Should principals walk the plank?

No child likes to be sent to the principal's office. Some students in Tucson, Arizona must be thanking their lucky stars. As the district contemplates an 18 percent budget cut, it seems some schools may cut their vice principals, share principals, or even abolish the school-leader position altogether. But will this plan be as successful as the Maersk Alabama without its captain? The move is not without precedent: there are approximately 80 teacher-led charter schools operating around the country with varying rates of success, according to an Education Next article (not Phi Delta Kappan, as erroneously cited by Ms. Bodfield). But unlike most Tucson schools, these teacher-centric schools tend to be tiny. Even strong supporters of the model admit it's neither replicable on the large scale nor the solution for large districts' budget woes. After all, principals do more than just walk the halls handing out high-fives; most successful schools owe their dynamic results in large measure to high energy, smart, dedicated leadership. This idea may deserve the Navy SEAL-pirate treatment.

"Principals: Do schools need them full time?," by Rhonda Bodfield, Arizona Daily Star, April 11, 2009

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