The national association representing elementary school principals last week rejected a proposal to add middle schools to its name.
The board of directors of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, an Alexandria, Va.-based group that represents 28,500 principals, unanimously voted against the plan at its quarterly meeting, held in Washington.
A bylaw committee of the NAESP this past summer had approved changing the name to the “National Association of Elementary and Middle Schools Principals.”
Impetus for the proposal came from the fact that the 80-year-old organization has sought to recruit more middle school principals into its ranks, because only 5 percent to 10 percent of its members lead such schools, said Vincent L. Ferrandino, the association’s executive director. But the board decided that a name change wouldn’t persuade the middle school leaders to join, he said.
“The question for us is always, ‘How do you increase their numbers?’ But the board thought a name change wasn’t the best way to go, especially when they’re such a small part of our overall membership,” Mr. Ferrandino said. “We’ll just go with adding more services” to attract those principals.
About 60 percent of the nation’s elementary school principals have joined the organization, he added.
Had the 15-member board approved the proposal, the group’s members would have voted on it at their annual convention next April. The board of directors meets four times a year, and nine of its members are school principals, most of whom are elected from regions around the country.
Sue Swaim, the executive director of the National Middle School Association in Westerville, Ohio, said a name change by the NAESP would not have cut into her group’s membership, which represents 30,220 precollegiate and collegiate educators.
“Our organization is an umbrella organization. We have teachers, we have school board members, we have college professors, and we all work collaboratively,” she said.
Ms. Swaim added that both associations “serve 10- to 15-year-olds and varying grade configurations, and we all try to serve their needs, whether it’s [grades] K-8, K-6, 7-8.”
Mr. Ferrandino said his association would continue taking other steps to recruit more middle school principals.
Those measures include formally exchanging speakers with the middle school association at both organizations’ annual conventions. Ms. Swaim will speak at the elementary principals’ association’s yearly conference; Carole Kennedy, the past president of the NAESP, will speak at the middle school group’s convention next month.
Also, starting next year, the elementary principals’ association will publish a newsletter on middle schools.
The NAESP provides professional development, networking, and legal aid to its members.