Behind the Headline: A Good Turnaround Principal is Hard to Find, Urban Leaders Say

By 03/25/2014

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A Good Turnaround Principal is Hard to Find, Urban Leaders Say
3/24/14 | Politics K-12

Behind the Headline
The Turnaround Fallacy
Winter 2010 | Education Next

Leaders of urban school districts are telling the Obama administration that efforts to turn around low-performing schools via the $5.5 billion School Improvement Grant (SIG) program are unlikely to have much impact, writes Lesli Maxwell. The biggest problem is a shortage of principals who know how to turn around struggling schools.

Ray Hart, the research director of the Council of Great City Schools explained a deeper problem with the SIG program.

“The individuals who are writing the SIG grants for schools are the principals who are being replaced,” he said. When new principals come in, they are either stuck with implementing a plan they didn’t write, or they are trying to make changes to it, he noted. And in districts where superintendents know which principals they should move into the turnaround schools, there are concerns about what happens to the progress achieved in those leaders’ former schools once they are moved.

In the Winter 2010 issue of Ed Next, Andy Smarick argued that we should stop trying to fix failing schools, and instead shut them down and start fresh, in “The Turnaround Fallacy.”

Recent commentary by Andy Smarick on the School Improvement Grant program can be found here.

-Education Next

Comment on this article
  • Chuck Swangren says:

    Good principals, and outstanding teachers are hard to find, and harder yet to match to the community that they will work in. The slogans and goals about attracting the best educators are noteworthy, but are full of empty air. It’s still a crap shoot, just like it always has been. Verbage about our children being important is empty vapor. Too bad it has come to this. It wasn’t always this way.

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