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Chancellor Fariña: Problem Principals

May 30, 2014 pm31 12:13 pm

Things under de Blasio/Fariña will get better for the schools, students, and teachers of NYC. They might get a whole lot better. They certainly won’t get worse. But we’ve seen very little real change in the schools so far.

One of Bloomberg’s legacies is the hundreds of under-trained principals and assistant principals roaming our schools. There were several ways they came in, but the most notorious was Jack Welch’s “Leadership Academy.”

Administrators without real teaching experience often feared their knowledgeable subordinates. They felt threatened. They lashed out, and behaved badly.

Administrators who had not earned their position, but were placed there from above, had no loyalty to their schools, their colleagues, their communities. A principal oversees a school – but also should be responsible to that school. Not Bloomberg’s minions, who owed their authority only to Tweed, and acted like high commissioners, appointed from far away.

There have always been some lousy principals. There have always been some mean principals. But their numbers exploded under Bloomberg’s management system.

The too large group of principals who are incompetent, and the too large group of principals who are abusive, these two groups largely overlap.

Fariña and de Blasio have recognized there is a problem. Back in February, Fariña, in one of her few acts that drew my attention, changed the requirement for new principals, so that from now on only educators with real experience could become school leaders. Principals will need 7 years experience, and APs will need 5.

But what about the mugs who are in the schools today?  Teachers face abuse in some schools on a daily basis. Schools with incompetent leadership often have schedule changes multiple times each term… often have kids programmed for the wrong classes… often have bizarre, and non-contractual time schedules…. often find ways to fake items on kids’ transcripts to cover mistakes the school made. And the more these guys screw up, the harder they come down on their teachers.

Some of our schools have absurd turn-over rates, as teachers rush to get out, to go anywhere. Often, unfortunately, the available openings are in schools with the same sorts of principals.

And if one of these guys now has seven years experience?  If it’s seven years experience getting everything wrong, it should not count.

The question becomes, how will Fariña handle the abusive and incompetent principals? There are several hundred, and they are a blight on the system and a plague on our members.

As New Action, my caucus, advocates, we should work with Fariña to identify the problems. We should warn members to stay away from career-ruiners.

We should expect de Blasio and Fariña to move more swiftly in many areas. But this one is crucial. They are trying our good will every day these horrors and incompetents stay in place. The removals need to start.



7 Comments leave one →
  1. chaz permalink
    May 30, 2014 pm31 4:38 pm 4:38 pm


    I so agree with you. By the way what happened to the union’s principals in need of improvement? Why don’t they list them as we do about the schools were are familiar with?

  2. fportelos permalink
    May 30, 2014 pm31 7:39 pm 7:39 pm

    I was at the Staten Island town hall with Mulgrew this week. Both of them had great words about the future of our schools including the administrators. I don’t buy it though and won’t buy it until those lawyers like David Brodsky are gone.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    June 1, 2014 am30 9:31 am 9:31 am

    “It’s a beautiful day” really needs to clean house.
    If you want to check out a crazy, nasty witch – check out Iris Blige. She’s at the Roosevelt campus, Fordham HS of the Arts. The staff there are in two camps -her spies and the petrified. I was there a couple of months ago and told there’s no union rep- the last one was put in an actual closet and eventually removed. These are the people our union are allowing to deem “unprofessional behavior”? The petrified whisper all conversations and the spies won’t talk to you at all,unless it’s something nasty. The most hostile working environment I’ve been in all year (and that’s saying something).

  4. Queens Teacher permalink
    June 1, 2014 am30 11:56 am 11:56 am

    As long as the DOE has HUNDREDS of attorneys and accountability “experts” and not educators at Tweed, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    June 7, 2014 pm30 8:09 pm 8:09 pm

    Ann Marie Henry Stephens is another principal who should be investigated. She is the principal of the Brooklyn Institute of Liberal Arts. It was a “new” school started in the fall of 2012 and she was a first year principal. Nothing in her bio shows that she is qualified to be a principal. She runs her school with an iron fist. This approach applies to her teachers as well as the students. I have been an educator for 38 years (recently retired) and I know that one of a principal’s primary tasks should be to MENTOR his/her new teachers. ALL of (her) teachers were new to the field and, to my knowledge, only 2 out of 7 returned for the second year. THAT SPEAKS VOLUMES! I happened to be in the school one day in Nov. ’12 and I heard her berate a teacher IN FRONT OF STUDENTS. She then proceeded to be, in my opinion, rude to a parent. There is a great deal of talk about bad teachers but what about bad principals? There is so much potential in new, enthusiastic, teachers who have chosen to enrich the lives of children rather than choosing a career that will make them rich. WHY ON EARTH WOULD WE THROW THESE YOUNG TEACHERS TO THE WOLVES BY SUBJECTING THEM TO PRINCIPALS LIKE ANN MARIE HENRY STEPHENS? SHAME ON THE NEW YORK PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM!


  1. Chancellor Fariña: Problems scurrying around Tweed | JD2718
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