Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Study: Get more creative in recruiting principals

Urban school districts aren't doing enough to recruit and pay great school leaders,  according to a new study by the Thomas Fordham Institute titled  "Lacking Leaders:  The Challenges of Principal Recruitment,  Selection and Placement."

The DC-based education research and advocacy group  (funded by the usual list of reform philanthropies) studied five urban districts that have been working to improve their principal processes.  I was guessing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools might be among them,  especially since the institute teamed up with Public Impact of Chapel Hill, which has worked with CMS.  But the descriptions of districts,  which are given pseudonyms such as Reformville and Urbanopolis as part of an anonymity agreement to ensure candor,  don't match.

Still,  the issues loom large here as the summer leadership churn cranks up.  "Leaders must deal with everything from overstretched budgets to mediocre teachers to unruly (and potentially dangerous) students, not to mention heavy pressure to boost academic results (without, of course, 'teaching to the test,' much less engaging in even more dubious practices),"  the report says.  They get little autonomy,  often make little more than classroom teachers and face grueling accountability demands,  it continues.

The researchers conclude that the five districts,  which they describe as pioneers,  are too quick hire from within,  rather than making an energetic and systemic search for the best candidates from other districts and sectors.  Some officials told researchers they'd had limited success with finding outsiders who understand the local culture and stick around,  while others said tapping outsiders over assistant principals in the district hurts morale.

The Fordham Institute and the Broad Foundation issued a 2003  "manifesto"  urging districts to look for noneducators with strong leadership skills.  The latest report also pushes the idea that a strong corporate leader could make a great principal,  so long as there's an instructional expert on the administrative team.

"We acknowledge that private firms do not face the same licensure constraints as school districts, so cross-sector recruitment in public education is apt to be harder" than in corporate hiring,  the report says. "But policymakers could change those licensure rules. And the takeaway is the same: great leaders can succeed across sectors."

I don't think I've seen CMS recruit a principal from outside education,  and the district had some setbacks with a couple of HR directors hired from corporate America.  Superintendent Heath Morrision does seems to be searching outside CMS for principals:  A scan of announcements this spring and summer shows seven from within CMS,  three from adjacent districts and one from Tennessee.

The report also calls for compensation that's more in line with corporate pay,  turning principalships into  "phenomenal job opportunities."

"Districts should also see the principal’s job as the year-round position that it is and treat  —  and 
compensate  —  it more like the executive role that it’s become,"  the report says.  "Too costly, you say? Think of it this way: the United States employs roughly 100,000 principals. If we gave each of them a $100,000 raise, the total price tag would amount to $10 billion—obviously not chump change. But that’s less than 2 percent of the K–12 public school budget—and $5 billion less than the total new cost estimated to fund President Obama’s pre-K plan."

Update: The Wallace Foundation,  which has been working with CMS on its  "principal pipeline"  since 2011,  announced today that it will provide additional money to support principal supervisors in hopes of developing a larger corps of strong principals.

37 comments:

Pamela Grundy said...

Sounds like more top-down businesspeak nonsense to me. A principal's most important task is to build a strong and stable staff under extremely difficult conditions, especially at high-poverty schools. This requires extraordinary people skills, something to which CMS has not given nearly enough attention in this era of "urgency," and "principal as instructional leader." While principals might have a lot to learn from people-skills-savvy businesses, bringing in people not versed in education at dramatically higher salaries is a recipe for disaster. Keep the money in pre-K, where it will do more good than harm.

Anonymous said...

Tapping very young principals and assistant principals hurts teacher morale.

Age=experience.

That would be an interesting news story.

How old and how much teaching experience do principals and assistant principals have?

Wiley Coyote said...

And so long as a district offers a principal salary that is competitive with the principal salaries in surrounding districts, that district may be able to poach a high-flying principal from another school system.

This report is all over the place.

It all boils down to what the main point always made in an education study. Money.

From the CMS salary database I've looked at, principals do quite well in the salary column.

Top 10 CMS elementary principal salaries:

$143,310.81
$118,052.71
$117,671.46
$117,087.23
$113,322.60
$112,413.82
$112,394.74
$111,319.64
$109,394.44
$107,188.41

Top 10 high school principal salaries:

$165,558.15
$157,326.25
$155,763.97
$148,677.27
$134,043.47
$127,525.06
$125,273.76
$125,085.01
$124,227.03
$122,216.47

...and you want to add $100K to those?

Need more money? Scrap all useless pre-K programs that don't work, especially Head Start.

There. you've now freed up an $8 BILLION dollar per year funding source ($180 BILLION since inception).

Anonymous said...

ironically CMS just hired two amazing principals out of Cabarrus county. Mr. Kevin Garay just left A.L. Brown to be the principal at Mallard Creek, and the current NC principal of the year, just left Central Cabarrus to be the principal at North Meck. I was sorry to see Mr. Garay leave, he is a great principal, Mallard Creek should benefit from his leadership.

Anonymous said...

Way back in the days before desegregation, principals in black and white communities were considered leaders and pillars of the community. Now the model is TFA or two years in the classroom and you're a "Dean of Students." There are a few principals in CMS left that survived the Gorman/Avossa purge
that continue to excel but all are still harassed mercilessly by the usual suspects uptown. Many of the career CMS folks, parents, and students will always remember Northwest and won't forget, ever.

Anonymous said...

My principal talks to me as if I am a 2 year old. They spent at most 5 years in the classroom.

There is no way they deserve 3X my salary now, much less a $100,000 raise.

Look at the top paid principals in CMS. Are they worth 3 to 5 frontline teachers ?

Anonymous said...

"funded by the usual suspects".

Love it!

Alicia

Anonymous said...

The process to fill an opening several years ago resulted in the least qualified candidate being selected. More must be done to bring fresh new talent into the district, rather then simply picking someone familiar to the district.

Wiley Coyote said...

Alicia,

...And so long as a district offers a principal salary that is competitive with the principal salaries in surrounding districts, that district may be able to poach a high-flying principal from another school system.

NC has laws against poaching.

Anonymous said...

The Fordham Institute and the Broad Foundation issued a 2003 "manifesto" urging districts to look for noneducators with strong leadership skills. The latest report also pushes the idea that a strong corporate leader could make a great principal, so long as there's an instructional expert on the administrative team.

"We acknowledge that private firms do not face the same licensure constraints as school districts, so cross-sector recruitment in public education is apt to be harder" than in corporate hiring, the report says. "But policymakers could change those licensure rules. And the takeaway is the same: great leaders can succeed across sectors."

Well, I suppose we can all take a lesson from Michelle Rhee's successful Chancellorship.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Wiley nailed it in this instance. CMS recently identified two principals in neighboring school districts (one of them from our local high school, A.L Brown) and went after them by offering each of them a substantial pay increases.

Anonymous said...

our CMS principal spent one year in kindergarten, was a bad teacher and is a mediocre principal. Our staff can run circles around him.

Anonymous said...

Principals are MOrrisons frontline BULLIES

They deserver a 100,000 raise. Just another "MARKET ADJUSTMENT" for those who deserve it the LEAST.

Anonymous said...

Give the money to the ones who earn it - The TEACHERS!

Charles said...

When will more CMS principal changes be announced?

Anonymous said...

What a crock! This is just more "reform" that turns schools into a another version of corporate hell: pay a "leader" a ton of money while the people who do the real work get a pittance. There are some great principals out there but truly, if they all vanished in some warped form of the Rapture, I guarantee that the schools would get along fine without them.

Anonymous said...

What a crock! This is just more "reform" that turns schools into a another version of corporate hell: pay a "leader" a ton of money while the people who do the real work get a pittance. There are some great principals out there but truly, if they all vanished in some warped form of the Rapture, I guarantee that the schools would get along fine without them.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Charles, probably tonight. Admin appointments are on the school board agenda.

Anonymous said...

Reformville. Seems a rather odd choice of fictitious names since I remember when there were reform schools. I am betting that is Charlotte.

Ann Doss Helms said...

3:06, I might have thought that too. But they list Reformville as having 101-150 schools (CMS has 160) and poverty level of 77 percent (CMS is around 53 percent). All the districts have higher FRL percentages than CMS, and none match the number of schools.

Anonymous said...

The politics involved in becoming a principal are pathetic. Too often "favored" preparation programs funded by outside groups with a definite political agenda hold sway regarding who is promoted. More often than not these "princi-fools" base their school decisions on a political agenda and favor those teachers who parrot the preferred "program." For example, do you really think the "teacher of the year" are the best teachers in the district or are they reflective of the "flavor of the day?" How accurately do you really think graduation rates reflect actual student achievement? Which principals actually have the courage to hold students accountable for their actions when the superintendent's retention and bonus rely upon cohort graduation rates and suspension rates? I have seen too many worthy candidates for school principal "passed over" because they actually believe in student achievement and accountability on all levels. They remain "whipping boy" APs for the political hack "princi-fools."

The only ones held accountable for student achievement by the "princi-fools" are the teachers. The students know that they will be passed no matter what they do. I had a high school student this past year whose reading level was officially tested at the 4th grade level and yet "placed" in the 11th grade with a mandatory state MSL (no exemptions or mediations). You will never see Helms even address these issues or she knows she will be "shut out" of the system she supposedly reports on.

Sincerely,
A teacher with 16 years of real classroom experience

Wiley Coyote said...

I had a high school student this past year whose reading level was officially tested at the 4th grade level and yet "placed" in the 11th grade with a mandatory state MSL (no exemptions or mediations).

....if only they had been in pre-K.

Or were they?

Like the lost IRS emails, we have no data for Bright Beginnings or WHY a kid made it to the 11th grade with a 4th grade reading level....

Thank you for a very eye opening, honest assessment.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, one of the two recent hires from Cabarrus County will be in the list of top 10 paid principals in CMS, she will be number behind the $143K

per the Independent Tribune
"At North Mecklenburg, Rhymer will be paid $123,000 a year"

and once more, odds are, if her history is any indication, she won't stay more than 4 years at North meck before she moves on yet again for an even larger paycheck.

Anonymous said...

3:17 you speak the truth, thank you.

I have brought several issues to CMS Admin and even CMPD, but both parties don't want negative news about the school system getting out to the public. What a shame, or sham.

Anonymous said...

And I imagine that the 11th grader with a 4th grade reading level will be expected to take at least one AP course before he "graduates". Isn't that the theory--that everyone is capable of doing the work and it would be inequitable and unjust not to allow this student the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone can answer this question. The DPI top State Salary for a principal with 46+ years experience and a staff of 101+ teachers is $107,328. So..um...how is it that there IS money for Principals but NOT teachers. Where is THIS extra money coming from in CMS to pay these VERY HIGH salaries IF the state has a CAP? I say do away with the Principals altogether and pay the Financial Sec'y and Registrar more as THEY are the real "managers" of the school.

Anonymous said...

Pay principals more!! Your nuts!! Their not even real decision makers in CMS.. Everyone knows the decisions are made down town. If all the administration and people downtown where raptured up to heaven, schools would probably do better. Most people wouldn't even notice.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,

The reason the positive effects of Pre-K and Head Start "vanish" by the end of third grade is probably because the out-of-school factors that cause the child to fall behind stay with the child well after the third grade.

Take our schools back said...

The sad part is most of this grew out of the court decision to make CMS stop discriminating against all students. With that, it became vividly apparent that CMS could only shuffle kids around by their skin color. So now the weakness in public education was exposed for the world to see except the world already knew it. Only the ego centered uptown leaders thought it was only Charlotte's problem and thus felt they needed to go even more out of the way to make the lives of the minorities even easier by just passing out diplomas.

Even the judge in the Kansas City schools case admitted the high school years were a waste for the minorities.

So the uptown power brokers keep putting pressure on CMS to do more and more and more for these students. So the disease continues to infect more and more children of excusing the family units from their responsibility to raise these children. More summer and weekend meal programs (even though the family unit gets monetary assistance but no accountability to spend it like it was intended)! More falsifying FRL applications! More falsifying special needs classifications! More pressure to stop removing uncivilized students from the classrooms! (To heck with the right of education of the other students). More Pre-K (babysitting services)! And on and on. Where will it end? It will not! There is never enough that can be done for them!

Anonymous said...

While I commend Dr. Morrison for his willingness to hire from within, there are several things that are wrong with this picture on many levels. Why do we continue to promote people that have no real investment in our students and schools and are merely on the "fast track" to their next promotion? I agree with one of the posts that comments on how most principals in CMS are political appointments. For Dr. Morrison to state and even think that he is getting the "best" and the "brightest" is a sham and an insult to everyone that knows better! CMS has created a "pool" process that is highly questionable because it is being used as a means to keep the best and the brightest OUT of the school system and the schools where they can truly make a difference! CMS has people in this district and sitting principals in other districts that have had successful records in terms of turning low achieving schools around for multiple years that can NOT get into the so-called "pool" even though they have being doing the job successfully for several years! CMS always promotes DATA and what impact a person has on student achievement but I would like to know how these 9 people, 7 of whom have been AP's for a total of 2 years have made an impact on student achievement? If they have it is very minimal! Check the data of the schools that they came from. Dr. Morrison, please wake up! You are not getting what you think you are; you are getting someone's friend or associate. Whatever happened to getting a promotion based on your merit and not someone's inside recommendation. CMS will NEVER be as GREAT as it could be because we are still practicing "It's not what you know, but who you know..." SAD!

Ann Doss Helms said...

Well, this was timely given Tuesday night's barrage of appointments (six inside, three outside): http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/06/24/5001925/cms-names-nine-new-principals.html#.U6ogTfldUbI

Anonymous said...

Ann, seriously, HOW are the salaries determined? The STATE has a base BUT CMS is waaaaay over that? Where is this "Special fund" and from what budget does it come? If not Ann, ANYONE?

Anonymous said...

anon 8:41,
I would debate one point with you, the new principal for Mallard Creek has a solid record for improving a high school. I do not wish to give him all of the credit, however the fact is, A.L Brown High School went from a dismal 62% graduation rate to over 85% during his tenure. He also played a key role in the implementation of many new programs. But again, he he played a role, he did not do this on his own and it would be wrong to diminish the role played by others. Now regarding the new principlal for North Meck, probably not a good hire, she will likely be a poor fit for North Meck. She was the former principal at Northwest and Central Cabarrus, neither school is anything like North Meck. She is the current principal of the year, so CMS went for the sexy hire, but if her recent history is any indication, she won't be at North Meck long. I would expect her to move up he ranks in CMS in a few short years, a BIGGER check!

Anonymous said...

I apologize for the typo.....been doing the job successfully for several years.......you get the point I am sure!! CMS must change the way they do business and they can start by being "above board"! Stop political appointments NOW!

Anonymous said...

I can see why so many on this blog are so upset with CMS. Apparently CMS is not really concerned with education, but more focused on expanding admin. Thom Tillis has a point, CMS wastes a ton of money. Once more, CMS is NOT producing results for all of the money spent. I say the state and county should cut the school budget for CMS! our system is incredibly bloated and is wasteful. If you have the money to pay insane principal salaries, then our budget is bloated!

perhaps Larry was right after all, time to put a charter on every corner and shut down CMS! Perhaps it is time to give the tax payers a break in this state!

Bobcat said...

7:12am You would be correct. The process of selecting new principals is a joke, and it has not gone unnoticed by the teachers, especially the veterans.

Anonymous said...

Ann

Can you post the actual classroom teaching experience of principals within CMS ? I am sure the stat is relevant. Gorman could not even teach a class within CMS because he didnt have a liscense. Does the current leader Morrison have a valid teaching liscense in NC ? These are questions that taxpayers need to know.

The informed mind needs to know !