Principal Preparation Program.

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Try and say Principal Preparation Program fast 3 times (I will wait while you complete this task…).

This blog is not just a tongue twister.  It goes way deeper than that.  It’s also a well-thought out review of a new Illinois Law called the School Leader Reform Act.

Actually, that’s a lie.Be Careful... You Don't Want to Crash on the First Day.

The blog is actually a thrown together half-baked commentary on what is wrong with the programs that supposedly prepare school administrators to lead their teachers and students.

The School Leader Reform Act is an attempt by the untrustworthy crooked politicians of Illinois to fix the way principals are selected and trained.

I’m okay with that.

The article from which I stole this blog says the two most important factors that influence student success are quality teaching and quality school leadership.

Fair enough.

I say let’s get rid of tenure and work on improving principals.

What?

The crooked politicians won’t address tenure?

Okay, color me not surprised (after all, the next election is always just around the corner… and the next one… and so on… and on…).

Then let’s fix the principals (like they are all broken).

The new law wants to prepare principals to be instructional leaders.  Great idea.

It also wants colleges to make their school administration programs to be more challenging.  As opposed to revenue sources for their education departments.  Again, great idea.

Another aspect of the law is to allow an alternative pathway to principal endorsement through nonprofit entities.  Okay, this might just work.   As always, there is more than one way to skin a cat (although why you would want to I’ll never know).

Let’s start cranking out new and improved principals.

With that being said, I do have a couple of concerns with the law.

One is they want each principal candidate to participate in a month long residency program.  My complaint… a month isn’t long enough.

But neither is a year or five years.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, completely prepares you to be a school principal.

The closest thing might be Marine boot camp, but that’s about it.

Admittedly, a month is better than nothing… but not by much.

The other thing that bothers me is the law requires that no more than one-third of coursework in a preparation program can be taught by part-time adjunct faculty.

I think this is idiotic.

I know the politicians want full-time faculty members to be teaching the courses, but I think it should be just the opposite.

Most (if not all) courses should be taught by practicing principals and superintendents.

Or at the very least retirees who have worked in administration within the last 5 years.

I can make the argument that I can learn more from a well-versed administrator in an hour than I can from a professor in a classroom in a semester (no offense professors).

But at least the politicians seem to be heading in the right direction.

Which is nice.

And unusual for Illinois.

I wonder when they will pass a law call Political Leader Reform Act?

Now that’s legislation I could really support.

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5 Responses to “Principal Preparation Program.”


  1. Melanie
    on Jun 13th, 2010
    @ 7:06 pm

    Being from Illinois, I completely concur with all you’ve said. I will even ashamedly admit I voted for Blagojavich, but I honestly thought nothing could be worse than the crook who was already in office and running again. Obviously the world proved me wrong. I have seen a decided lack of ability in principals in recent years. I would argue that the problem is what my dad terms “promoting beyond ones competency”. People who make good teachers, don’t always make good principals. The skill set is different. A principal needs to be a manager of people, a PR professional, and a pretty good counselor. Sometimes these coalesce in a teacher, sometimes not. The best principals are the ones who never wanted to be a principal, but who got tired of waiting for a decent one to show up (at least in my experience). I also agree that a Political Leader Reform act would be ideal…starting with, if you want to be a politician, you can’t!


  2. Christy
    on Jun 13th, 2010
    @ 8:10 pm

    I hope this bill works out for you guys. I agree with all the things you said, and you are certainly in the position to know what you are talking about. I haven’t been teaching very long (8 years) but in the 5 years I worked at my school in Texas I had 12 different vice-principals. I am currently up to 22 principals and vice-principals in 8 years of teaching at 2 different high schools, so I have seen a few. =) I think it is a rough job, and I will be the first to admit that I am completely unqualified to do it. I know that and I never intend to become a principal because I would be really bad at it. I currently have a really fantastic principal that I like working for but I have worked with people who became principals because it was the “next step” or because they didn’t want to be in the classroom anymore (after 4 years) or because they would make more money. They have been unanimously unsuccessful.


  3. Joseph Levno
    on Jun 14th, 2010
    @ 3:56 am

    I’m an Assistant Principal going into my 3rd year. I’m also in a Principal Prep Program (almost done, actually). I totally agree with the adjunct professor perspective. When you’re in the trenches, you want someone mentoring you who is either in there with you or hasn’t been away for long. No offense against professors (finishing up a second master’s I’ve had a few – great ones, good/ok and pretty bad), in general I think the worst educators are full-time university professors. The most innovative educators are those ones in the trenches, slugging it out day after day and really making a difference!


  4. Pamela
    on Jun 15th, 2010
    @ 9:37 pm

    “Long time reader, first time commenting….”

    YES the profs need to be practicing.

    My credential program (finished 4 years ago was half tenured professor and half practicing teacher professor.

    Guess who taught me what I needed to know, and what would help me, and gave me the kind of advice I needed to weed through school politics? Guess whose teachings were in my head when really crazy stuff happened in my classroom and I needed to get a handle on it STAT? Not one tenured prof did I learn anything from, sadly. I can only imagine that with principals it’s the same way. And as a teacher, I want to work for a principal who was taught and guided and advised by someone who had been in the trenches, too.

    I understand the importance of tenured vs. adjunct professors, plenty of my friends are professors and academia is a hard place to be, esp. with budget cuts, and coming from the land of the liberal, tenure is important to being able to speak your mind and change the game. But public education is not the place to play that game.

    I thought being an substitute or intern was hard, teaching and then going to class and doing homework, I can only imagine how those teacher/professors did it. But they did, and their preparation told me that it could be mine someday. Their planning was so detailed, they didn’t change the syllabus or assignments along the way, they had rubrics in the syllabus itself, they knew exactly what they wanted from us and no question was dumb. They were not only dynamic and engaging in the classroom, they were the models of the teachers they were teaching us to be in all aspects.


  5. Lyn
    on Jul 6th, 2010
    @ 6:26 am

    The most meaningful courses I had in my principalship work were taught by practicing principals and superintendents.
    Hands down.
    Nothing can prepare you for this job except living it, that’s my take on it!

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.