No More Principal Dumping

Today was a day for slicking my hair back into the most staid, school-marmish bun you've ever seen in your entire life. It was fine because I was going to a meeting at my son's school and I wanted to look as serious and severe as possible. Yes, "Operation Get a New Principal" is in full effect! All I need is some little spectacles to complete the whole, "I mean business and I'm going after your ass," look. By the way, if you ever meet me, when I wear a black suit, heels, pearls and I have the bun going on, I'm not playing around.

See, I hate it when school administrators try to act like parents are stupid. Coffee with the principal is not the same as holding a workshop for parents. If your a principal and you're sitting across from me, I'm not going to smile as you whine about how you haven't been able to find anybody to do a newsletter at the school. Saying dumb stuff like that is what makes me say things like, "It sounds like you are having a difficult time motivating your staff to execute your directives." I mean, come on -- seven months into the school year and you can't get a newsletter out the door? We're not even getting into how the school councils haven't seen the budget, parent volunteers are discouraged, there was nothing done for Black History Month, and the beloved math coach was "transferred" under suspicious circumstances. And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

This principal has been an administrator for awhile but she's only been at this school for two years. I've met parents from her prior school and they have described to me how they went through the wringer to get her removed. Joy of joys, she got dumped at our school. It's a huge problem that instead of flat out firing bad principals, the school district just moves them to another school.

The most recent example of this is that of an assistant principal who, although investigated for allegedly molesting a student at Foshay Learning Center AND allegedly pulling a gun on the girl's stepdaddy, got transferred to another school, Markham Middle School in Watts. Can we say lawsuit?

Can you imagine what would go down if this alleged molester was a principal in a wealthier area? There'd be no putting him at a different school and hoping it all blows over. Nope, that principal would be very familiar with the concept of administrative leave!

But, this is all OK when you have children of color, when you have more low-income parents, and when parents are less likely to speak up because they don't always know what their children should be getting. But I know what my kids should be getting and I'm not afraid to demand it.

I can't help but think though about how if we're successful, in our efforts she's just going to get dumped at some other school and then the cycle will start all over again. My wish for the day? No more principal dumping!

Comments

Miriam said…
hoowee! I can hear the whip crackin! lol
Jameil said…
UGH!!!!!!! and it's not just in school districts. there are people who get in ALL KINDS of trouble and just jump from state to state without necessarily getting found out b/c these background checks are HORRENDOUS. DOWN WITH BAD TEACHERS AND ADMINS!!!
This pisses me off.

I realize there is a shortage but keeping bad principals around is not the answer.
Anonymous said…
Whew this education system is in need of total reform and support from the bottom on up. Good luck getting a hopefully much better principal.
Anonymous said…
That happens a lot in the UK as well, moving incompetent executives and managers from one organisation to another. What's even worse is when they get a fat pay-off and a bonus for screwing up. Good for you speaking up and demanding higher standards for your kids.
Jen said…
I'm going to read this in a few... I'm sick and moving slowly, but I wanted to get back to you on the TJ's cornbread thing - yes, use the buttermilk instead (same amount as TJs wants of oil), and maybe 1/4 cup of applesauce, as well. The texture will be different, but still fine. And then if the TJ recipe calls for eggs, use 2 egg whites for each egg instead. But NEXT time, just make the recipe, because it takes five minutes and it's better for you. ;-) Sorry to write off topic...
Jen said…
Okay, back on topic. For once, this is not unique to Watts or children of color (although FAR more prevalent, as with every other stinking injustice). It is darned hard to get decent principals these days. Anywhere. And no one is entering the field. Our educational system is another one of those areas that is cracking into a million pieces and the job of principals these days is becoming impossible, so smart folks know that and won't take it on and you're left with power-mongers who don't know how to get the job done.

I'm not saying there aren't fabulous principals out there. There are. But they are becoming fewer and farther between.

I can't believe about the dumping practice, though. What happens in OUR district is that a lousy principal usually gets moved "up" into the ranks of higher-up administrators, therefore making more sweeping decisions. Smart move, huh?

I'm so sorry your precious boys are stuck with this idiot. (With other hats on I've been teaching for 25+ years...)
1969 said…
This happens here in Philadelphia too. WE NEED CHANGE. I really hope voters get out and make themselves heard. SUpport a candidate who is for reform in the Public School system. I am blessed beyond belief to have my son at a great Charter School. GO GET EM LIZ!
Anonymous said…
I'm glad you're on top of this. Please let us know how things develop.
Liz Dwyer said…
Miriam,
I'll be cracking that whip again this afternoon as well. I have a meeting with supportive teachers and union folks. Whew, I hope all this works!

Jameil,
That's definitely true. There's so much shuffling of people who are incompetent. But at the school level it especially makes my blood boil because it's messing with the future of kids and these people are doing real damage. It's just not cool. Not at all.

NYC/CR,
And if they don't keep the bad principal in the classroom, the promote them to district level jobs or else put them back in the classroom where they're working with kids. It's pretty ridiculous.

Yolanda,
It needs a complete overhaul, not just the band-aid fixes that seem to be everywhere. Thanks for the good luck wishes. I hope this is successful, but it does make me wonder what sort of head case we could get as a replacement! Who knows!

Nick,
This incompetency shuffle does happen across all sorts of areas. Executives get huge severance packages, even when they've done horribly. We'll probably all be horrified as stories of the millions Bear Stearns execs earned as bonuses starts to come out. Principals don't get that sort of thing, but it's harder to fire one than someone working at an investment house. So, they just get shuffled.

Jen,
So sorry you're not feeling all that hot. So glad that substitution will work because I have a box of that cornbread mix sitting in my kitchen cabinet. I've been wanting to eat it but then I think about the calorie/fat count and change my mind. I should just make it all from scratch though, huh!

It is hard to find good admins these days. So many people always said I should be a principal but I always felt like to do a really good job at a low performing school would mean having no life otherwise and no time for my own kids. I know a few really great principals, particularly at charter schools and they have no lives and do the 80-90 hour work week (or more) every single week. I used to joke that I didn't want to work that hard -- even though I was working that hard at my old job. I'm just increasingly unwilling to sacrifice time with my family.

Bad principals get promoted out here too, all the time. It's like a rite of passage. You have to mess up a school to get on your way to the central office!

1969,
I wish the presidential candidates would talk more about education, but so much of it really does fall on the state level and city level. We're getting millions cut from our state education budgets and things are already pretty bare bones as it is...unless you're at a magnet or you get a neighborhood public school in a wealthier area, or if the parents do a ton of fundraising to supplement. AAGH! It just shouldn't be this hard! We're supposed to be the greatest nation in the world and we can't get our education system together!
Liz Dwyer said…
Jali,
I will keep you posted. I wish the principal would just retire or quit and make all the battling unnecessary!
Anonymous said…
The fearless and fabulous girl is taking on our crumbling educaiton system, again! Good for you! I know you can't stay too far away from ed reform.

I am not sure how else to reach you *wink*, so I am leaving a msg here. Are you thinking about going to the TC reception next week? I am hoping it's not just a fund raising event, and that there would actually be opportunities to network. And I certainly don't want to be there alone if they start asking us to empty our pockets... yet again.

Let me know and I hope to catch up with you then. :)

Shelly W. (from one day, all children)
the last noel said…
Oooooh, I'll remember when I see you in a bun and pearls, you mean bizness!
Hurray for standing up for yourself and your children. It's really dedicated parents that are going to change this bs we now called public schools.

I know really great administrators that quit because they get so trounced by the teach to test system.

I hope you are able to find a new vision for your kid's schools.
Liz Dwyer said…
Shelly,
Hey! I miss you! But I'm not going to the TC reception next week because my sister will be here. Plus, I would bet my last dollar that it is somehow only a fund raising thing. Can they fund raise to pay off the $$ we owe? LOL! Email me at los.angelista@gmail.com though. Let's catch up!

Noel,
I might cut all my hair off next week so I'll have to figure out what to do if it's too short to put it in the "I mean bizness" bun. We'll see though. I'll probably chicken out on chopping all my hair off.

Claudia,
Oh yes, the whole testing madness does get to be too much. Sometimes it feels like all the time from February on is spent doing test-prep. And when schools do improve, funding for them is often taken away so they end up getting penalized for improving.

I'm off to a meeting with teachers and other parents that starts in ten minutes, but I started thinking today about what it would look like to turn it into a charter school. Sigh!
Ian Lidster said…
A though-provoking post, Liz. Ah, school systems all look out for their own, there and here, too. And, patronizing principals -- as an ex teacher I could write volumes about them. Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; those who can't teach, teach PE, and those who can't teach PE become principals. That's actually quite true.
By the way, I want to see you in that bun.
Liz Dwyer said…
Ian,
The funny thing is that I used to wear my hair in a bun every day back in middle school because I used to pretend I was Jane Eyre. Oh, and I didn't know how to comb my hair! And, those who can't teach, teach PE! LOL! If only there was PE anymore! I think Illinois is the only state where it's even mandatory anymore. You should become a principal, Ian. What say you?
Unknown said…
it takes major ovaries to see ineptitude and decide to do something about it as oppoosed to just accepting it...I doubt that principal is ready for what's coming her way.
This is a great example of why inequality in our society is not just about the attitudes of individuals. It's about decisions that are made by those who are more powerful that impacts the lives of those who are less powerful.
Keith said…
That's crazy! I'll tell you, people are always wondering why certain communities are always so angry. Unless you've walked a mile in my shoes and have been seen institutional racism and class discrimination at work, then you will likely not know why. I'll modify your chant and say No More Problem Dumping!
It's bizarre that they recycle bad principals while laying off whole departments like music and art in many schools due to budget cuts.

It's a very hard uphill fight, but the only way to get results is to organize parents.

Good luck, Liz. Your boys certainly do deserve better.
Liz Dwyer said…
IANSJ,
"major ovaries"!!! I love it. But given that she's apparently been sued before, I'm sure she's run up against some before!

Phillipe,
Exactly! It's not just about folks thinking mean thoughts or saying offensive things. There are real, tangible consequences and it's playing out in a thousand ways around us every day.

Keith,
Folks still want to sit around and act like everyone has the same equal chance in life, even when they don't. Kids in 90210, sure as hell aren't getting 2nd rate principals. It's so immoral and outrageous.

Peter,
Thanks for checking back but I think I'm going to stick with this template.

Heart,
Thanks for the good luck. I think it's going to be a long, hard road ahead. And I'm so scared to see what's going to happen with this latest round of budget cuts. I think California is currently 47th in per pupil spending, so these cuts are going to be brutal.

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