Monday, February 7, 2011

You Get What You Pay For

The New York Times reports today that despite all the efforts towards "accountability", many schools are struggling to replace "failing" principals.  Of low performing schools in states that agreed to enforce strict sanctions for a chance at some of Race to the Top's $4 Billion in grants, nearly half have found ways to keep their principals on board.  Apparently finding talented individuals willing to work in troubled schools is harder than was expected.

From the article:
Because leading schools out of chronic failure is harder than managing a successful school — often requiring more creative problem-solving abilities and stronger leadership, among other skills — the supply of principals capable of doing the work is tiny.
You think?  And we're only talking about principals.  What about all the so-called failing "teachers"?  Given the average poor school might have more than 20 teachers,  finding replacements would be that much more difficult.

Of course, the assumption is completely flawed.  As the article rightfully notes, working at a poor school is more difficult.  Add to this the enormous expectations being placed on an already over-burdened and under-appreciated staff, and ask yourself who in their right mind would feel attracted to such a position?  The list of those of us willing to accept that offer is surely shortening fast.

Maybe the real question is why we should expect to be able to ask so much more of these workers in the first place?  We either need to pay them much, much more, or provide the proper support to begin with, so the job will be actually possible with an average employee. 

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