Let’s talk leadership

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.

I think having a conversation about teacher quality, retention, and compensation is very important. But right now we’re talking about leadership.

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.

And according to Catalyst Chicago, “between 2010 and 2012, 341 principals, or about 44 percent of the total, left their jobs.”

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.



One response to “Let’s talk leadership

  1. Pingback: Am I telling stories or seeking solutions? | Learning to the Max

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s