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Pushback to the idea that yanking principal improves a school

The principals union is fighting against a federal program that calls for improving struggling schools by firing their principals.

As part of a three year federal grant program to “turn around” the city’s lowest-performing schools, the city can choose from four intervention plans, all of which call for removal of the schools’ principals. Even the least intrusive option — the transformation method — keeps the schools’ staff in place but requires the principals to be replaced.

Department of Education officials said on Thursday that they were lobbying the state to allow them to keep some principals in place. Schools that are showing signs of progress and others that have principals hired in the last three years, may be able to keep their principals, officials said.

“In cases where there hasn’t been change, we will not hesitate to remove the principal,” said Deputy Chancellor John White.

The principals union’s oppositions followed news that 11 schools will go through the transformation model, meaning they will keep most of their teachers but are likely to lose their principals.

Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan said schools won’t improve if principals lose their jobs but all the teachers keep theirs. In a statement he said:

It is foolish to assume that the Principals of these schools bear sole responsibility for their presence on NYS’s list of “persistently lowest achieving schools.” If the Chancellor removed these Principals and retained the teachers, he would be participating in a transparent political shell game that would allow NYC schools to perhaps qualify for Race to the Top money, but would not keep the interests of children in the forefront. This would be ludicrous and we do not believe that the Chancellor will do this.”

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