Monday, June 30, 2008

New Principals

An interesting article in the Baltimore Sun here says there will be about 45 new principals by the start of the new year. This is up from the approximately 30 new principals last year. I guess this could just be normal blip in attrition, but I'll bet that the new structure is a big factor.

I wonder how the new funding structure is causing this turnover increase. Since the metrics for success haven't been finalized, I can't imagine these principals are failing to adjust and being asked to leave. Is this an indication that these principals aren't interested in trying their hands at increased autonomy? I know that in general people are resistant to change and this kind of massive change might encourage principals to quit or retire early, but I would think, that people who have decided they want to be in charge of a school, would want the power to make their school better. The idea of these changes is to give the principals more power. Is that something that these principals don't believe?

The idealistic part of me is saddened that so many people would quit before giving the new structure a good try. Certainly it's chaotic and scary, but challenges are what makes us grow. In reality, I'm sure the politics that I'm not aware of make it a much more complicated decision. All I know is, that as a parent, quitting or retiring is not really an option. So, I choose to be optimistic that these changes will improve BCPSS overall, and I'll keep working with the schools that we're involved with to try to make it work.


  1. Do people realize how hard creating a budget is? The response is that college presidents are responsible for budgets as well. Well, colleges also have accountants working for them. And private companies have these people called chief financial officers--I'm not so sure you could pay me enough money to assume that risk as a principal

    Full disclosure, I am not a principal nor do I have any inside information. On the surface, it is easy to conclude that Mr. Alonso's quest for change and the new structure is the cause of this massive turnover--I believe there is more to the story.

    As much as Mr. Alonso talks about autonomy in the school budget, he sure does not encourage it in discipline policy. Mr. Alonso has to authorize long term suspensions--that's called micromanagement.

  2. A pretty sizeable chunk of those new principals are replacements for others who have gone out on retirement or (in one case that I know of) sabbatical. BCPSS is at a point where a lot of people who have gone past the 30-year mark are finally saying "the hell with it" and bailing out because they can.

    The flip side of this is that you're not really getting a lot of new, younger principals. Some of them are folks from Central Office who are being re-assigned because of the current reorganization. I don't know, therefore, if this means that the new crop of principals will be any better or worse than the old one. It's going to take a serious cycle of attrition and replacement before we know anything for sure.

  3. Not all of these will be new principals exactly, some will be those who were put into PDC and North Avenue over the years and will be placed back. Some are just going from one school to another. I know of one Principal who has was at one Elem/Middle, then to a Charter and now will be sent to another school in August. Not because he is good but because of tenure (although we don't call it that anymore). No one questions this we keep blaming the parent and the students. Children need structure in schools as well as at home. If they are unsure about a good teacher, pricipal etc. staying it puts pressure on them also. It makes it hard for them to get close to teachers, it makes it hard for the teachers to trust the principals because of the uncertainty. Alonso and the Board does not take these things into consideration when they do these things.


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