Education Opinion


April 14, 1999 2 min read

Principal Concerns: Before they take the plunge into administration, what dimensions of the job have teachers weighed?

Two professors at Western Michigan University asked 189 students in the school’s educational-leadership program that question.

The results were somewhat surprising. Almost 85 percent of the master’s degree candidates ranked the relationships between the board, the administration, and teachers in the school district where they would work as their most important consideration among the 10 options given. Salary--which in other surveys has come out on top--ranked second, held to be important by 76 percent of the students.

“A lot of it boiled down to relationships, trust, and credibility,” said Van E. Cooley, who along with co-author Jianping Shen reported the survey results in the April NASSP Bulletin.

Of the top six factors, three concerned professional relationships. In addition to those among district leaders, the master’s-degree candidates said they would consider the quality of community support for schools and the reputation of the superintendent. Harmonious relationships were a plus; contentious ones a minus.

Association Turnover: The National Middle School Association puts on two major conferences annually, holds weekend workshops, publishes various reports and journals, and keeps track of its roughly 20,000 members, who are mostly educators. All with a staff of just over 25 people.

But last month the payroll dropped by four employees, all in the same department. Two were fired, and two others quit later that month. That left a data-entry worker as the only veteran in the professional-development department, which is responsible for the conventions and the workshops.

“There was much expertise and know-how lost,” said Lynn Wallich, who was fired March 17 by Executive Director Sue Swaim. Ms. Wallich, who had been at the Columbus, Ohio-based NMSA for seven years, headed the department and served as one of three assistant executive directors. She said she wasn’t given a reason for her firing, which prompted the two voluntary departures.

Ms. Swaim acknowledged that she did not expect all of the losses at the same time. “A transition like this is challenging,” she said.

Because of privacy concerns, Ms. Swaim declined to discuss the reasons for the two firings, which she said were not related. She said she didn’t expect any disruption in the organization’s activities.

--Bess Keller bkeller@epe.org

A version of this article appeared in the April 14, 1999 edition of Education Week as Administrators