Interesting dueling quotes in an Education Week story this week on the high turnover among principals and whether it’s cause for concern.
University of Texas researcher Ed J. Fuller, who just released data on the retention rates of newly hired principals in Texas, said:
“We think the job has outgrown the ability of one person to handle it. Nobody is staying long enough to make connections or shepherd a reform through.”
Susan M. Gates, a senior RAND Corp. economist who has studied principals’ career patterns, said:
“If you put someone in the principalship and it just doesn’t work out, do you want to keep them there just because it’s good to have low turnover or do you want to get somebody in there who’s good at the job?”
I have interviewed researchers who aren’t at all bothered by the turnover in education, whether teachers or administrators. Their position is that the work is hard and that some people aren’t cut out for it. If they leave, so be it.
I visited Atlanta’s Parks Middle School Tuesday where principal Christopher Waller is credited with overseeing remarkable academic gains. In literature about the school and its turnaround, I read this quote by Waller explaining why he hired an assistant principal, Gregory Reid, to deal with discipline.
“If I kept doing all of the disciplinary work, I would never really have become the principal. Having Reid on board has allowed me to be the principal, to deal with the things that principals have to deal with.”
Can principals handle discipline, academics and personnel? Or has the job gown too big for a single person?