Opinion
School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Principals Tackle Herculean Tasks Every Day. Their Jobs Must Become More Manageable

April 19, 2016 1 min read
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To the Editor:

Psychologist and school consultant Robert Evans, in his March 30, 2016 Commentary “Principals, Get Your Irish On,” was right on target when he wrote that “if we truly wanted to attract, retain, and support the best and brightest principals, we would focus on making their jobs more doable.”

Indeed, a recent report, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation and penned by Paul Manna, a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary, argued that “principals are bearing more and more weight as old responsibilities persist and as new ones become layered on top of them.”

Principals today are spending more and more of their time on teacher evaluations and on setting performance standards. As instructional leaders of their schools, principals are also responsible for daily operations, student discipline, teachers’ professional development, budget management, work with families and the local community, and the building of a caring and inclusive school culture that has high expectations for teaching and learning.

I vividly remember my own days as a school principal, including one in which prior to arriving at my office to begin work, I had already had been notified of a school bus that had broken down, a teacher whose son was so ill that she could not come to work and hadn’t had time to find a substitute teacher, a flooded toilet, and a schoolwide Internet outage—as well as an irate parent who was waiting in my office to find out why her daughter was being punished for bullying another student.

All this had to be handled before I could tackle our new reading program for middle school students, as well as the issue that the only days available for the required teacher training were a specific Friday and Saturday morning, in spite of the conflict this raised with the teachers’ union and a previously scheduled upcoming school dance.

As the principal, I had to find solutions for every single problem.

Phyllis Gimbel

Professor

Educational Leadership

Bridgewater State University

Bridgewater, Mass.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2016 edition of Education Week as Principals Tackle Herculean Tasks Every Day. Their Jobs Must Become More Manageable

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