One of the sticking points between Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union is over who principals get to hire. Rahm wants to hold principals accountable for school performance based (solely?) on standardized test scores, so he wants to give them the autonomy to hire and fire who they see fit.
Rahm said he can’t hold principals accountable for better performance if they can’t control who they hire. Well then why would you hold a teacher accountable if they don’t get to pick their students?
You know, part of this is not a bad idea. Make the firing process a bit less cumbersome so it is clear and transparent but fair. Besides, there are tons of loopholes in the current system for principals to fire highly qualified and caring teachers anyways.
However, it is a big part of the union’s purpose to protect the jobs of the people it represents, so I don’t really fault them for trying to find their displaced/redefined/laid off members work.
From my experience, (by all means someone chime in if they have a different perspective) the principal position can be a very pretty political position.
Listen to WBEZ’s article about how a principal at a turnaround school “transferred out” kids to alternative, traditional neighborhood schools. Those students, instead of receiving the benefits of more resources, get scooted around to places “where no one knows” them. I got the impression that principals do this as favors to one another.
In my 6 years teaching in Chicago, I had 5 principals, 3 of them were first year principals.
Being a good leader takes time. It takes a good team. It takes a stable environment and the support to grow. (I also think it takes compassion, something Rahm is sorely lacking.)
We all make mistakes and hopefully we get the grace to learn from them. I worry that all these new principals will be operating out of fear that if they don’t create drastic improvements then not only will they be fired but the entire school will be shut down. I’ve worked in that environment. It is not conducive to learning.
What Rahm expects the leaders of his schools to achieve cannot be done by the current system he is trying to foist on schools.