Does Anyone Believe That Principals Are Hired Because They Can Do The Job Well?
by Betsy Combier
The new C-30 process was made a regulation soon after Bloomberg/Klein took over the school system. The new regulations took the parent involvement piece out, making members of the School Leadership Team the only potential C-30 participants. Formerly, parents who wanted to volunteer to look at resumes and interview candidayes for a school principal position, could. But these parents sometimes spoke out about the "undemocratic" process, so the NYC Department of Education took control over the election of School Leadership Team Members and then made it impossible for anyone not "elected" - read "appointed" - to the SLT could be involved. Of course none of this is written down, its' just the way the system works.
The Principal Prize
Friday, July 9, 2004
by Ron Isaac. EducationNews.org
There is no more eye-popping, jaw-dropping, and brain-numbing ordeal left to common folks than having a hand in the sticky business of picking a school principal. The process is always respected, especially when the outcome is never in doubt. Here is one typical case. It is not the product of the writer's imagination.
A veteran principal quits and a temporary replacement is installed. This replacement, an enfant-terrible of the new CEO-type management philosophy, is a darling of the superintendent with whom he has crossed paths before. This superintendent will have the final word over who the successful applicant will be and he will not need to articulate his reasons. Almost always, the "interim acting" principal can keep the job for the asking, but first a farce of formalities must be played out.
The school's Leadership Team interviews the candidates. The Team is given the names of not more than five candidates who have been pre-screened in this case by the same superintendent who already bestowed the favor of a provisional principalship on one of the current candidates. If it suits him, he may take into account the Team's unanimous verdict, particularly if it coincides with his own.
The majority of the Leadership Team must be parents of students. These parents need not be literate or otherwise qualified in any way. The remaining members are from the professional staff, including a supervisor who will be asked to rate the candidacy of the same boss under whom he is presently serving.
Within three hours, every resume' ( of which there are three copies each ) must be studied by as many as fourteen Team members. All applicants must be asked the identical five questions, agreed on unanimously by all members, in the form of a recitation from a prepared Department of Education script. After each interview, the applicant is rated on a merit scale from one to four, and the confidential sheets passed forward sometimes in plain view. The successful candidate will usually be the incumbent principal because each constituency has something to gain if evidence of their support somehow leaks out. Remember that every vote is a political act.
Among the Chancellor's Regulations are some strict prohibitions. You cannot ask the applicant whether he has been arrested or ever had a drug or alcohol problem. You are forbidden from knowing whether a female candidate prefers to be called Ms., Mrs., or Miss. Chancellor's Regulation C-30 Attachment No. 4 actually states, "Do not ask the candidate's sex." The words "do not" appear in thick bold type.
If an applicant has been dishonorably discharged from the military, you are mandated to assure him that such a discharge is not a bar to employment. You are banned from inquiring what the candidate's "native language is or how s/he acquired the ability to read, write, or speak a language..." It is off limits to ask "the candidate for a contact in case of an emergency."
The principal is the educational leader of any school. For power, prestige, and pay, it remains a coveted post. Yet only one or two candidates, including the incumbent, may actually show up to be interviewed. That is not due to panic attack. It is because of the perception that the legitimate democratic process of selection is neither legitimate nor democratic. In at least one case, a junior high principalship was advertised as an elementary school vacancy. People need to know what they're applying for so they can at least improvise their credentials.
There is more than one route by which principals are made. According to Chancellor's Regulation C-30, the former "two (2) year supervisory experience requirement for principal positions has been eliminated." For generations, new principals had at least ten years of teaching and supervisory experience before they presumed to apply for a principalship. Often they were published scholars. Today, many are in their third decade of life with no teaching or supervisory record. No seasoned classroom professional would take orders from such a greenhorn, no matter their authority.
According to the regulation governing the appointment of supervisors, "With guidelines provided by the Department of Human Resources, responsibility centers will determine if applicant pools are not representative of qualifying eligible lists...If the pools are not, then the filing period for the position will be extended...The DHS will determine when participation of a neutral observer is required." This writer has not found anyone who can clarify what this all means.
The selection benchmark for principals include "educational, managerial and administrative, and performance record criteria." That sounds thorough, but the descriptions are so vague and subjective that they can be bent to fit any aspirant. How, for example, is one to be "required to enunciate a clear mission" or "create linkages to benefit students at the school site"?
Most ironic is the heroic measure taken to preserve the hygienic appearance of (allegedly) done deals. The Chancellor's Regulation states that "information concerning applicants that was learned outside of the selection process shall not be revealed during the selection process." Further,, "no one may serve on a (selection) Committee if he is a close relative...of an applicant." How close is that?
Regardless of student demographics and teacher training, no school can run well without a solid and gifted principal. They should be chosen with care, courage, and for the right reason.