The Principle Battle For Principals

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 21, 2005
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Once upon a time, the fairy tale land of Eod was ruled by a king and a queen. They divided the kingdom into fiefdoms that were overseen by the nobles. The nobles received their orders from the king and queen and implemented these directives to everyone in the land.

There were several levels of nobles. There were also factions such as the bourgeoisie, the proletariats and wizards who wanted their voice heard in creating the laws of the land. Dragons sometimes wreaked havoc in the kingdom. For entertainment, court jesters imposed their humor onto the ruling parties. As long as everyone understood and abided by the rules, peace and harmony prevailed.

But alas, life is not a fairy tale and neither is our public education system, although one could use the analogy of the fairy tale kingdom of Eod and relate it to the real world of the Department of Education (DOE). The federal government is similar to the ranks of kings and queens. Each school district is a fiefdom run by multi-levels of nobles. The nobles who run the schools are called principals.

Principals have a difficult job. They must gather all the facts and information regarding educational rules and mandates, maintain the decrees of the governing parties and be accountable to various factions within, and outside of The DOE kingdom. There are also court jesters, such as, but not limited to the legislators and the members of the Board of Education (BOE), who create humor by establishing mandates that principals must implement.

Adding to the principals’ burden are the magical directives conjured up by the wizards in the state office. Some of these wizards are very far removed and unaware of what is actually happening in the schools, but insist on establishing policies anyway.

The reality is, principals must balance and prioritize educational issues for all students, without showing preferential treatment. They need to listen to teachers, school staff, parents and other interested individuals who have a stake in the education system. They must maintain a budget and abide by, and implement, the laws of the land, such as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Chapter 56, and other educational decrees. Principals must perform all of these duties and more, and still try to maintain peace and harmony so that everyone can live happily ever after.

The point is, why would anyone want to be a principal? It’s a job fraught with slaying dragons, implementing the orders of the ruling parties, keeping the loyal subjects satisfied and happy, and trying to maintain some semblance of order.

But our valiant principals assume these responsibilities every day. Principals are dedicated to the principles of providing a quality education system to students. They know that they are the principal persons responsible for the operation of their schools. Demands, some realistic and some unrealistic, will be placed on them on a daily basis and they must be equal to the tasks.

It was announced last week that the number of public schools needing restructuring this time around will double, from 24 schools to 56 schools.

Not such a fairy tale job.

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