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Thompson: Good Principals Run Interference

Nadelstern Former New York City Deputy Chancellor Eric Nadelstern complains that the autonomy of NYC's principals has been diminished, adding that, "we seem intent on proving, once again, that unlike the schools, the central office is incapable of change, let alone innovation." When Nadelstern was a principal, his job was to "filter out the noise and distractions that the political establishment within and outside the school system" invariably imposed on schools.  The best principals, he said, practice “creative non-compliance” to protect teachers.  The NYT Times Michael Winerip interviewed one such principal, Jacqui Getz, who takes the point one step further, saying that principals need to protect teachers from the types of policies mandated when Nadelstern was empowering good and awful principals.  Getz says the "32-variable equation" concocted by NYC to rate teachers is "degrading."  She says that  "these tests are so unreliable; I wouldn’t count them 10 percent, 8 percent, 1 percent. You don’t want teachers feeling belittled; you want them to keep their dignity so they can be at their best.”  The question, of course, is how do you empower good policy-makers and principals, as well as good teachers and outside pressure groups, without allowing power-hungry administrators to terrorize and humiliate educators.  The first step to reform is accept the fact that there is no answer to that dilemma and to accept the need for a system of checks and balances. - JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.


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