School Principal Shortage

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.

6 thoughts on “School Principal Shortage

  1. It’s bad everywhere. Principal shortages aren’t the problem here in Texas; funding is. The district my wife is a school nurse in is fixing to lay off most of the new teachers hired in the last year or two. Some schools could close. Conservative legislators here refuse to increase taxes to keep things going at a par level, thinking spending cuts is the only way to go.

    • Nearly every state is having the same debate which of course parallels the national one. Washington state’s budget deficit is $4.6b, which is quite large given our pop. Not sure how, but so far at least, teacher cuts have been limited.

      • The district in which I work is trying to bridge a budget shortfall gap of more than 7.5 million for next year due to cuts at the state level. They are trying to find creative ways to cut the budget without cutting teachers. One way they are doing this is by combining two elementary schools into one for a year. They are also talking about raising class sizes in core classes to 33 and filling CTE classes to capacity and limiting the elective options. It’s a scary time to be a first-year teacher. Hope I still have a job come September.

      • Thanks for that D. Sounds like you might be spared as a result of enlightened leadership. Sure hope so. In related news, our 2011 property taxes are up $300 even though the valuation is of course lower.

  2. Are you kidding me? Where are the shortages? For several years I have been trying to apply for a Principal position in the Eastern U.S. My professional summary includes the following:
    •20 years experience teaching
    •9 years experience in education administration
    •2 years experience in academic business and operations
    •Experience in writing academic curriculum from K-12 in all academic subjects
    •Development and maintenance of school web site that enhances communication
    •Trained in Accelerated Schools Project, Learning Focused Schools, and AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination)

    I currently hold a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and General Science, a Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision, and a Doctorate degree in Leadership and Management in Education. Due to a lay-off in Elbert County Georgia, I am currently working as a (K-12) substitute teacher for the Knox County Schools in Tennessee teaching all academic subjects. I am looking for an opportunity and willing to relocate.

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