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Firing the Principal Does Not Guarantee Improvement

August, 2010 Article by Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D. Volume 3 Issue 1:

 

 

School districts that opt to fire the principal to qualify for millions in federal funds are not guaranteed school improvement.

Many school districts that have underperforming schools can opt to replace the principal, replace at least half of the instructional staff, convert the school to a charter school, or close the school and send the students to a better performing school to qualify for their share of the $3.5 billion in Title 1 School Improvement Grants.

The problem with choosing to fire the principal is that this option does not take into consideration the culture that facilitates an underperforming school.

Many underperforming schools are representative of a dysfunctional organization. Dysfunctional organizations exhibit behaviors that compete with the mission and goals set by the leader. This results in a culture that blames other individuals and external elements for lack of student academic progress.

For example, other staff members may decide to deny their contribution to the student’s lack of progress. They continue their pattern by blaming parents and students. They will resort to communication techniques which emphasize negative criticisms without acknowledging how their own behavior contributes to the school’s dysfunction. Finally, they cover-up their behavior by refusing to discuss their inadequacies and now the principal must intervene.

The principal must choose to support the staff or the parents and students. In many cases the principal must support the staff or the staff will rebel and undermine the instructional process and continue to contribute to the detriment of the school and the progress of the students. Whatever choice the principal makes the principal is now a product of the school’s culture.

Instead of changing the parts in the organization and hoping the organization will transform, the organization must undergo a transformation process that transforms the culture of the school.

This involves a team building collaboration process involving all stakeholders including the students.

Schools can complete this transformation by:

Conducting an independent educational analysis that will objectively evaluate the culture of the school.

Involving all stakeholders in a collaborative process that will focus on improving student achievement.

 
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