School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Principals Need Access to Support

October 30, 2018 1 min read

To the Editor:

I read with gratitude each piece of Education Week‘s special report on principals (“Principals Under Pressure,” October 17, 2018). As it demonstrates, a principal’s job is demanding, complex, and rewarding; it also requires incredible vision, focus, and passion. One element the series missed was the role that districts and nonprofits can play in systemically supporting principals.

We don’t have to wait for a principal to report being “overwhelmed” to assign them a coach. We can look at the data and see that almost all first-year principals need help with time management and system creation. We can proactively offer those supports long before they ask. The formula for more systematic support is simple: Ask principals what they need, identify programs that meet those needs, and match programs to people.

My organization—The Chicago Public Education Fund—surveyed all Chicago public school principals in 2018 and had an 82 percent response rate. We partnered with the district and the city’s charter networks to design programming for 300 principals in response to principals’ concerns. Nearly 40 principals are receiving the kind of time-management supports highlighted in the report, and others are receiving specific instructional supports or help with culture and climate. More than 150 of the principals are learning directly from a colleague on myriad topics including equity in decision-making, effectively serving diverse learners and providing student social-emotional supports.

Principals in these programs are 60 percent more likely to improve, and Chicago’s principal retention rate is significantly higher than the urban district average. If we wait until principals say they need help, we are already too late. We must take a proactive approach to support, or we will keep losing too many principals, too soon.

Heather Anichini

President and CEO

The Chicago Public Education Fund

Chicago, Ill.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 2018 edition of Education Week as Principals Need Access to Support


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management L.A. Unified to Require Testing of Students, Staff Regardless of Vaccination Status
The policy change in the nation's second-largest school district comes amid rising coronavirus cases, largely blamed on the Delta variant.
Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
4 min read
L.A. schools interim Sup Megan K. Reilly visits Fairfax High School's "Field Day" event to launch the Ready Set volunteer recruitment campaign to highlight the nationwide need for mentors and tutors, to prepare the country's public education students for the upcoming school year. The event coincides with National Summer Learning Week, where U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is highlighting the importance of re-engaging students and building excitement around returning to in-person learning this fall. high school, with interim LAUSD superintendent and others. Fairfax High School on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, CA.
In this July 14, 2021, photo, Los Angeles Unified School District interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly speaks at an event at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. Reilly announced a new district policy Thursday requiring all students and employees of the Los Angeles school district to take weekly coronavirus tests regardless of their vaccination status.
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times via TNS
School & District Management Why School Boards Are Now Hot Spots for Nasty Politics
Nationalized politics, shifts in local news coverage, and the rise of social media are turning school board meetings into slug fests.
11 min read
Collage of people yelling, praying, and masked in a board room.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion The Six Leadership Lessons I Learned From the Pandemic
These guiding principles can help leaders prepare for another challenging year—and any future crises to come.
David Vroonland
3 min read
A hand about to touch a phone.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images
School & District Management Opinion When the National Education Debate Is Too Noisy, Look Local
A local network of your peers can offer not just practical advice, but an emotional safe harbor.
Christian M. Elkington
2 min read
A team of workmen on scaffolding rely on each other.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Getty Images