To the Editor:
A recent article, “Training Programs Connect Principals to District Realities” (Dec. 5, 2012), outlines the ways that university education schools and districts are working together to provide principals with on-the-job training. This collaboration is one way to ensure that principals receive ongoing professional development throughout their careers. Yet there are still more resources that we can use, and we must pursue them all to ensure that we’re doing everything that we can for our students.
A growing and robust field of research confirms that school leadership is absolutely critical to schools’ and students’ success. Despite its importance, we know that many principals still lack the training and skills necessary to effectively lead. Principals have proved themselves as impassioned educators, but they haven’t necessarily acquired the knowledge to effectively navigate multimillion-dollar budgets, motivate their staffs, and coordinate other management and operational issues—all while directing student learning.
In addition to the valuable on-the-job principal training being provided by university education schools and school districts, business can play a meaningful role in principal training by applying core leadership experience in our schools and equipping principals with knowledge and skills to plan strategically, organize professional development for teachers and administrators, and build strong school communities that ultimately produce better student outcomes.
We see this every day at the organization I work for, PENCIL, where we have paired hundreds of school and business leaders in customized, yearlong partnerships to address school needs.
We’ve seen data that show that principals are more comfortable implementing effective new policies and procedures and in their role as leaders. In fact, we have seen that after principals receive this kind of training, teachers are more likely to rate them as better managers.
School leadership is too critical to ignore, and we should find more ways to provide the resources that principals need to become effective managers. Business has an abundance of human resources and intellectual capital that can benefit our schools. And there is no end to the number of passionate and talented leaders from the business community who are happy to share their knowledge and experience with their counterparts in public education.
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as Businesses Can Help Schools and Principals