EDITORIAL: Principals should be leaders, not bureaucrats

2012-09-10T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Principals should be leaders, not bureaucrats nwitimes.com
September 10, 2012 12:00 am  • 

An education revolution is under way in Indiana, one that affects not just student performance, but the entire delivery process for education. These changes will require adjustment throughout the system.

The next reform is to base teacher salaries on their performance. The implementation of merit pay means teachers rated "ineffective" or "improvement necessary" won't see raises, while teachers rated "effective" or "highly effective" will be rewarded.

Implementation of this process will be time-consuming. Teachers should be judged not just on their children's test scores, but also on how well the teachers themselves perform in the classroom — how they manage their children's behavior, how they work with children one on one, how they explain the concepts children are to learn, and more.

As Indiana begins to implement performance-based pay, principals will need to devote more time to performing those evaluations.

This is, of course, what leadership is all about. Principals are supposed to help create the right climate for learning in their schools. That includes knowing what the teachers are doing in their classrooms and, where necessary, making suggestions for improvements.

Superintendents and school boards must recognize this responsibility and encourage principals to embrace this new role. After all, teachers need feedback if they are to improve, along with encouragement when they're already at the top of their game.

There are other responsibilities principals must attend to, including disciplinary issues for individual students, filling out necessary reports and orders, and strategic planning. There's a lot of paperwork involved in running a school.

Because evaluations now have more importance attached to them, principals are at risk of allowing the paperwork to overwhelm them.

But priorities must be set. Principals should be encouraged to spend more time improving the instruction in their schools instead of paperwork and other bureaucratic hassles.

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