Thursday, July 11, 2013

Principal pipeline: Promise and hurdles

Developing a cadre of effective principals isn't easy, according to a new Wallace Foundation study of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and five other districts.

"Building a Stronger Principalship"  chronicles the first-year efforts of six districts trying to develop a  "principal pipeline."  Those districts  --   CMS;  New York City;  Denver;  Gwinnett County, Ga.; Hillsborough County, Fla.;  and Prince George's County, Md.  --  will continue the grant-supported study through 2016,  trying to find better ways to recruit,  train and evaluate principals and assistant principals.

West Charlotte's John Wall (center), one of Morrison's first principal hires

One early hazard noted:  A focus on accountability can lead to principal firings,  "thus simultaneously increasing the demand for new principals while making the position less attractive to prospective applicants." That may sound familiar in an area that has seen significant principal churn and complaints that veterans are being run off.  But CMS wasn't one of the three districts where the issue was noted.  The study includes this quote from New York City (a district that hires as many as 200 principals a year):  "The principalship is not that attractive any more. People see it as a career ender. Think about it: you go into a failing school, you’re given maybe two years to turn it around, and if you don’t, you’re gone [and no longer have a job]."

The study gives CMS credit for a strong partnership with Winthrop University,  which collaborated with district leaders to create a Leaders for Tomorrow graduate program to train principals with the skills CMS seeks. The district is also noted for its five-year program of coaching and education for new principals.

The study focuses on 2011-12,  the transition year between Peter Gorman and Heath Morrison.

During his first year,  which just ended,  Morrison named 26 principals,  including one for the new Grand Oak Elementary that brings CMS to 160 schools.  Morrison told me he counts it as a victory that there seems to be less confusion and turmoil about principal changes than there was when he arrived.  He credits that partly to better communication and community involvement.  He's also striving to create enough of a leadership bench that when a successful principal moves on,  there's a member of that school team ready to step in.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

When did school Superintendents and Principals become so inept that they can't follow simple hiring techniques? It probably comes from putting educators in human resource positions like CMS just did with Cockerham.

I'm tired of hearing complaints about teachers. If their are poor performing teachers Principals simply need to be diligent and terminate them. Even with North Carolina's Career Status, teachers can be fired like any other employee as long as you follow the rules. This is no different than any other human resource process in most companies.

I teach in a large High school where I am proud to say 97% of teachers take great care in what they do and are effective. However it is a constant frustration among our faculty that the small percentage who should not be teaching are not dealt with. They occasionally receive poor evaluations, warnings, conferences but principals simply do not follow through.

If there is a poor performing teacher in your child's school blame the principal. Do not blame the teaching profession, teaching education programs, tenure or lack of performance pay. Simply look at the Principal and ask why they are not performing their management duties.

Anonymous said...

CMS Tyrants Beware

Teachers are not rented mules. The days of reckoning are coming.There is a movement of "common goals for our common core" coming.

STRIKE !!!

Anonymous said...

There still seems to be a subtle push out of veteran educators who are interested in becoming a principal in CMS. It is still all about "who you know." While Morrison is new, there is still a regime of people who are able to put "their people" in place to become administrators. They are able to by-pass the standard route to becoming a principal compared to those who receive outright degrees in educational administration. It is both amazing and unfair to see participants in programs like New Leaders and Emerging Leaders become principals by being put on the "fast track." Also, the CMS AP/Principal Pool is a joke!!!!!

Anonymous said...

7:50 am
That is one of the best comments I have read on education. Why is NC attacking teachers when it is the principals’ job to fire poor teachers? Teachers in NC do not have the pay, rights, benefits or protections of a teacher in a major US city. There are not Union protections or the ability for teachers to strike.
As a manager of employees myself I can only speculate there is no one to take their place. When Charlotte and NC had a good economy it was necessary to keep underperforming employees when there is no one to take their place. The hope is that you can train them and make them better performers. I can only image CMS and NC is not the first choice for most educators. With the retirement of baby boomers it will probably get worst. My friend’s step-father is a teacher and he just left NC to go to South Carolina to teach. You know there is a problem when SC becomes a preferred location for education.

Anonymous said...

8:52: I don't know about emerging leaders, but the Winthrop cohort (Leaders of Tomorrow), lasts 2 years and candidates earn a master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Anonymous said...

News Flash: Principals in NC can't hire or fire teachers!
Principals and school teams can interview candidates and make a "recommendation to hire," but the actual job offer is made by the HR Department. Also, principals make recommendations for teachers not to have a new contract for the next school year. In NC, the local school board makes the decision not to rehire. We live in the least unionized state in the nation. NC legislators allow schools and private industry standards to operate under "At-Will" employment practices that date back to antiquated master-servant relationships. Our legislators should look at revising these practices and making NC look favorable again as a leader in education and educator pride.

Wiley Coyote said...

We can talk about superintendent, principal and teacher competence all we want.

The bottom line is, public education sucks and has for decades and not because of bad principals or teachers.

It sucks because politicians and educrats keep it that way due to ongoing politically correct, failed diversity policies and not demanding accountability from parents and their offspring.

Also add lack of accountability from those same educrats when it comes to programs like Bright Beginnings and the NSLP, which continue to collectively waste billions of dollars.

Anonymous said...

It evens out. Some of the SC teachers are leaving for NC. But the over-riding point is taken that teachers done hire or fire. Principals do. I worked with an inept teacher for years until I left to teach for a charter school. He is still at my former school, and the new principal has finally seen the light and moved him to a position in which he can do little harm: computer lab. But he should have been dismissed years ago.

Anonymous said...

7:50,
I hear many teachers are also going to VA. I myself come from up north and found it hard to get a job there after college but with less people going into education and the retirement of baby boomers more positions are opening up. Teachers should start looking for other options. With fracking and the mini oil booms, towns are popping up in states where teachers are respected. Many states want teachers to have experience before hiring them. This would be a smart move for both young and more experienced NC educators.

Anonymous said...

MOrrison did not hire Wall. Get a clue as to a timeline on CMS events. Wall was in place and paid a kings ransom prior to Heath even signing on. I actually support Mr. Wall in his efforts to fix a broken school. He provides results and does not put up with alot of games. He seems to be a good leader in the CMS system so hats off to him. Dont give Heath credit for this hire.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:30

News Flash: If you are a competent Principal your "hiring suggestions" are always honored and as the person who posted at 7:50 stated terminating an employee is simply a matter of following the process. I have hired and fired employees for years in a heavily unionized industry in New York. While it is not easy to terminate an employee as long as you are diligent it can be done and is your responsibility.

Terms like "recommendation to hire" exist as a means of plausible deny ability. I truly hope that you are not a Principal because you obviously do not have the back bone for it.

Ben Cook said...

Time to sharpen the point! Why is Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools placing academic administrators in charge of Human Resources? While these individuals did perform a low level form of HR administration, it is far from the ability to develop a strategy that will aid a school district in designing, administering, and leading such an effort of Human Resources Management for a Local Edcuation Agency (LEA) or school district.

CMS, like any other school district, needs professionals in HR with a background from working in a similar organization (public sector) to craft an effective HR program. Such a program could address some of the personnel issues confronting the district and lead to ACCOUNTABILITY of low performing personnel which would include principals lacking the ability to adminster policy.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:50 a.m., Heath Morrison started as superintendent July 1, 2012. John Wall's hiring was announced in late July, and his start date was listed as Aug. 1, 2012, when I asked CMS for a list of principals hired/appointed by Morrison. I don't doubt that some of the recruiting and groundwork started before Morrison took office (though Morrison also got involved with CMS decisions as soon as he was hired in April 2012). But I'd be shocked if Morrison's name isn't the one on Wall's contract.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,
We all know parents and students cannot be held accountable.. Education is all about the “good teacher”, not the good student. No one is doing studies on what makes a good student. Bill Gates is not talking about it so it does not count. To hold some one responsible for their own education, that’s crazy talk.

Anonymous said...

Wiley -

No intelligent person disagrees with your comment (on today's board, others are a different story). The problem is how to hold parents accountable without opening the flood gates to every law suit declaring that we have violated the 14th amendment. If we begin expelling all the students that we should then we simply transfer the burden to the CMPD.

I would love to see schools return to their original mission of academics. Not feeding and disciplining kids, not community outreach and not acting as a secondary Department of social services, just simply academics.

Anonymous said...

Education needs to be brought back to a local level (Local schools, with local school boards and local teachers and principals.) The best schools in our country are small town schools. Principals should decide who works and does not work in their school. There should be a reasonable process to fire underperforming teachers like any company would have. Teachers should be given the flexibility to teach and teach only. Coaching, clubs, lunch duties, parking lot duties, bureaucratic paper work and all the non essential responsibilities pushed on to teachers should be off the table. Students that are disruptive should be removed. Principals should run the school and teachers should teach. I should not see my son’s football coach whom is also teacher driving the bus to an away game.
The last thing CMS needs is to pay millions of dollars on a study to see if we need an HR department.

For what its worth said...

We, as CMS will only begin to doreal education reforms when we refuse to take federal money and the strings attached to it. There are plenty of laws in place to cover the necessary considerations with the federal strings. Convince the state legislators to give back al lof Gov Bev's concrete she loaded us up on and get back to running schools for the purpose of education. When the students won't and don't behave, turn them and their family unit over to the Mental Gealth department and send their lesson assignment home once a week and let the family unit do the educating. Follow-up once every 2 weeks with a hoem visit.

Folks get a little common sense. Quit sacrificing your children's education with the schools that illiterate baby momas are running.

BolynMcClung said...

.
MANY YEARS AGO…………..

There was a locally owned appliance dealership that had many retail outlets throughout Charlotte.

The one on South Blvd had a succession of managers because the store’s performance wasn’t as consistent and as good as the others.

Finally the ownership got wise. It wasn’t the managers. It was the middleclass economy that thrived on over-time…or the lack of it by the families that needed TVs and washers. Once the manager was allowed to weather a cycle of good and bad times the chain realized it had a store leader that understood the customers.

Maybe CMS might pay attention to that. It might be as important for a principal to know the families as what CMS central wants. And CMS central might need to learn that knowledge of the customer is not instanteous.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
.

Anonymous said...

For what it is worth, CMS is one of the best large urban school districts in the country. CMS educates circles around DC and NY. It did it in spite of Gorman and with Heath. Teachers and local school principles should be rewarded for it. The schools that under perform in our districts are in the worst parts of town. We have many High poverty schools that do well but the consistent poor performers have issues beyond education. I personally do not care who pays for it but our teachers should see some of the money.

Anonymous said...

I agree,
Get rid of all the educrats that are all over Mecklenburg and start paying teachers good wages and most of CMS problems will fix themselves. If you do not work in schools with children then you should be paid less or gone. We need to get rid of this top down hierarchy. Every year I take my children to school we have a whole new staff. I loved my son’s teacher and was looking forward to my daughter having her but she left. She said she loved the kids and the school but could not afford to stay in NC any longer. I have never had a teacher for anyone of my children I did not like. I think it is time to start looking in other areas for CMS’s problems.

Anonymous said...

Mr. 9:30: the word is deniability, not deny ability. de·ni·a·bil·i·ty/dɪˌnaɪəˈbɪləti/ Show Spelled [dih-nahy-uh-bil-uh-tee] the ability to deny something, as knowledge of or connection with an illegal activity.
Are you serious in calling out some one else?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:17

Thanks professor. The error was due to auto-correct. This is a blog not a term paper. Try to read the posts and understand their meaning instead of attempting to act as the blog editor by copying and pasting from an online dictionary. Obviously your the the same person who posted at 9:30am so I can now assume that I've hit a nerve.

Anonymous said...

12:17,
Older people like the educrats down town do not understand Blogs but they can cut and paste from an online dictionary. They are learning, be patient.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:17,

Really correcting a spelling error on a blog. Don't be dick.

Anonymous said...

"A district is as stable and grounded as it's superintendent, according to some leaders and education experts. And given findings in a recent report from the Council of the Great City Schools, which specifically states that the average tenure of urban superintendents increased from 2.3 years in 1999 to 3.6 years in 2010, an increase of 56 percent, educators across the nation are celebrating.

"It's good to see tenure going up," says Dan Domenech, executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, which released a similar report, "The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study," in December. "It's become very apparent, and the research is strong in that area, that one of the key elements in running a successful district is STABILITY. So if you have a revolving door, it's counterproductive, and there's never a chance to establish reforms or create programs that make a difference. Even a three-year period of time is inadequate."

Specifically, longer superintendent tenure has a positive effect on student achievement, according to research by McREL, a nonprofit research group based in Denver. It found a positive correlation between longevity and academic achievement. District leaders who focus on the right goals, manage change effectively and stick around long enough to see results tend to have higher-performing students. "Tenure absolutely matters," says Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, a training center funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation that prepares successful American leaders to run urban school districts and improve student achievement. The center has trained Abelardo Saavedra, who was the superintendent of the Houston Independent School District from 2004 to 2009, and John Deasy, who takes over as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District this month".

Any bets on CMS' next Superintendent Churn Choice? Hey, at least The Gormanator lasted 5 years - a record. Gold star to anyone who can name the five school board members representing District 6 since 2005 or the number of revolving door principals and assistant principals at Endhaven Elementary since the school opened in 2006.

Stability. What a concept.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Education needs to be brought back to a local level (Local schools, with local school boards and local teachers and principals.) The best schools in our country are small town schools. Principals should decide who works and does not work in their school. There should be a reasonable process to fire underperforming teachers like any company would have. Teachers should be given the flexibility to teach and teach only. Coaching, clubs, lunch duties, parking lot duties, bureaucratic paper work and all the non essential responsibilities pushed on to teachers should be off the table. Students that are disruptive should be removed. Principals should run the school and teachers should teach. I should not see my son’s football coach whom is also teacher driving the bus to an away game.
The last thing CMS needs is to pay millions of dollars on a study to see if we need an HR department.

Most teachers would agree to this.

Anonymous said...

11:34
Yes and no. CMS is a unique mixture of suburban and urban schools. "Urban" Ballantyne is a little different than "urban" D.C.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Alicia,
McRel may say it's non profit but I don't believe they gave the teacher evaluation software to CMS for free.
On another dubious CMS/DPI software note, NC Wise evidently breathed its last breath recently. On to more and varied dysfunctional attempts to hinder grading and record keeping.

Anonymous said...

Alicia,

One of my early concerns with Heath Morrison was that he created comprehensive plan of change for the Reno school system and then left for Charlotte half way through.

The defining difference between teachers and top school administrators (Area Superintendents, etc. not Principals and Asst. Principals)is that teachers are not seeking to continually improve their position and employment prospects, they have achieved what they want to do which is work directly with students. Most teachers don't view becoming an administrator as a promotion. People like Morrison, Gorman and Kowal is that their looking for the next opportunity for their own career advancement and not the community in which they serve.

Wiley Coyote said...

10:17

We don't have to expell. It's all about what is acceptable and what is not. It's time to start cutting the cord.

Public education will continue its downward spiral until we decide we're not going to take it anymore.

It can change. Whether politicians have the stomach for it is another matter.

All you have to do is look at the ridiculous state of immigration in the US.

It's all about placating a base.

Wiley Coyote said...

Bolyn,

You are correct in that CMS needs to know it's consumer.

The problem is they don't because the USDA won't allow it..

Anonymous said...

Lack of stability--that was the one thing that amazed me the most when we moved to Charlotte in the 90's. Having taught and having had students in several different school districts across the country before coming here I had always assumed that everyone valued having neighborhoods strongly attached to their schools and the school personnel (and vice versa). The principal and teacher turnover rate here (not to mention frequent student reassignments) was totally unexpected--we had never experienced anything like it before. But then again we had always been in small to moderate size school systems where no one (including the local press) was trying to gain national attention for solving an unsolvable problem. Guess which systems were getting better results?

Anonymous said...

NY has very nice areas. DC, well we all know that the feds would not send their kids to public schools. There is a variety of large urban school district that CMS beats out year after year. Many of CMS high poverty schools do very well and some of our Suburban schools are blue ribbon schools which rank them as some of the best in the country. I do not agree with county schools but as far as CMS goes, it is one of the best in the country in spite of who the supper attendant is. In spite of Caroliniancan or whatever outside group sticks their nose in, in spite of the reform policy of the month and in spite of the political leader ship and the lemons in Raleigh. I believe the teachers that live in our communities, raise their children here and become true stake holder are the reason. I have lived here a long time and seen people like Gorman and out of state advocacy groups come and go. The teacher who live and die here and the children they help are what counts.

Anonymous said...

Thought I would leave a comment concerning the report this blog is actually about...why does CMS not consider the NC Principal Fellows program as a "preparation pathway?" If this plan for a pipeline is so good, why has another program at UNCC featuring former CMS admin just popped up this summer? Can we get numbers on how many people have applied/been accepted into the pools and then actually been placed in schools. My suspicion is that for all of this Wallace Foundation "science," people still receive positions for who they know, not the data that this process provides the executives.

Anonymous said...

Hey listen folks I am a white tax payer so free breakfast and lunch for all ! Except for my own kids who I refuse them to take a hand out since they dont need it ! CMS is teaching the wrong message put that hand out LIFT/Lunch/Breakfast/AFter school care to kids. It sets them up for future living off the system that I fund.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert on NYC public schools but NYC does have a few nationally ranked public schools that are top in the country and highly competitive to get into. For example; the Bronx High School of Science. There is also a performing arts high school that's famous - as in FAME.

To my knowledge, CMS does't have any schools that rank nationally as being one of the best. I'm not knocking the quality of education plenty of students receive in CMS I just question the validity of "urban" rankings across school systems and states. What do we really mean when we say "urban"?

Alicia

Anonymous said...

1:57
I understand what you are saying but do CMS high-poverty schools that are doing "very well" do well consistently? Are they doing well enough to complete against some of America's best public and private schools, or, are they merely doing better than other "urban" high-poverty schools that really aren't living up to the same standards set elsewhere?

There are rural Title 1 schools in NC that outperform CMS suburban schools.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that American students consistently outperform other countries in international science and math competitions. American colleges are still considered the best in the world with a steadily growing international population.

America's educational system isn't failing it's just failing certain populations of students.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

I'm at a high performing large high school in the district. Have had great evaluations my whole time here as the Dean of Students. For those who don't know, that just means you do the job of an AP but you earn the pay of a teacher. I walk into my end of year evaluation this year and got blindsided. On paper, I'm still really good. My composite comes out to 4.4 out of 5.0 in how I get scored. However, verbally I was told I wasn't ready to become an AP and I certainly wouldn't be one at my school. Then I get told my school would get 2 more AP spots for the next year, and I would interview for them. Oh, and since we would now have 4 APs next year, my position wouldn't be brought back. How's that for an end of the year evaluation!

The great thing? That was done with 2 months left in the year. So, yes, I interviewed for the job I knew I wouldn't get, only to be told, no, you aren't getting it. This summer, I'm applying all ove the place and getting a few calls here and there, but very few. Of course, my principal said I shouldn't worry because they would call around and help me get an admin job for next year. That hasn't happened yet....

So, what happens to me next year? HR for CMS, in their infinite wisdom has me teaching next year, which is better than nothing. However, they placed me back in the same school I just got treated like this by. I don't get any say. How is that even fair or right? If the Observer cares about this story, comment somehow. I will reach out to you. I have proof of everything I have written here.

Anonymous said...

Some of us are just not good enough for CMS's high standards for principals.

Anonymous said...

MOrrison

Pay teachers a higher salary and bring back their benefits!

Common Goal for a Common Core

Anonymous said...

My kids went to one of the schools in the Ballantyne area last year. There was a great teacher there--new, from the north, very enthusiastic--who left after one year to go back north and start a business. According to a friend of his, he left because the principal leadership was incompetent. The principal there broke several rules and laws yet was never cited--yet he and his facilitators went after teachers who they didn't like. I bet he makes way more in his new job than he would have at CMS, too.