To the Editor:
The recent Commentary by Kerri Briggs, Jacquelyn Davis, and Gretchen Rhines Cheney accurately points out why a national focus zeroing in on teacher effectiveness is shortsighted without an equal and critical emphasis on creating and developing great school leaders (“Teacher Effectiveness, Yes. But What About Principals?” May, 9, 2012).
Great schools need both great leaders and great teachers. Pipeline preparation is incredibly important, and the George W. Bush Institute’s Alliance to Reform Education Leadership initiative is doing a superb job in identifying what matters in creating strong educational leaders.
What also matters equally is what kind of support, development, and acceleration of skills these practicing leaders receive once they are in the positions. Fifty percent of these leaders currently leave their positions before five years pass. We must recognize how exceedingly difficult these positions are, and how much continued support and development are necessary so that school leaders can effectively transform schools into strong communities of learning enabling all children to succeed.
School leaders are not cooked and done after initial training or even after a year of coaching. The right kind of professional development after placement in a job will not only retain our good-to-great school leaders, but also ensure they will be able to meet the standards discussed by the Wallace Foundation in their recent report “The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning,” as well as those of the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium regarding the critical work that needs to be accomplished for all of our students.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
School Leaders Network
A version of this article appeared in the June 06, 2012 edition of Education Week as Great Teachers and Great Leaders Are Necessary