just dispense information; we work for the benefit of the whole child, knowing that the youngest children need the highest quality the most. Even so, the best high school teachers are rewarded with requests for college recommendation letters, and at the elementary level, it's Christmas tree ornaments and coffee cups.

We are far more dedicated to education--that of all students--than professors who give lectures for about 12-16 hours a week and get to choose their own office hours, which make up about 3-6 hours a week. College educators spend more time researching issues of their own interest, may increasingly teach classes online, and as their skills and qualifications progress over the years, receive higher ranks/titles and more respect from our society.

Yes, the unions do often protect teachers who should be fired, but there are far more good teachers out there who are not getting what they DO deserve. Many of us go into teaching because of a genuine devotion to our profession, and we know that it won't be glamorous. Even though some aspects of a university model would help, expecting that to happen is silly.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | January 2, 2011 12:42 PM
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I agree with em71 re our graduate schools being the best in the world, but I am not sure where he or she gets the idea of how they are run. In truth, tenue existed at this level long before it did for school teachers. Indeed, it is this very notion of tenure that allows them to be free and creative. While the AAUP may not call itself a union, it has, in fact, played that role.

But what happens in the university that SHOULD be copied in the high schools is exactly what was said about hiring people because of their expertise in physics, history, math, or whatever and letting them be themselves to convey to children the love they have for the discipline rather than tie them down to teaching rote material for a test. Many people talk about the superior results of private schools. Frequently they mention their ability to expell problem children. Well, the public schools could introduce this (and the private schools would be wise to increase it). Many children just need that shock to show them there really are limits. In my years, I have seen a number of kids really straighten out after such a move. Indeed, it is not so much of a punishment as a chance to start anew.

The other point is that in most states, certification is not required in public schools. For example, I know of a school in NJ that has emmy winners in their arts program. I have had many great teachers among my college professors who would not be allowed to teach in public school because they lack certification. That is a loss to the students. Similarly, one can be certified and get continuing education courses by taking an inordinate amount of education credits without keeping up in one's field. Keeping up with one's field is another area where high school teachers could benefit from the model of professors. That would make any teaching more relevant to students.

With regard to Sue_Moffitt's comment, I agree with all of that but it is not just the parents who we should blame. When I was a boy, my family was poor, but I not only had a library card, but frequent trips to the zoo and museums. I am not totally sure today's parents care less, but society does. You see all of those things (and others) used to be FREE. But as a society we have become cheap and vote in anyone who promises to cut taxes no matter what services they cut. So now many poor families can not afford these excursions. But I agree, so far the libraries are still free and, although I am no longer poor, I continue to make great use of them. I hope parents of young children will also.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | January 2, 2011 10:47 AM
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I have been involved with education as both a parent and a school staff member. I do not understand why the most obvious solution is never mentioned. It is parent involvement. When parents entertain their children with toys and video games....they do not learn to read. I have lived with very limited means to rear my children. The library is FREE. They have programs all school year long and during the summer to keep you entertained as well as your children. ALL of my children learned to ready BEFORE kindergarten. We had set homework time after school. They would not want to go to bed without being read to. When they were 3 and 4 they started reading with me and then to me. Board games are another way to teach math, reading and reasoning. It is way cheaper and much better in the long run to educate your children. The schools have them for less than 190 days and less than 7 hours a day. Make sure they get to school on time. Make sure they are prepared. It is up to the parent to make sure your child is educated. Get involved!

Posted by: sue_moffitt | January 2, 2011 9:02 AM
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The educational performance tends to be even more committed when the teachers' unions and political parties become the decisive force in the choice of directors, as we frequently observe in countries like Brazil

Posted by: jcaleluia | January 2, 2011 8:13 AM
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After many years of teaching, and looking at policy and opinions at the same time - I have to say that one of the biggest difficulties that exists in assessing the pluses and minuses in our educational system is that everyone feels that having learned something in a school, or outside of a school makes them an expert in how that educating should be done, particularly in the public educational system. It mocks what we do as teachers.

Thank you for the article about principals. I've seen this idea before. I can say that principals have had a huge effect on my work experience.

Posted by: blahdiblah | January 1, 2011 8:33 PM
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"Supermen" are pretty rare, and they generally have better things to do than become teachers and principals. They are busy being Fortune 500 CEOs, NFL head coaches, national level politicians and the like. Attracting supermen as a way to improve schools is an absurd notion.

Posted by: CharlesMcKay1 | January 1, 2011 8:26 PM
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the condemnation? caring.

look the other way? go through the processes and rubber stamp it?

caring, rocks the boat, destroys careers?
The Hurt Locker? not enough time? why?

a principal should never ask from a teacher, something they are not prepared to do themselves. And, in most cases this is correct however, what about the teacher with a talent, something the principal doesn't have? should the principal let the teacher run with it or sustain the request?


apologies all, this isn't my normal field of expertise... i'm hoping the sentence, isn't too severe for crossing the, subjects.
happy new year to all

Posted by: backspace1 | January 1, 2011 1:24 PM
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There is a vast literature over the last forty years detailing the critical role played by the school principal. Every few years yet another op-ed or blog comes out with the "news" that the principal is important. The larger question is why we have to keep discovering the obvious.

Posted by: lstrauss2 | January 1, 2011 11:57 AM
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While our secondary education is in shambles, we have a very admirable university program that is respected around the world. Professors are by no means rich or paid well, nor do they have an obnoxious union protecting their worst. They are hired because they are experts in their field, PhDs with well respected publications, often making less than public high school teachers. They are subject to being assessed by their universities, judged by their effectiveness in communicating information to their students. If they are not good, they do not stay. It's subjective but admittedly, it works.

There are no unions, there are no huge salaries and gold plated benefits - just experts committed to education. Why is this so hard to replicate amongst our elementary, middle, and high schools? Why are we using a different model?

Posted by: em71 | January 1, 2011 11:22 AM
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People are throwing ideas around without facing some of the real problems. For example, it is easy to criticize unions and bad teachers. But who gets to define "bad" teachers. If a teacher has high standards, tests for understanding with test material that cannot be memorized, who demands students apply what he or she has taught to new situations forcing them to think instead of memorize, I say that is the teacher I would want teaching my kids. BUT, in fact, such a teacher would bring complaints from students and then parents (often syncronized so as to have the maximum effect on the administrators who fall for such tactics)and would be seen as a "bad" teacher because he or she is rocking the boat. I have seen such teachers fired in schools without unions while those who are barely competent but give high grades and "study sheets" that almost give away the questions on the exam are praised for how well their students do and how happy they are.

Don't kid yourselves, it is not what I would call "poor teachers" who many people want to purge out of the schools, it is rather those who challenge the status quo.

I totally agree with those who condemn the business model for running a school. It is NOT a business! I no more want the school to be run like a business than I would want my church or government to be so run. In fact, I think running businesses like "a business" has caused the recent economic downfall. For instance, the business criteria now include only the bottom line for the last quarter -- the schools only the standardized testing for the last term. Neither looks at long range outcomes to the peril of both.

No, the unions are not the problem, but may well help the solution by preventing the dismissal of the many outstanding teachers who would be rated "bad" by those too frightened to dare go against the status quo.

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | January 1, 2011 8:52 AM
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As soon as an article on education uses the term "failing schools" I quit reading.

Posted by: rjma1 | January 1, 2011 8:33 AM
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Part of the problem is teachers and principals are not wanting to change the educational model. It is old and boring with lectures and sitting listening. Kids today are not very good at paying attention for long and only those with supervision and guidance jump through the hoops. Lectures are not gone and higher education Professors love them. It is hard to give up the broken model and it is also hard to get some students to do anything without a babysitter.

Posted by: confussed | January 1, 2011 8:29 AM
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I think the future of education will be digital. And, there'll be tenured education bureaucrats literally scrambling to keep their jobs worldwide. Why? Well, laptop computers, of course, computers that can network to computer servers that store information and can serve it out on demand, enabling students to do reference work and complete their assignments electronically, at their own pace, meaning your average student, either fast OR slow, will get the maximum benefit of butt-in-chair time, because they'll no longer be lock-stepped to some curriculum drawn up in a boardroom someplace where the people sitting in THOSE chairs just didn't 'get the memo'. It's the Information Age, and the door's open for kids to complete 12 years' worth of academic requirements in 1/2-3/4 the time, and move on to bigger and better things.

There was someone yapping about parents putting their kids in front of the TV. Well, for my generation, that was the highest-tech appliance in the house. No longer. Today's wireless-enabled home also represents a direct existential threat to the conventional brick-and-mortar education model in its' entirety. Imagine home schooling, pushed to a brand-new level, where the only limitation is the students' ability, and attention span. The future is now, no waiting. Concievably, they could turn school buildings into museums, showing how they USED to to business. And, for those things that you just can't do on a computer, there'll still be limited calls for classroom space, but VERY limited.

What the mind can concieve, it can achieve. Once upon a time, computers took up a warehouse, then half a warehouse, then several rooms, then half a room, then one corner of the room, and now you can fit INCREDIBLE computing power under your desk at home, or just up on the bookshelf. Encyclopedias' worth, entire libraries' worth of stored information, literally at your fingertips. How fast can you read? How fast can you learn? How bad do you want to graduate? Can you use a basic 104/110-key keyboard? A mouse? A touch screen?

I think the 21st century is going to 'let the smoke out' of conventional education models and expectations. And, if you point the kids in the right direction at the early age, they'll show us how to do the whole thing better, faster, and more effectively. Nevermind what 6-figure bureaucrats trying to defend their careers have to say about it, let's talk straight to the kids and listen to them, and find out what they've got to say about it.

Posted by: walkerbert | December 31, 2010 8:35 PM
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Okay who in the educational field isn't worried about he appointment of Cathie Black as Chancellor of NY schools? This is exactly part of the problem- she has NO educational backgound or qualifications whatsoever. WHAT is Bloomberg thinking (or what is his game plan)?

Posted by: mypoint1 | December 31, 2010 8:27 PM
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I'm heartened by someone writing a column that doesn't bash teachers. Most educators already know that a combination of factors go into making for the success of a student. There is no magic formula on the horizon,so those or use who give it our best everyday, don't wait for Superman. Yes we need good administrators, teachers have b een saying that for years.

Posted by: mypoint1 | December 31, 2010 8:22 PM
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I concure with this article, but see a need to add the following for food for thought. The requirement for acceptance into an educational leadership program is simply to have a bachelors degree in education. No where is there a stipulation which states that you must be a successful or effective teacher. You can be a rookie teacher or a totally inept teacher and be accepted into an educational leadership program.

Frankly, as a 27 year educator, I believe that you shouldn't be allowed to enter a program without having demonstrated exceptional teaching abilities, leadership skills and an above average ability to develop and maintain relationships. Positions as important as educational leaders should depend more than on a degree or license but more on a person's demonstrated love of students and ensuring their learning. Both teachers and students follow those who lead by example, believe in them as learners, set high standards, acknowledge achivements (no matter how small) and respect them as people. Find leaders who are willing from the heart to do these things and everything will fall in place.

Posted by: km_mack | December 31, 2010 8:18 PM
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I'm heartened by someone writing a column that doesn't bash teachers. Most educators already know that a combination of factors go into making for the success of a student. There is no magic formula on the horizon,so those or use who give it our best everyday, don't wait for Superman. Yes we need good administrators, teachers have b een saying that for years.

Posted by: mypoint1 | December 31, 2010 8:07 PM
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Having good leadership makes a huge difference in the teaching experience. I would say, though, that in Arizona (where I live), where teacher salaries rank among the lowest in the nation, the state is struggling to keep good teachers because they cannot provide a living wage to them. There needs to be some recognition from the public as well as from school leadership that what teachers do in the classroom is valuable.

Posted by: fenickfeet | December 31, 2010 2:03 PM
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Here is some data from the recently released PISA scores:
Average score, reading literacy, PISA, 2009:
[United States, Asian students 541]
Korea 539
Finland 536
[United States, white students 525]
Canada 524
New Zealand 521
Japan 520
Australia 515
Netherlands 508
Belgium 506
Norway 503
Estonia 501
Switzerland 501
Poland 500
Iceland 500
United States (overall) 500

Posted by: edlharris | December 31, 2010 10:10 AM
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Until parents start parenting, schools will fail regardless of their leadership. Our education problems arise from children who have parents that do not teach them discipline or respect, do not read to them at all, and put them in front of a TV all the time.

The problem is not the schools, it is our culture that does not expect parents to take any of the responsibilities a parent needs to take.

Posted by: GabrielRockman | December 31, 2010 8:48 AM
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If I remember correctly, one of the pre-requisites to becoming a school principle is experience as a teacher. Principles aren't chosen from the MBA pool.

This is a mere opinion piece with not nearly enough facts or research behind it. Yes, it's a good suggestion to look at how the successful schools differ, but that's nto exactly a revelation; more of a common sense type notion.

Posted by: hebe1 | December 30, 2010 3:35 PM
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Our solutions must be guided by facts. 50%+ of minority students are dropping out of high school. That should tell us that we are trying a fit a round peg in a square hole. The template of students going to school, then coming home for a good meal and 4 hours of solid study time is not a realistic expectation in urban America.
Yet, the school year is still designed to fit around a farm economy, with summers off and winters spent huddled in classrooms with nothing else to do but multiplication tables.
Why don't you ask students in SoCal or Florida in January if the weather helps them study. There are too many distractions, especially if their parents are on the fringes of society.
Education experts need to remember that we're not all WASPy kinder marching to skuul in our little snow boots like good soldiers.
Today's children MUST be engaged on THEIR level and encouraged to develop their strengths within the framework of mandatory reading, writing, speaking and math/science skills. They won't be force-fed a 19th century, homogenous N. European orthodoxy.
Today's children, we are told, must have a college degree to even think about the American Dream. It seems now that, despite all the opportunities in America, we have designed a make-or-break system that punishes anyone who falls behind or stops to smell the roses.
As such, for America's educators, it's Put-Up or Shut-Up Time.
Disenfranchise failing schools and end the Government Big-School Monopoly NOW!

Posted by: BigSea | December 30, 2010 1:50 PM
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Our school's KIPP-trained principal, who brings nearly every trick from the KIPP/TFA playbook, is a disaster.

A leader who knows about how children, and adults, learn would have been a MUCH better idea.

Is this opinion piece just another Waiting for Superman advert?

Posted by: dcparent | December 30, 2010 1:50 PM
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so, find 100 long tennured principals of great schools from all parts of the country and interview them to find out what distinguishes them from the 'also rans'?

then you'd actually have a story worth writing.

Posted by: boblesch | December 30, 2010 10:18 AM
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"I said it first!" "I said it first!"
I've spent the last year or so in my small circle of colleagues and non-educator friends trumpeting the importance of quality leadership, and it seems the word's getting out. As an ex-soldier-now-teacher I use the Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) analogy: If a USAF fighter Wing fails an ORI you fire the Wing Commander, not the pilots and mechanics. A failing school needs new leadership just the same. What complicates school reform is the dysfunctional train of leadership: principal, superintendent, school board, elected officials. Teachers are upset rightfully over the criticisms aimed at them recently because we know we do not have the autonomy and responsibility to do what needs to be done for our students as so many current reforms are initiated from the top down without input/consensus from the ground up, which is a recipe for failure for most enterprises.
In education finding a great principal is a start, but you need a quality superintendent, school board, and local elected officials who are great leaders; rarely does that combination exist, and where it doesn't, e.g. Los Angeles, the consequences are catastrophic for our children.

Posted by: pdexiii | December 30, 2010 9:54 AM
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In an opinion piece I read once, the author suggested that since teachers work the closest with actual students, and bear the burden of real achievement for the school district, they should be the highest paid employee's in the system. I have a smile on my face as I write this because if this were possible and actually implemented, the Principal's and the teacher's role would reverse...then we'd see who the real experts and leaders were...and realistic reform would probably occur.

Those with the biggest paycheck's have the most power...unlike partner's in law firms, or physician's who see still patients, school administrator's no longer interact with those sitting in the classroom...that's the problem. It's hard to manage or lead something you no longer understand.

Using a sport's metaphor: Has Coach K at Duke become the 2nd highest winning coach because he allows his assistants to run all practices and just sits in office thinking up new plays or ordering new binder's for the playbooks or determining the temperature in the gym or eating lunch with the President of the University or worrying about big-time donner's think? But that's the way school division's are run.

Posted by: ilcn | December 30, 2010 9:51 AM
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Retabroad states that two populations in our schools do not value education and do not want to speak English? As Bill Cosby says: Some folk need to get out more! Retabroad needs to educate himself! When we know better, we do better!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 30, 2010 8:42 AM
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Retabroad states that two populations in our schools do not value education and do not want to speak English? As Bill Cosby says: Some folk need to get out more! Retabroad needs to educate himself! When we know better, we do better!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 30, 2010 8:34 AM
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You can have great leadership at the top-but if the system denies that leadership the necessary tools to fix the problems change cannot be made- The single most important impediment to change is the stranglehold of the teacher's unions on allowing for a workable system for the removal of incompetent teachers-

Notwhitstanding my strong views above, teachers are as a group trapped by their environment- especially when trying to perform their magic in communities were parents-for a host of reasons- are not
raising their children well enough to allow for the educational system to do its job- that does create an unfair an almost imposible base line flaw-and I give "goodteachers" great respect for their efforts- I still think the stranglehold of the Unions on rewarding incompetents is the weakest link,,,

Posted by: 27anon72 | December 30, 2010 6:57 AM
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As long as half the students in public schools are Hispanic and black, two populations that do not value education and/or won't speak the English language, public schools will be unable to perform.

Posted by: retabroad | December 29, 2010 11:04 PM
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Perhaps not fair to the author, who focuses on leadership within the educational establishment, but is there not a significant role for all the parents in the family establishment?

Parental expectations, encouragement, participation in he child's education, establishing a role model, all seem relevant. It might even help if there is more than one parent in the child's residence. Just a thought.

Posted by: ahengst | December 29, 2010 10:50 PM
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Until you remove the federal govt and the never ending regulations plus the unions we will continue to have a dysfunctional education system. Time to remove both and give our kids a chance to learn.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | December 29, 2010 8:56 PM
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Well, it helps to have caretakers of children who are curious and who read to the children. It helps to have curious children and curious teachers...yes, curious principals help. It helps to have principals who know and care about reading and math. It helps to have the Union to step in when principals are treating teachers unfairly.I helps to have teachers who question authority. It helps to have teachers and administrators follow the civil rights laws regarding special education. Also, it helps to have caretakers/parents who ask questions and who insist on good teaching. It helps to know that Mother Nature is Number One...not the USA. (we must try harder)

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 29, 2010 8:20 PM
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There are plenty of thoughtful comments here, but there are perhaps a few other points to be considered.

I teach at the college level. A colleague has observed that we need to tell new faculty to love their classrooms because they will be in those classrooms until the walls close around them and crush them. If a teacher wants change, there's nowhere to go except into administration. Some teachers, by virtue of their experience think that they might be of more service if they had more of a role in leadership. Again, that means going into administration.

The people seeking outlets or wider influence are often in the middle or late stages of their careers, and they've excelled in the classroom. Unfortunately the bar is set low for principals. They need only a few years of teaching, and there's no requirement that they have taught core subjects. There's a huge difference between teaching, say, English or math and teaching phys ed. But the subject taught isn't considered.

Finally, there's the emphasis on academic leadership programs and degrees. These are much like MBA programs. They produce graduates who simply don't understand accomplishing the mission of the school. They easily fall under the impression that they work for parents and superintendents when they really need to work for the students.

Posted by: amstphd | December 29, 2010 7:26 PM
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I am a retired Army officer who entered teaching and am now retired from teaching. I note that Wake County Schools here in my state of NC just hired BG Tony Tata from DC Public Schools to be their new Supe. What is up with that? A reason that excellent teachers opt for administration when they would rather teach, and their performance as administrators is less than outstanding, is simply money. Teaching is a flat profession with no progression within teaching except step increases. In order to earn a higher salary teachers become administrators. Many school systems are having trouble attracting principals even with six figure salaries. Culprits are everywhere from the federal government to state governments, to unions, to unmotivated students. Plenty of blame to go around and no one silver bullet (despite the author's contention) willget the US education system back where if used to be.

Posted by: melj1 | December 29, 2010 6:04 PM
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first it was the teachers now we need to focus on the principals? how about the students and our instant gratification society that we live in. we teach them that all they have to do is want something (think any reality show where you don't need to study or anything to be a star as an example) and you can somehow have it without hard work. and the second you mention hard work then that is un-American because knowledge and learning is for Asians!

we've all been complacent way too long. it's time to man up.

Posted by: anonymous3 | December 29, 2010 5:48 PM
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The "effective schools movement" of the seventies and eighties studied good schools in an attempt to discover what made them work. Their findings were not exactly popular in the fairytale world of child centered education where denial and dismissal of empirical evidence comes easily and often. There is no need to re-invent the wheel. Effective Schools clearly and concisely demonstrated what made students successful.

Posted by: vinceporter | December 29, 2010 4:50 PM
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Personally, I think the most important factor in education is to have qualified teachers for students. Without that vital factor, it would have been much harder to improve education at any level.

A school can have the best administrator or academic leader. If the teacher does not know the subject, it's no help. Students are better off learning the subject on their own. Most kids were born smart. How long does it take to kill their curiosity? Around 5th grade. It makes you wonder why.

Math and reading are two most important skills in education and adulthood. The US were ranked 32nd in math and 17th for reading in the world, while we spent the most per pupil in the world. What we have practiced is not working. It's time to hire only math teachers with a college degree in math. If a teacher doesn't know how fun math can be, he or she should not teach the subject. Memorizing math formulas without understanding nor appreciation kills kids' interest in math, period.


Top Test Scores From Shanghai Stun Educators
Published: December 7, 2010

Posted by: dummy4peace | December 29, 2010 3:15 PM
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I have beena resident of DC for well over 5 years-no children in the school system-but I have beentroubled by the fact that the DC schools have ranked very close to the bottom of the entire USA heap (before the recent efforts) Havinga discussion on the value of good leadership-great Principals can certainly makean important difference- but in my opinion the DC system will never be corrected until the Teachers Union Decides that it cares MORE ABOPUT THE CHILDREN than about protecting their jobs even protrecting the jobs of seriously incompetent teachers who care first and foremost about protecting their jobs and will never be of any value... all the other discussions are and 3will remain an after thought mired in the mud and disgrace of poor teachers protecting their turf$$$$

Posted by: 27anon72 | December 29, 2010 2:21 PM
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I am a former education leader at a few levels who was reasonably successful (meaning I could get another job if I wanted it, but choose to teach). After all these years, I think education leadership is overrated. Most models imply that teachers work for their leaders, which means maintaining the organization is more important than disrupting it to achieve better learning opportunities for more students. Rather than working for their leaders, all educators work for their students. Maintaining the organization at the expense of our students' growth and development, eviscerates the primary purpose of schools, educating well the next generation.

Certainly, there are education leaders who are very effective and there are also those who should be nowhere near a school. At best, those in the latter group are administrators or managers, but not leaders. We ought to be seeking a future of schools where each school, rather than having a principal who passes down the latest expectations from central administration, actually shares the planning and direction of the school with the teachers, parents, local businesses, and the like. It is longer, slower work, but likely more rewarding in the end.

As we're learning from the best charter schools, commitment to the goals of the school, what some are now calling "buy in," matters much more than obeying rules that are too infrequently made clear to those "underlings." In contrast, there are countless teachers with terrific ideas that could improve the quality of their school as well as the quality of the educational experiences the school offers. It is just that we cannot shake our American belief in top-down management where the top has all the answers and the authority to make the others follow. As a nation of many broken systems now, perhaps it is time to divest ourselves from this historic practice, and do what business has learned: those closest to the problem should be closest to the solution. In schools, teachers are closest to the problem of student achievement, but the solutions come from central office administrators who buy consultants by the dozens without much forethought as to whether anyone will "buy in." One job of the leader is to get people on the same page. Most don't even get to own the ideas they are being told to implement. We simply need new models of school leadership.

Posted by: haymarket05 | December 29, 2010 9:56 AM
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"The irony is that it [voiding teachers' contracts] will improve education in all cities due to the pensions being done away with."

Spare me!! No one goes into teaching to get rich. While the unions sometimes go overboard, they are often a teacher's best and only hope for defense against frivolous lawsuits and a shot at a living wage, which many teachers still don't get.

"What a truly good administrator would do is get out of the way of the good teachers.........and if you want to rate teachers, don't visit their class."

Are you KIDDING me? How are they going to know who the better teachers are if they never visit the classes under their own roofs? I teach special education, and while I appreciate my administrators deferring to my specialized expertise, they still need to pop in now and then to see me with their own eyes.

As for the business skills versus teaching experience, we need a little of both. Not every teacher is suited to oversee an entire school, but no desk jockey could possibly meet the needs of teachers, parents, and students combined.

Posted by: EdgewoodVA | December 29, 2010 9:46 AM
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All of this is just noise. The unions have painted themselves into unsustainable corners, and now they'll for it by cities voiding their union contracts (in bankruptcy). The irony is that it will improve education in all cities due to the pensions being done away with. Sound harsh? Is it harsh when someone takes a risk like rock climbing without a rope falls? Of course not. The point of "reform" is to better educate our children. Don't forget that when you slavishly support unions.

Posted by: shred11 | December 28, 2010 1:16 AM
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As a teacher who works for an idiot principal, here here. She is ineffective,only works with parents she likes and doesn't care about the progress of all her students. She calls last minute meetings and takes ideas from everywhere without thinking them through or even giving them enough time to work. She wastes teachers' time on a regular basis. I cannot understand how she maintains a job as she is simply pulling a paycheck and has a reputation among MANY other people in the county as being an imbecile. The teacher turn over in the building shows she is incompetant as no one stays longer than 3 years. Yet she still has a job, wonder who she is sleeping with?

Posted by: jkinderteacher | December 27, 2010 8:30 PM
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The concept of education as a race to the top is a particularly stupid idea. Maybe that is why ideologues of both political parties are attracted to it. But the deep entanglement of education with the emotions of parent's aspirations for their children makes it a particularly difficult subject to talk about rationally. I don't think there is much doubt about the reason that the Bronx High School of Science has a history of success in producing high achieving students. I can't remember any principal from my twelve years of education in Chicago's public schools. I can remember a few teachers who were particularly good and at least one who was particularly bad. But, I don't know of a single case where a student's fate was changed by something that was taught to them in grade school or high school. My judgment of my education is that it was better than what was on offer at the fancy private school where the President sent his children. That was mainly because of my peers whose parents made the same judgment and chose to send their children to a public school even though they could have afforded the University of Chicago's private school at the reduced rate charged for faculty children. There is a large amount of uncertainty about what a particularly successful education system might contribute. But there are some important concepts that should shape efforts to improve education. One is the reality that social skill and intensity of ambition are far more important factors than academic sills in a student's eventual success. A second is the reality that the main way a teacher can help particular students is by being sensitive to their particular needs and giving them individual help in bringing out their best. The people most successful at this kind of effort are usually not those most motivated by competition for financial rewards. The third is that by far the technique with the most promise for teaching skills, for getting a better understanding of what students are able to learn, and probably even for developing social skills is automation. The race to the top is an exercise in failure from an education establishment that does not seem to be making much effort to develop and exploit the technology that is both cost effective and the only approach with any realistic chance of making a big difference.

Posted by: dnjake | December 27, 2010 5:16 PM
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There are alot of thoughtful comments posted. I like the one about teachers evaluating principals and superintendents.
I'm not sure teachers are being listened to enough.Not that they have all the answers, or aren't sometimes part of the problem, but they offer a great deal of insight into the problems in teaching today.
Also, I liked the comment about how knowledge and learning needs have changed in the modern world without suitable changes to how students learn.
My special plea, in this age of agricorporations and megacorporations, is to remember that small is beautiful, and diversity leads to greater adaptability for the population as a whole.But who will sponsor the small and diverse ?

Posted by: steveandjanereed1 | December 27, 2010 3:43 PM
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hey Pop!

Sent: Monday, December 27, 2010 10:56 AM
To: 'allstaff

One of the three flagpoles attached to the front of the building has broken loose in the wind. It is currently swinging widely into the south side of the building and has cracked through the first pane of glass on the third floor. Building services has been alerted, but this is obviously an extremely dangerous situation. The staff on the south side of the building on the 3rd and 4th floors have been moved to safer areas. The front entrance to the building has been closed because of broken glass. I'll keep you posted on further developments. In the meantime, enter through the garage and please use extreme caution moving in and out of the building.

as always the church doesn't ask for a donation , however if you feel moved to give, by all means...

Posted by: EarthCraft | December 27, 2010 2:59 PM
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Absolutely correct but KIPP can kick kids out, schools cannot.

Leadership is not being taught to the principals or APs. In fact, Loudoun County has been promoting a few APs to principal jobs when they have only a few years experience. As a parent, this would make me pause.

Promotions like these do not give confidence to the teachers that this person is experienced, knowledgeable, or supportive. One recently promoted AP never taught an actual class or grade that was tied to NCLB. (Think of all the extra classes kids take----art, computer, languages, music, etc.). Those teachers' performances are not tied to NCLB.

How can the teachers at this person's school respect her? Not going to happen.

Posted by: ariesgirl4 | December 27, 2010 12:54 PM
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This is one of the key factors that impacts education reform. Leadership is most definitely the key, and incompetent, ineffective mediocre principals present the greatest obstacle to student success.
Bad teachers find it impossible to function when there is a competent, effective principal managing the school; and good teachers thrive under the type of leadership that generates ideas, inspires initiative, and respects the professionalism of others.

Posted by: qa1964 | December 27, 2010 7:32 AM
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I agree with most of the ideas in this article. In my experience, the home environment is the single-most important factor in determining student success. Administrators are important, particularly when they are exceptional (either in a good way or in a bad way). Of the factors within the control of local school districts, teacher quality is the most important factor in determining student success. School administrators should hire the best administrators available and create the kind of school atmosphere that attracts the best teaching talent available. I have found that advanced degrees are of less importance than are degrees in the actual field being taught by an enthusiastic teaching professional.

Posted by: Thunderfan | December 26, 2010 6:03 PM
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Nice article. Send it over the Jay so he can gain a new perspective. I'd say send it to the Sec of Ed, but he's constructing new ways to blame teachers.

Posted by: peonteacher | December 26, 2010 10:55 AM
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The most trusted people are left out in Children's education- how about involving parents. A kids education starts at a HAPPY HOME, simple learning skills have to come from parents and grand parents.Affable quizzing at times,just adding just few grapes as a simple example for math or english, a little bit of science, at the breakfast or dinner table.It is not obtrusive,non-combative, a great tool, much forgotten- no need for books-it works like Hook-line-sinker, this is just for a starter.Teachers and Principals come later.Is this expensive, NO,it is available, any time, any place and any where.Parents and Students have fingers, sound is every where.

The most important is parents and students meet each other every day,Holiday or not, either one or both.Why are we not using this mode, all eastern countries use all the time-both Students and Parents become common teachers and bonded for ever.
No adversorial behemoths.

Posted by: jayrkay | December 24, 2010 10:52 PM
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I do not want teachers who aspire to be principals -- I want teachers who are so dedicated they want to be in that classroom teaching young people. Those who want to climb the ladder are careful to do all the right things and therefore perpetuate the status quo.

in fact, one of the most outstanding teachers I know is nearing retirement and has turned down requests from above that he go into administration for many years. Would he be good? Undoubtedly. But I do not want to see us remove our best teachers from interacting with kids. You do not take your star athlete and make him a manager while he can still perform at a high level on the field. Why take an outstanding teacher out of the classroom?

What a truly good administrator would do is get out of the way of the good teachers. Cut the red tape and nonsense and just let them teach.

The other big problem is parents who get the administrators to side with them against the teachers. And, if the principal backs the teacher, they will go to the superintendent and then the school board, etc. There is much wisdom in Lola May's famous quote "there's a lot to be said for teaching in an orphanage!"

And if you want to rate teachers, don't visit their class, don't ask for student evaluations, but if you have say a high school teacher, ask his or her students to rate them AFTER they finish college. How many of us only appreciated our parents years after we complained about them. Why would anyone think we would be different to teachers?

Clearly money is not the only motivation for teachers. Look at how many teachers choose to teach in a private school which pays less than a public school. Why? Better working conditions (and they could use a lot of improvement also).

Think of the best teachers you ever had. If we ever get to defining good teachers as those who are on the administrator track, we are doomed!

Posted by: TomfromNJ1 | December 24, 2010 9:36 PM
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The most important statement about what we do in education, that I have heard, came from the late teacher/astronaut, Ms. McAuley. When asked what she did, as a teacher, she responded: "I touch the future--I teach".

Education must be dedicated towards future needs, and I suggest that this is at the root of the real problem. The tools and methods of pedagogy are no longer as relevant as they used to be when the rate of change of knowledge was relatively static. However, for about fifty years or more, the rate of change of knowledge has been expanding exponentially, and the real needs of education have changed. It now requires the andragogical approach of teaching students HOW to learn, rather than WHAT to learn for the purposes of satisfactory performance on tests (standardized or not).

No single textbook can contain all the knowledge of any particular subject; nor could any single test determine exactly what percentage of knowledge of any particular subject has been, definitely, accomplished by the student.

We have to teach and examine in a manner that predicts future performance of students. If the methods and techniques of learning are developed by students, they would better be able to cope with future needs without requiring remedial work.

Posted by: CalP | December 24, 2010 9:32 PM
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This article is so on target; I worked under 10 different principals/administrators over a period of 28 years(one of my schools burned out a principal about every 3 years).
While all were reasonably competent given the many difficulties, the most seasoned, people-savvy, supportive, and academically sharp made the biggest difference.

Additionally, I worked under several principals who also taught one seminar-type class to keep their hand in, a practice which has now fallen out of favor. Those particular principals were very mindful of teaching issues.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | December 24, 2010 3:17 PM
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Principals need good principles and a grasp of grammar to be accountable. I'm a disabled veteran and same sex parent. The Christian principal at my children's public school is opposed to children attending her school if they have married same-sex parents. The Prop-8 War began with the Santa Clara Unified School District deciding policy that broke all laws. The Church infected the State, now it's bankrupt. Blame it on same-sex soldier-spouses!

Posted by: docket09 | December 24, 2010 11:25 AM
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In my area of the country, the men who become
principals are often former athletic coaches -- not academics and only interested in having their schools do well on testing so that they look good. Their mentality is "WIN!" more than learn. I retired early in frustration.

Posted by: sdl63 | December 24, 2010 9:07 AM
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In most public school systems, the principal can be effective only to the degree to which the administrators above keep out of their way.
Prince George's County PS had a number of excellent principals who left a decade ago due to the incompetence of then superintendent Iris Metts.
Two of them, Richard Meltzer(sp) of Kenilworth ES, and Kevin Maxwell of Northwestern, left for Montgomery County, then continue up the ladder to become an assistant superintendent and superintendent. The principal of Eleanor Roosevelt left to become an administrator in North Carolina.
John Ceschimi of Rockledge ES left for Montgomery County and now leads a group supporting arts integration in Maryland schools.

Prince George's County's loss.

Posted by: edlharris | December 24, 2010 1:03 AM
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Even more telling and distressing about Principal's and the education hierarchy is the fear of not towing the company line will mean a return to the classroom.

Posted by: ilcn | December 23, 2010 4:27 PM
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You are absolutely correct. But the examination has to go beyond the Principal's office. The examination has to include those in Central Administration who are making the decision's that affect what we do in our building's and classroom's. Too many of these people have been out of the classroom for so long, they are really out of touch what is happening in the classroom of the 21st C.

Adding to the problem in my school district are the so-called qualifications for "getting ahead." "Sucking up" carries the day...which is ironic at a time when we are stressing 21st C skills (?) for students at the same time they want administrator's to adhere to the "Do as I say and don't ask questions" move-up-the- ladder management model. Sucking up has never been a proven method for improving schools or increasing student achievement. I would argue that that is the root cause of our angst today.

A good teacher does not necessarily make a good administrator. And a good leader should be able to question the status quo.

Posted by: ilcn | December 22, 2010 10:10 PM
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School administrators as "leaders"is a joke. These are the least competent people working in Education. Teachers will often help select administrators from among their members, selecting the least able teacher to do such trivial work. The only real "leadership"in education is the individual teacher who knows his or her subject, and understands kids and how to help them learn. Administration is not composed of leaders, but rather people who should serve teachers by making it possible for them to teach.

Posted by: billaldridge | December 22, 2010 7:38 PM
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The teacher and student are not gaining from money, if quality of learning smart way, improvements may be expected- one should not expect with improvemnt.
Better learning in Asian countries, even with less money,is what we have to learn-money= is not learning

Posted by: jayrkay | December 22, 2010 4:05 PM
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School administrators are the least appreciated group in the nation. When the cost of education is blasted, administrators are the only open target of opportunity. Most are overworked and whipsawed between the interests of teachers, parents and their own bosses. Any attempt to instill discipline in the student body is a nightmare of legal procedural pitfalls.

Good administrators are hard to find and it is difficult to keep the job from eating them up.

Posted by: edbyronadams | December 22, 2010 11:08 AM
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"...In contrast, the principals of failing schools are likely to be administrators, not academic leaders. They neither support teachers nor gain their trust. In their response to leadership, teachers are not so different from other professionals--they're best led by someone who has walked in their shoes."

And this is precisely what the education reform movement fails to acknowledge, that successful schools are lead primarily by successful educators and not successful brand managers or successful journalists, etc. I worked in the public school system for close to 9 years and during that period it was strong principals who each had strong and successful educational backgrounds who were most effective in educating students. Their understanding of a variety of situations that affect a child's ability to learn and be taught went further than some abstract theory on motivation and consumer buying habits. We don't need managers leading our schools, we need educational leaders who promote effective learning and the broad expanse of learning that each child can experience during their lifetimes. Good article.

Posted by: Robmic812 | December 22, 2010 11:02 AM
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I taught for nearly forty years. All but one principal was the kind of administrator who allowed himself to be chained to his office. A few tried to affect curricula in various ways, but only to put something "trendy" on their resumes as they marched upwards and onwards and out of one system into another. Only one principal in all that time had any real interest in academics. So, yes, a principal (or superintendent) is important, but only if what they do really supports improved instruction. I see from other comments that my experience is not unusual. One thing that might help is if teachers could submit their evaluations of principals and superintendents. That might help a great deal.

Posted by: sailhardy | December 22, 2010 10:16 AM
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DC's most famous reform principal, Brian Betts, was tragically killed while he waited in bed for an 18 year-old black male to enter his unlocked home.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 22, 2010 9:23 AM
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Michael Maccoby is quite correct in pointing to the central importance of school principals and their need to be educational leaders/mentors in addition to their managerial role. There is quite a large existing research literature that shows how important the principal's job is: it is the most important (and most teachers will agree with this contention).

Research published this year by U. of Chicago educators based upon a very large sample of Chicago elementary schools reaches the same conclusion, but points out that the most effective schools also possessed high levels of several additional factors. I quote:

"School leadership [the principal] sits in the first position. It acts as a driver for improvements in four other organizational subsystems:parent and community ties, professional capacity of the faculty and staff, a student-centered learning climate, and an instructional guidance system. While it has been the practice of many districts and schools to concentrate reform efforts on just one or two elements within one or two of these subsystems (for example, imporoving the quiality of teachers or mandating a common instructional curriculum), the evidence presented here attests that these systems stand in strong interaction with one another. As a consequence of this interactivity, meaningful imporovement typically entails orchestrated initiatives across multiple domains." From: Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, by Anthony Bryk et al., 2010, U. of Chicago Press, Page 197.

I thank Mr. Maccoby for raising some important issues that the popular press frequently overlooks in its periodic "teacher bashing" and "union bashing." We (principals, teachers, staff, parents, students, unions, district-level management) are all going to have to work together cooperatively for the educational welfare of this country.

Posted by: lobewiper | December 22, 2010 8:16 AM
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I agree! No matter how well paid nor how well educated a teacher might be, if the teacher does not have the support and appreciation of the principal and the chair of the department...then why stay? Also, the principal has to know about good teaching practices or at least the curiosity to find out and help teachers!
Teachers who often have 150 students a day plus a homeroom...want and need support!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 22, 2010 8:04 AM
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I agree! No matter how well paid nor how well educated a teacher might be, if the teacher does not have the support and appreciation of the principal and the chair of the department...then why stay? Also, the principal has to know about good teaching practices or at least the curiosity to find out and help teachers!
Teachers who often have 150 students a day plus a homeroom...want and need support!

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | December 22, 2010 8:00 AM
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At times the cycle of teaching the way I was taught, leading the way I was lead and eventually be the principal the way I was principaled has positive and negative outcomes. Yet, when a bad principal is removed how far does one go back into the history file? One primary reason we don't embrace replicating programs is because of the cookie-cutter syndrome. What this article is stating is no more than what has been done in the past. During my school tenure, it was unheard of to hire administrators from outside of the city. The word promotion actually meant something in the school system. Now the most over used words are recently fired and newly hired. Really when is the last time you have heard that a cycle of promotions for DCPS teachers, to lead-teachers, to assistant principals, to principals, to assistant superintendents and to Superintendent? Data will reveal that 99 percent of the time the career-ladder will be derailed and an outsider will garner the position.

Posted by: PowerandPride | December 22, 2010 7:01 AM
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I have tried to lose weight dozens of times. "Hypersonic Weight Loss" really works, I even went on a cruise and came back 2 pounds lighter.

Posted by: theomiles | December 22, 2010 5:27 AM
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Starting this year your child (or children) cannot be denied coverage simply because they have a pre-existing health condition. If you don't have insurance for you and your children search "Wise Health Insurance" online they are the best.

Posted by: andrewthoone | December 22, 2010 3:21 AM
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If you currently have pre-existing conditions like me that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options under new health care. Check "Wise Health Insurance" to find how to get quality insurance for dollars.

Posted by: andrewthoone | December 22, 2010 3:20 AM
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If you currently have pre-existing conditions like me that have prevented you from being able to qualify for health insurance for at least six months you will have coverage options under new health care. Check "Wise Health Insurance" to find how to get quality insurance for dollars.

Posted by: andrewthoone | December 22, 2010 3:11 AM
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I think there is only one problem with education in public schools. Born 1929, the
whole system was based on 6 months development of the human brain. This means spurts in evolution. There were two pass/fails/repeats in the developing human brain each academic year plus the summer vacation. I was horrified when my kids (55plus now) were forced to think in terms of a year instead of 6 months at a time progress. Now I was on welfare with a single parent mom during the great depression with no jobs. So when I complained to my kids public schools about this unnatural environment, I was told (this is in the 1960's mind you) "It's too expensive to have that kind of infrastructure today"!!. So the $$$ replaces science. Still true.

Posted by: macnietspingal1 | December 22, 2010 2:54 AM
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The suggestion that our disastrous government-run education system can be reformed from within is absurd.

Posted by: thebump | December 21, 2010 11:55 PM
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YES, a thousand times yes! Good teachers will get frustrated and leave when principals do not support them, treat them badly, or waste their teaching/planning time. I really do believe that principals set the tone and create the climate at their schools. Their treatment of teachers creates the example for how teachers treat students. Their presence (or lack of it) around the building sends everyone -- students, teachers, and parents -- a strong message. I taught in a high school where the students didn't even know what the principal looked like, and in a different school where the students both recognized and greeted the principal as he walked around the building. The first school was chaos-- other teachers told me they wouldn't bother to learn my name until I stuck around three years, because they were tired of learning names only to have people leave. In the second school, the principal knew what was going on in his building, and he used his relationships with everyone to gather information and make good decisions. I can't even begin to tell you how sorry I was when I moved and had to leave that school, and I know it was all because of the community the principal had created.

Posted by: jldenny | December 21, 2010 11:31 PM
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