In response to the comments relating to, “Brown’s Wisdom,” a reader writes:
“Let’s not fool ourselves; most principals are NOT the main advocates for students even though they should be. In most cases they are caught up in political mumbo jumbo, employee issues, and district office garbage that consumes most of their advocacy time. I am sure glad Sean can say it like it is and refocus the leaders who really want to be advocates.”
I do agree that most principals are not the main advocate for students, which is why the system is generally designed for adult comfort. If the person who occupies the advocate’s role does not engage, that is the logical result. However, I think the reasons for not embracing the role are varied. Here are just a couple (feel free to share others):
1. There are bad principals that shouldn’t have received their job. Just like there are bad teachers, bad superintendents and so on. Some people just aren’t cut out for the job, even though they interviewed well. These principals are the “Unwilling and Unable.”
2. There are some principals have been beaten down to the point that all they know to do is hunker down and go with the flow. These principals are the “Injured.”
3. There are some principals that just don’t know that they should put students in front of adults. These principals are the “Uninformed.”
4. There are some principals that haven’t had the right mix of mentors to help them develop their ideas and professional character. These principals are the “Unlucky.”
I may be the luckiest school leader ever, my personal list of mentors includes: Dr. Richard Hooker (the early godfather of Texas school finance); Bob Brezina (who LYS readers know); Wayne Schaper Sr. (the godfather of Spring Branch ISD, TASSP and UIL); Fred Richardson (TASSP president); Harlan Yetter (Principal); E. Don Brown (who LYS Readers know) and Dr. Shirley Neeley (Commissioner, Texas Education Agency). If I don’t do right, there is a long line of people who are still more than willing to remind me why we really do this job.
5. There are some principals who are working on a figurative island, who have no one to bounce ideas off of and shore themselves up with. These principals are the “Isolated.”
Again, I can not be any luckier. The following are just a few of the active Principals that I get to have serious conversations with, more than once each month: John Montelongo (HS Principal); Justin Marchel (MS Principal); Leslie Thomas (ES Principal); Barbara Fine (ES Principal); Jerry Gibson (HS Principal); Mike Seabolt (HS Principal); and Lesa Cain (ES Principal). That’s a network of a lot of powerful brains that are linked for one purpose, their students outperforming your students.
I was taught early in my career (and didn’t understand until much later) that the two most important people in the system are the Superintendent and the building Principal. The organization focuses on the Superintendent (and central office) because he or she is the source of power. The organization overlooks the Principal (and the campus), even though he or she is the source of service.
My goal (or agenda) is to shift the focus of the organization from the Superintendent and central office to the Principal and the campus. This means that the Unwilling and Unable Principal will no longer have a place to hide. And that every other Principal and campus leader will have at least one external source of support as they fight the good fight. One person is a lonely voice, two people are the genesis of a team.
Think. Work. Achieve.