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The need for "leadership" is ambiguous in either system. What are the quantifiable components? Is leadership located where you THINK it is?
The necessary components of the jobsite need desperately to be narrowed in many cases. The things required by society of a school need desperately to be reduced. Principals need desperately to admit they have too much on their plates.
I have previously remarked that actual leadership is invested several layers above the principal in some cases. Principals behave as if they are in charge to maintain social position but are as managed as their teachers. In the case of Florida, the Legislature has taken charge of the enterprise and school boards have no choice but to comply. In Minnesota, leadership has remained local.
So is another rule necessary? I don't think so. The problem is structural. When we encounter a disaster, we create more rules to insulate us from consequences even though incidents will continue to happen. The rules stay put and create a sedimentary formation that limits flexibility.
I agree with David. While I definitely believe that the most important role of a principal is as instructional leader, a principal should also have some ability to manage finances effectively. Requiring a separate MBA seems excessive, but why not incorporate more appropriate financial and management training into existing programs?
Principals should be experts in curriculum, social and emotional learning,child and adolescent mental health, outreach to families, human relations, project based learning, positive behavioral interventions and supports and other areas that apply directly to the development of the whole child towards a healthy successful future. Principals should be strong collaborative problem solvers and team leaders for staff. Superintendents should be MBAs, since it is their job to run the business of the district.
Making an MBA compulsory would mean that Principals would be biased towards business models. What is needed are educational leaders, with in-depth knowledge in pedagogy, the use of technology in supporting education and in leadership theory and practice. IF an MBA person is required, then they should be UNDER the authority of an educational leader. What we DO NOT NEED are more business models applied to education; this is part of the reason why education is in such a mess in the developed world and grossly underfunded!
Leading teachers and students is significantly different from making and selling widgets. Administrators need to continue teaching, and not remove themselves further from the realities of being in the classroom and interacting on a daily basis with the students. Applying business theory to the teaching of students does not work. It is this skewed concept that resulted in the nightmare of one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter curriculum, Race To the Top and NCLB. It is this mindset that causes people far removed from the classrooms to declare that 100% of U.S. students will be proficient in Math and Reading by 2014 or schools will be labeled as "failing", funding will be cut, teachers will be fired, and schools will be shut down. It is this thinking that assumes that educational value can be statistically measured, and it is this thinking that has reduced once innovative classroom experiences to multiple-choice bubble-testing as top priority, pushing music, the arts, Advanced Placement courses, and physical education off to the side, impacting an increase in the dropout rate, as well as holding back and frustrating both our brightest students as well as those who struggle. Students are not widgets. As long as quality materials are used, and standards are followed, quality widgets come off of the assembly line. Once again -- students are not widgets . . . nor should we want them to be.
Principals are supposed to be the educational leader in their buildings, guiding teachers in the study of data as it applies to their students. They are also the primary resource allocators (at the building level) and as such shouhld be able to effectively allocate those scarce resources available to non-Title 1 schools. When I principal is an ineffective resource allocator, their building and hence the students, suffer.
The United States has this undying hero worship for all things business, as if those who can run a business can walk on water. Schools are not businesses, and those who think they are obviously have not spent any time in schools lately. What administrators need more than anything is a complete understanding of teaching and learning. They need to be experienced teachers who know what it's like to stand in from classrooms. An MBA might give some useful added perspective to the job of principal, but they also need to have experience teaching too.
As someone who is going through an educational leadership degree program, and researched many of them, I feel that they are lacking in management, leadership, and basic business skills. I was an engineer in my previous life and managed a varied of people and projects. I took management courses to gain the necessary skills for my job.
Now, after being in education for 10 years and working with different administrators in education, I believe that educational leadership programs need management skills in them. Business skills are also important. Let's be realistic, administrators spend most of their time managing, not educating. They need to understand how to manage employees, deal with conflicts, coach employees, manage projects, set and work with a budget, and much more that are management/business, not educational skills.
I've seen so many educational "leaders" who lack basic leadership and management skills and training. We need to add these into their training programs.
MBAs would be great for most principals and some of the good and bad ones have them. What I would like to see is a requirement for them to return to the classroom for two years for every ten years out of the classroom. Many principals have fallen out of touch with the classroom and need to be refreshed.
I speak from experience. After working as a staff development trainer in technology for 9 years I felt I had become too insistent with my staff, so to put my theory to test I returned to the first grade classroom for 1 year. Yes, I was uniquely able to integrate technology into the classroom and the kids didn't suffer. I shared my techniques with my grade level team and helped them see what I was preaching as a technology trainer was more than possible. We changed the way we taught and led the District in reading fluency and comprehension. My peers thanked me for showing them how to get more done in less time. They even tried to nominate me for teacher of the year.
Yes, I loved going back to the classroom. It gave me a renewed perspective after 22 years in education. Now I'm back in technology and no longer hear from teachers saying I don't know what it's like to be a teacher. They listen a little more to what I have to say because I am not so far removed from their situation. Now they come to me with their problems asking me to speak to the principal on their behalf. My job is much easier today because I am one of them.
Yes, an MBA would be good, but when was the last time you heard your peers say the principal is one of us?
Harvard combined theri effortys between the business school and eduication college. The Unviersity of Virgina is doing the same and sees a need for full development of a principal. However, leadership from the central office level is in just as much need. Check out the PELP framework. The more coherence (understanding) that leaders create around why and what we do in schools that make a difference, the more commitment and high performance will result.