Fordham has argued that principals need to function more like CEOs, handling not just a school's academic mission but also the many complexities of running a small organization. Yet when we asked principals how they view themselves and their responsibilities, we concluded that "they see their role as ???middle manager'--not CEO."

Now the National Association of Elementary School Principals weighs in. NAESP's "Vision 2021" predicts that by the year 2021--the hundredth anniversary of NAESP--principals will be CLOs, or Chief Learning Officers. As reported in Education Week, "In those schools of the future, principals will shift away from a managerial role," using new technologies, focusing on data, and developing "learning communities." But who will run the school as an organization? Here the NAESP gets timid:

Some experts argue that no one person can do the job of principal and new structures are required, like a team of leaders including a business manager or chief of operations and a chief academic officer. Whatever the future configuration, principals will practice learner-centered leadership and seek leadership contributions from multiple sources to balance management and leadership roles.

"Leadership contributions"? Someone needs to be in charge of the school as a whole, to make sure that the school's finances, staffing, facilities, and instructional model are in synch. So who's the boss? If the NAESP is any indication, it seems we were right--today's principals aren't exactly clamoring for this responsibility.

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