Chancellor Fariña: Problem Principals
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.
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.