Turn Around Failing Schools By Placing Top Principals In ChargeBy Diana Wehrell-Grabowski on October 17, 2010 in What Makes A Great Teacher?
The Obama administration has given $3.5 billion to transform the nation’s 5000 worst schools. States that have received Race To The Top funds will have to implement pre-approved strategies to help turn around their failing schools. A very evident factor of a successful school is that its administration must be great leaders. In many cases inexperienced individuals are placed in failing schools, because no one else applies for the position to lead a failing school. Peter Gorman, the school superintendent in Charlotte, N.C., decided to implement a new strategy several years ago, and that was to hold an annual competition( Strategic Staffing Initiative). The competition would identify the most effective principals in the district. These principals would then be giving the opportunity to turn around one of the district’s failing schools. They would be placed at the school for three years, receive a 10% raise, more freedom from district rules. They would also get to select an eight-person transformation team, they would get a raise as well. The winning principals could also “transfer out” up to five teachers from their new school, including under performers, obstructionists, etc.. Gorman “expects the new administration of the failing school to transform the culture of the school to one in which high academic achievement is expected and achieved.” I have observed over the years in schools and districts where I have conducted teacher training professional staff development in, that teachers who are lead by effective leaders are able to achieve the most with their students. An effective, and well-respected principal is fundamental in the turning around of failing schools. Even the best teacher needs an effective leader to accomplish what they have the potential to within the classroom. What a great and “common-sense” plan Mr. Gorman has derived by placing the most effective principals in the districts’ failing schools. For further details about Charlotte, N.C., Superintendent Peter Gorman’s Strategic Staffing Initiative see the article by Newsweek reporter, Pat Wingert “An Offer They Wouldn’t Refuse: How One District Lured Top Principals To Rescue Its Failing Schools.”