Teaching Profession

Md. Board Weighs Alternative Route for Principals

By Jonathan Weisman — November 06, 1991 2 min read

Maryland would become only the third state to create an alternative route to the certification of principals that would allow non-educators to run schools, under a proposal considered last week by the state board of education.

If the board approves the proposal later this month, it will join New Jersey and West Virginia in having such a provision, according to Scott D. Thomson, a professor of education policy at George Mason University.

The Maryland proposal is opposed by some state education groups, however, which argue that principals who lack education experience will not be effective school leaders.

Other skeptics suggest the plan is not likely to have a significant impact, noting that New Jersey, the pioneer of the idea, has not had any principals follow the new route since it was established in 1988.

The Maryland measure would grant certification to job seekers with an understanding of curriculum development and instructional processes, leadership experience, and familiarity with education issues.

But unlike the traditional certification route, the proposed alternative would not require teaching experience, said Ronald A. Peiffer, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education.

The route was proposed to allow individuals with strengths not necessarily related to education administration to take over schools that require those skills, Mr. Peiffer said. For instance, he said, the process would open principalships to applicants with business-management experience or, in the case of a science or technology magnet school, to experts in those fields.

An alternative appointment would be for one year at one school and would have to be renewed annually.

Educators from state and national groups reacted to the hearing last week with dismay. “If you’re going to be the instructional leader of a school, you need to have walked in the shoes of the people you’re trying to lead,” said James Dryden, president-elect of the Maryland Council of Education Administrators.

Similar opposition was voiced in New Jersey when the law first was passed. Since then, though, the new route has proved ineffectual, Mr. Thomson said.

School-board members in New Jersey have feared that if an alternatively certified principal could not do the job, they would suffer politically, Mr. Thomson observed.

To date, no principals have been hired through that route, said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

In contrast, a West Virginia alternative-certification process for all school administrators, put in effect this June, has opened up a flood gate of interest, said Howard Kardatzke, director of professional education for the state education department.

But virtually all the applicants for the alternative route have come from within the education profession, taking advantage of laxer degree requirements.

Since July, the state has received 4,573 applications for administrator certification, Mr. Kardatzke said, compared with 84 applications in the same period last year.

A version of this article appeared in the November 06, 1991 edition of Education Week as Md. Board Weighs Alternative Route for Principals


School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
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.
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

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

Teaching Profession 4 Ways Districts Are Giving Teachers More Flexibility in Their Jobs
After a year-plus of pandemic schooling, some experts are seeing momentum for district leaders to reimagine what teaching can look like.
11 min read
Teacher working at home in front of camera.
Teaching Profession New Teaching Jobs May Emerge With Continued Demand for Virtual Learning
As school districts plan for online learning to continue beyond the pandemic, they'll need teachers to staff those virtual classrooms.
4 min read
Teaching Profession Opinion It's Teacher Appreciation Week. Flowers? Mugs? We're Looking for Something More
This year, teachers were hailed as heroes then denounced as obstructionists, say seven State Teachers of the Year. Here’s what they need.
Owen Bondono, Alisa Cooper de Uribe, Amanda Hargreaves, Kimberly Hee Stock, Justin Johnson, Susan Rosato & Jennifer Wolfe
4 min read
Illustration of a mug.
Collage by Laura Baker and Elizabeth Rich/Education Week (Image sources: mustafahacalaki/DigitalVisionVectors and E+)
Teaching Profession Teacher Salaries Are Increasing. See How Your State Compares
The National Education Association warns that some of the progress in teacher pay could be jeopardized by the pandemic.
2 min read
Teacher Salary Rankings 04262021 943331302
iStock/Getty Images Plus