In response to the posts relating to, “A Reader Shares… Sunday Advice (2/7/10),” a reader writes:

“Well, SC, if the intention was to get a powerful response, then this reader doesn’t mind speaking up.

Maybe there should be some sensitivity to the designation of “principal as the only pure advocate for students on campus” especially when it comes to the position of principal.

Who is the principal on campus? According to my understanding of the interpretation used by TEA, the principal is the person who provides instructional leadership which defines the culture and climate of a campus serving the best interest of students. Coincidentally, there are no assistant principal or vice-principal or associate principal certificates earned in the State of Texas. If you look on the wall of our offices, you will probably find a Principal’s Certificate prominently displayed. While job descriptions may delineate a variety of duties and responsibilities from one position to another the bottom line remains advocacy for all students on campus.

The writer was correct that everyone on the campus team should be embracing the role of advocacy for student success. To suggest the principal (senior, building, headmaster) is the pure advocate may lend itself to then stating all else have ulterior motives for their service to students, faculty and the remaining stakeholders. Dare I say, they have impure advocacy? If that is the case, then I know of “principals” who have sacrificed certain principles in order to maintain the principalship, including students. By the same token anyone who is in this vital and vibrant profession for anything less than what is best for all students should be asked politely but resolutely to hit the door and be careful not to let it hit them in the proverbial butt on their way out.

Finally, let me respond to the “sweet spot of student interest and community interest” which is apparently reserved for the principal. There are AP’s who may take on the role of “bad cop” without a heart for what is good for all students. Resolutely, there are APs, and perhaps even P’s, who take on the role of “bad cop” with a heart for all students and protects the interest of students and community alike. I believe this is the core understanding for what defines a principal. Mainly, that a principal with principles understands the need to be a part of a strong team working collaboratively, seamlessly and cohesively for providing every effort to see that “no student is left behind” even if it is there choice to be left out.

I read and reread your response and found myself at the core value over and over again. While you promoted principals you also promoted the rest of the team. No one is nor can be greater than the other in the function of exemplary education and leadership. However, I understand and agree that ultimately the buck stops with the “principal” and so they are not necessarily the pure advocate or primary advocate but the ultimate advocate of student success, community relations and staff viability.

In proverbial SC style…

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…”

SC Response
OK, I’m thinking. Yes, the intent always is to get a powerful response. Can you be timid and be a member of the LYS Nation? And, as generally happens, you and I arrive at a similar destination even though we took different routes to get there.

Brown’s Rule does not imply that the principal is the only source of leadership on a campus. Nor does it imply that the principal is the only source of student advocacy. It does recognize the fact that the principal is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of the campus. It does recognize that the principal occupies the sweet spot where self interest and community interest intersect, as defined by student performance. And it recognizes that there are role specific agendas, that left unchecked, can circumvent the needs of students. In a perfect world, at a perfect school, this may not be the case. And when you find that school, call me because I can end my search.

You ask a great question, “Can there be impure advocacy?” The answer is “Absolutely. And don’t be ashamed by it or apologize for it.”

The ideals that make our country great have their foundation in the concept that the best solutions and best government occurs at the intersection of community and self interest. And here is the ultimate litmus test. Would you go to your school and work everyday if you did not get paid. Of course not. But public service is important enough to you to sacrifice private industry remuneration for the intrinsic reward derived from service to others. So as a field can we assume some level of heightened moral/social sensitivity. Possibly, but not anymore that anyone else committed to public service (fire, police, medical, military, etc). On the whole, educators are good people, but we aren’t perfect. Not even close.

Finally, as we both recognize, the moral and ethical tone of the organization is set by leadership. I am acutely aware of this fact because I am a product of this. I worked for Brezina and Neeley, because they focused my energy on helping schools that needed it, as opposed to those who wanted it or paid for it. I quit working for and with those whose did not share a similar moral code. And yes, I did then and still do expect to get paid. As are most of us, I’m motivated and mission oriented, not saintly.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…


The Anonymous Critic

The scourge of the field-based leader (in schools, think Assistant Principal and Principal) is the anonymous complaint. It will make…