Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I've been saying it for years

I hate to pull an Ambrose Bennett, but I've been saying this for years: School principals in the CNMI have too much power. Let me preface this by saying school principals are wildly underpaid here -- far more than teachers. Principal here is an awful job that barely pays more than teachers. These people don't get the summer break and they also get most of the abuse. Wild horses couldn't get me to take that job. I told my friend Betty Miller not to do it, but she forged ahead. My own administration is very fair and reasonable at SSHS, and they are about the only tandem to be in place for six years, which is one of the reasons that my school runs well. The administrative turnover at most schools is enormous. One of the reasons Hopwood is such a horror is the musical chairs taking place at the head of that place over the last few years.

People have been complaining about this woman in Tinian forever. Factoring in that it's Tinian, which let's face it, is a hard place to live and to recruit people to, makes the situation even stranger. I'm surprised this situation goes on.

Some of the people that become principals or vice principals in PSS are absolute dolts who shouldn't be running a children's mango stand on the side of the road -- and they're the ones empowered with hiring and firing responsiblity with little oversight. It's ridiculous, and it has been ridiculous for years. Of course, it wasn't until a pissing match occurred between a principal and a board member that this became an issue.

THE Board of Education will revisit the existing policy on the hiring and
firing discretion of school principals. During a special BOE meeting, Rota board
member Denise Tanya King questioned the existing procedures and policy of the
Public School System regarding the “authority” given to school principals.
“If the only person who will evaluate the teacher is her/his principal, I think
the system is giving our principals a tremendous power,” King told the board. It was earlier disclosed that 31 teachers have either resigned from their posts or their contracts were not renewed.


Saipan Writer said...

I'm curious what you think is a better system, and how schools in the states do things.

Jeff said...

It's much harder to become a principal in the states. That's half the problem here. Many states have unions and/or tenure as well, so personality conflicts don't impact people's livelihood as acutely as it does here.

I would suggest a review board of some sort. Putting that power in one person's hand doesn't seem to be a great idea.

Anonymous said...

what is the picture all about. why is there a picture of a monkey or what ever that is on your blog.

Jeff said...

I liked the pic. Why not.

Saipan Writer said...

Jeff, I kind of suspected as much. A good principal would be less likely to abuse the power, and would in fact need the power to get rid of substandard teachers. The problem is less about the power and more about the poor quality of our principals.

And that's what our Board of Ed should be focused on, getting better quality principals.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Seems to me the best person to determine who is functioning appropriately in a school would be the principal of that school. Hiring and firing included, you need to have real personal responsibility not some committee in a can decide who stays and who leaves.

Your suggestion of a review board which looks at cases where the teacher disputes the firing formally seems a good idea. Even then, reinstating that teacher in the same school will probably cause problems. If it is an obvious case of a good teacher having been fired for whatever reason, then maybe allow them to teach in a different school on a probationary basis. If all goes well, renew the contract there.

lil bit said...

i would be the first to say the principal on tinan isnt perfect when it comes to her managment style, however, most of the teachers she has not renewed in the past 6 years were wack jobs in the first place. i worked there while much of this was going on. she and i did not see eye to on many things, but she always had the kids best interest at heart. she always ALWAYS put the kids first. before the teacher even. i can attest to many of the ineptness of a majority of the teachers not renewed. Many of those people should not have been hired in the first place.

Jeff said...

You were there, so thanks for the comment. I've not heard many good things from friends who were there.

Betty said...

Sorry, fell off the rader for a while, just checked your blog. For the record I love my job as administrator...but I'm stupid like that! (It helps to work at the BEST elementary school on island, ha ha.)

I think due process or some sort of checks and balance system should be in place before ANY employee is terminated or not renewed. (Aide, teacher Commissioner...)

In Washington state, there is a transfer system in place for teachers who want or need a change in schools. (Adminsitrators too.) Something like this may address some of the concerns. That is not to say that ineffective teachers should expect to just change schools when their administrator holds them accountable for their professional responsibilities though. These people should be duly warned, guided, and terminated if needed.