In response to the post, “Teacher Stress – Part 9,” the writer writes:
“So the campus administrators will know, “Central Office” was my focus. I do agree that everyone has their own perception. This is not about principals. It’s about Central Office not being in touch with realistic goals and respecting the teaching profession. How can we all get on the same boat?”
It seems as if you are concerned with the disconnect between Central Office and campuses. This is a near universal phenomenon. There are some answers to this, but they are so radical that only a few leaders have attempted it. Strangely, I have worked for, or with, three pioneers in this area, Robert Brezina, Richard Griffin and Shirley Neeley.
To get the LYS Nation up to speed, I will quickly summarize the work of Dr. Bob Thompson, out of Lamar University. Dr. Thompson correctly points out that the disconnect between Central Office and the campus is systemic and is entirely the fault (responsibility) of the Superintendent. What happens is that there are two centers of gravity in a district, Superintendent and Principal. The closer you are to one of those centers, the more you are influenced by that particular center. Unfortunately, when you get to Central Office you realize that your long term success is based on keeping the Superintendent happy, so the needs of campuses (Principals) quickly take second tier status.
So how do you fix this? The Superintendent has to turn the world upside down. That means that the system has to be purposefully manipulated to make the Principal at least as important as the Superintendent. Here are three ways to do this:
1. The Thompson Method (used by Neeley). In the traditional district, the Superintendent evaluates the Central Office staff. Keep the Superintendent happy and you keep your job. Make the Principals unhappy and nobody cares. Using Thompson’s method, the Superintendent and the Principals evaluate Central Office staff. 40% of the evaluation is based on the Superintendent’s input, 60% from the Principals. Make the Principals unhappy and the Superintendent can’t save you. The center of gravity (balance of power) is shifted and the needs of the campus take precedent.
2. The Griffin Method. The high school principals and the assistant superintendents are equals and are on the same salary scale. This keeps leadership capacity at the campus level and ensures that Central Office can not arbitrarily tell a principal “No.” The center of gravity is shifted (balance of power) and the needs of the campus are better addressed.
3. The Brezina Method. Make the unit of measurement in the salary system based on the value of the principal (example: The Director of Technology = 0.8 Principal). Then, base the evaluation of Central Office staff on the results of the lowest performing campus. The center of gravity is shifted (balance of power) and the needs of the campus are better addressed.
Without Superintendent mandate, the disconnect is never really addressed. What is funny (funny sad, not funny Ha Ha) is that when the Superintendent who corrects the disconnect leaves, you can get whiplash from how fast the system snaps back to the old way of doing things. The needs of Ego will trump the needs of students darn near every time.
Think. Work. Achieve.