Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You Don't Have To Be Crazy To Work Here...Well, Really You Do

Is it me or is education coverage getting better in the local papers? The Trib has a story yesterday about the woeful pay for school administrators (principals/asst. principals) and how rises in teacher salaries have principals jumping admin ship and going back to the classroom in droves.

It's something we in the biz have been talking about for some time, and it's good to see these real news stories coming out from the teacher's lounge (btw, very, very few teachers ever hit the "teacher's lounge" anymore) and into public view. I won't regurgitate the story...just go read it, and will only add a point or two to the simple fact that experienced teachers now get paid as much or more than they did as principals.

Scot's additional points:

  • Being a Principal or Assistant Principal is an incredibly sucky job. Yes "sucky" is a term we teaching professionals use when discussing serious matters such as administrative pay scales;
  • Reasons for why the job sucks would take up about six blog pages, but include: long hours, an onerous, confused district, whiny teachers who are themselves insane, parents who don't care or care way too much about the wrong things, inadequate budgets, standardized testing and media outlets which misinterpret standardized test scores, and little or no contact with the classroom and direct teaching, which is what got the person into the K-12 profession to begin with;
  • In other words, nobody in their right mind would become a principal or assistant principal these days, and we haven't even mentioned the pay yet;
  • Some principals and assistant principals around the district are not in their right minds, but you'd go crazy too if you had to be a school principal;
  • So what we have here is a job that will drive you crazy if you aren't already crazy for seeking it in the first place;
  • Scot is very lucky and works with consummately competent, sane, dedicated administrators at his school;
  • Scot is not kidding about the competence of his admin staff, or the fact that he metaphorically kisses the ground everyday in thanks that his admin staff isn't crazy, or even worse, intrusive;
  • This has not always been the case in Scot's teaching career, and his experiences with off-kilter administrators are the source of tons of funny and/or horrific stories that he will not tell now, or probably ever;
  • Believe me...they're funny and horrific. Okay, maybe they're mainly horrific.
You're probably thinking you have the answer to the increasing principal shortage: raid local insane asylums. I kid, of course. Instead you're probably agree with Rep. Mimi Stewart (a teacher herself) that we need to pay school administrators more, enough for them to get past the fact that the job sucks and they would be crazy to do it. Realistically, I'd say you'd have to pay roughly $250,000 a year to make me forget the whole suck/crazy thing. But I'm not as financially desperate as some.

Which gets to a more serious proposal: find financially desperate teachers and make them principals. Do a little private investigation work and identify teachers with massive gambling problems, crippling alimony and exorbitantly high college tuition for their prima donna children. Offer these cases another $10,000 a year over their teaching salaries and they'll be jumping on these admin jobs like leftover doughnuts in the teacher's lounge.

Otherwise, the district and state are going to have to cough up tons more money to overcome the stink of the admin gig. Six figures minimum. And while I'm kidding about much of the above, I'm not kidding about that dollar amount. The job of principal/asst. principal is so wildly less desirable than a teaching job that it can't even be mentioned in the same universe of pay scale thought. It's a ridiculous situation that admin pay raises haven't kept up with those of teachers. One might even say it's crazy.


Natalie said...

I read the article and agree with your assessment that you'd have to be crazy to be a principal under these guidelines.
I see the problem as principals not being held to accountable professional development as well as held accountable to the measure of their effectiveness.
Your admin staff sounds wonderful and those are the people who would fly through accountability measures. They should be paid more than teachers based on their level of responsibility.
Your point is well taken about people getting into it for the money for the wrong reasons without a measure of accountability if there was an increase. There are plenty of nutcases out there running our schools and I'm not talking about someone crazy enough to do the work for so little pay; I'm talking about the ineffectual nutcases who spew their inability to lead on everyone hoping that by creating enough confusion, they can get their bet in before 2PM. Nutso stuff.
The very same thing could be said about some teachers. (You, of course, are not in this group. Well, except for that goat thing. lol I'm teasin')
And what of school counselors? They aren't even on the state's budget and there is a tremendous disparity between effectiveness, professional development, and people just walking through their jobs. Same deal.
It all comes down to accountability. And, I'm not talking about testing scores. Pffttt.
That sucky job is crucial in leading educators toward educational excellence. Shit does roll downhill. I'm sure you know this but I'm just sayin'...
I hope principals/asst. principals get substantial raises but I'd also like to see some stronger measures of accountability rise out of that action. There is some great leadership in our schools and some really bad ones. Dr. Everitt needs to get on the schtick.
That's just my opinion... for what it's worth.
Have a good one.

Natalie said...

This is interesting:

Sorry, incredibly long link but check it out.