The Obama administration wants to improve public education by removing principals from poorly performing schools. Far fewer principals than planned have been replaced because most states are suffering from a shortage of credentialed, able principals.
As a result, Washington State is proposing an alternative routes principal certification plan for non-educators. Yes, for non-educators. One of the first things I learned at the different schools I worked at as a beginning teacher was few of my colleagues respected my principals even though they had taught previously. The majority sentiment was they had lost touch with teaching’s challenges. Adversarial teacher-admin relations were the norm.
How on earth will non-educators earn the respect of teachers? Legions of teachers will exit faculty meetings saying, “What the hell does he/she know about child or adolescent development, about curriculum and assessment, about teaching excellence?”
One wonders, what are the sponsoring state legislators thinking?
A friend of mine is a well respected high school principal. We run together. He tells stories. I listen. Often in amazement. It’s an incredibly demanding job. Impossible if faculty don’t respect you. There are lots of ways for leaders to earn respect, but the main one is to identify closely enough with the people you lead that they conclude, “He/she gets me and gets my work. They understand.” No certification program will compensate for non-educators’ lack of classroom teaching experience; consequently, they will struggle endlessly to earn the respect of their faculty.
But the news isn’t entirely bad. In the interest of fairness, I’m sure teachers will soon have the opportunity to run businesses, work as military officers, head up police departments, pastor churches, or practice law.