Appreciations to our colleague Elena Aguilar for her article in Ed Week on appreciating principals in hard times. She paints a grim yet inspiring picture of the challenges of urban principals in an era of de-funding education and deep recession.
She notes that with the anticipated coming budget cuts, classrooms will be stripped to the bare necessities.
But what are “bare necessities?” At Melrose Leadership Academy (MLA) in east Oakland, Principal Moyra Contreras is realizing a life-long dream by leading a Spanish dual-immersion school. For next year, MLA needs 40 kid-size chairs, but Ms. Contreras has no funding for this. Recently, she described daily visits to the district’s warehouse where she scavenges for old chairs. “The Ed Code doesn’t say that kids must have chairs,” Ms. Contreras said sardonically. And so, the principal will be creative: she has a brilliant (but time-consuming) plan to fundraise for chairs.
Elena notes that principals are under severe pressures, they don’t have the much criticized ‘tenure’ that teachers do. They are often summarily fired when the school does not reach test targets. She offers a few suggestions to teachers (or others) for supporting principals during such times.
- Focus on their strengths, and let them know what they are
- Hold a Principal Appreciation Day
- Be compassionate, try to get past the divisive culture that is so common in schools today
The full article can be read here (free access temporarily compliments of ASCD).