Tentative Principal’s Contract

Feb 25, 2020 by

Congratulations to the principals and assistant principals union on achieving a tentative new Contract with the City.  

If its terms will better enable them to serve our students and exemplify leadership skills that will benefit their staffs, then all the more power to them.

There are many such models currently in the system, although there are also some others who are not worth the prevailing minimum wage during Millard Fillmore’s presidency.

Without weighing the numerous Contractual improvements, I have a couple of  general observations.

There is no shortage of assistant principals. In fact there is a glut of them and other administrators.  If they are absent from certain sites, the reason is likely a matter of logistics and deployment. 

Citywide, the school system is top-heavy with variously-titled administrators who have little or nothing to do with education, although their job-description makes them sound indispensable.

Even principals, who are responsible for the nuts-and-bolts of running a school, with its many demands and daunting accountability,  are often, to no fault of their own, pulled away from their teaching and learning oversight duties to attend to nonsense mandated by the DOE.  

That fortunately, has been affirmatively addressed in the new Contract, which allows principals to remain where they’re needed rather than be coerced into attending what seems ludicrous quantities of profitless meetings off-site.

I don’t concede to the widely-held view that schools would fare better with fewer administrators, but I agree that some of them get away with a lot of coasting and skating. I wouldn’t ask that this phenomenon be addressed in a formal Agreement.

Just keep an eye on ’em.

School supervisors should be required to demonstrate lessons to teachers whom they supervise. The problem is that many do not themselves master pedagogical techniques and that’s why they’ll fight like a hooked marlin any proposal that they practice what they preach.

If members of the public could be “flies on the wall” and see for themselves how many school managers pass the time of the day, they would be very impressed in numerous cases, but feel robbed as taxpayers in others.

Certainly, however, many of them are terrific instructional models, although there are a few who have the executive function of herrings.  But I’m not on a fishing expedition to find fault.

The City should curtail the practice of hiring fantastic numbers of retired principals to work as “mentors” at astronomical rates of pay, for several days a week. This employment scam costs a fortune that should rather go to direct instructional services to children and just compensation to those in active-service.

Paying principals an extra $10,000-$15,000 for being ensconced in schools with a high turnover is a sweet emolument.  There are teachers who must deal with high percentages of difficult and disturbed kids who would prize a similar gift, and they are increasingly found throughout the city.

The new Contract still does not equalize the pay of elementary school principals with their counterparts on higher levels. Although most elementary schools have fewer students than do high schools, there are many exceptions, and this reason is no longer valid, if it ever was.  There  are high schools with half the number of students of many elementary schools.  

Should principals of high schools with 3,000 kids get the same remuneration as principals of schools with 200? 

 Yes. It would be divisive and a “slippery slope” to make such differentiations.

By and large, principals and assistant principals are productive and deserving professionals who play  a vital role and earn their keep. Speaking only for myself as an individual who has had many transactions with them over the years, I wish them well as their members go through the process of ratification.

Ron Isaac

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