"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 29, 2007

NYC Principals Get No Respect

School principals in New York want more money and a contract to offset their miserable existence in Bloomberg and Klein's brave new world of corporate control. This is a world in which principals will replace the traditional superintendents as the new "field commanders" in the war against "the magic and poetry of teaching and learning." If I didn't read it in the New York Times today, I wouldn't believe it. Perhaps a salary increase will make it easier to join the testing Gestapo and rule with an iron fist and a hardened heart.
Under Mr. Bloomberg’s latest plans, announced in his State of the City address this month, principals will gain power but also face far more scrutiny. They will be held accountable for students’ progress and for rigorously reviewing teachers up for tenure. They will be rated by superintendents in the chancellor’s office and also, for the first time, by the staffs in their own schools.

And since the mayor plans to eliminate traditional superintendents’ offices, principals will become the field commanders.

Many principals applaud the concept. Kenneth Baum, principal of the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, a Bronx middle school, said, “These kind of empowering moves for principals allow us to make the school-based decisions that make sense for us.”

Yet others complained that the emphasis by Mr. Bloomberg and Chancellor
Joel I. Klein on corporate-style management and data-driven accountability, and relentless pressure from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, were drowning out the magic and poetry of teaching and learning.

“I think the principals as a group feel very battle weary,” said a Brooklyn high school principal, who asked not to be identified out of fear of alienating superiors. “We’re tired. We don’t feel like there’s any real vision coming from the leadership around instruction.” This principal added: “The emotional and hopeful and romantic piece of education is left behind by businessmen.”

Still, what echoed most in the interviews was bitterness over the lack of a raise to compensate for the added duties.
Oh, those hopeless romantics

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