U.S. plan to replace principals hits snag: Who will step in?


The aggressive $4 billion program begun by the Obama administration in 2009 to radically transform the country’s worst schools included, as its centerpiece, a plan to install new principals to overhaul most of the failing schools. That policy decision, though, ran into a difficult reality: there simply were not enough qualified principals-in-waiting to take over, reports the New York Times. Many school superintendents also complained that replacing principals could throw their schools into even more turmoil, hindering nascent turnaround efforts. As a result, the Department of Education softened the hit-the-road plans for principals of underperforming schools laid out in the program rules. It issued guidelines allowing principals hired as part of local improvement efforts within the last two years to stay on, then interpreted that grandfather clause to mean three years. Although the program created an expectation that most schools would get new leadership, new data from eight large states show that many principals’ offices in failing schools still bear the same nameplates. About 44 percent of schools receiving federal turnaround money in these states still have the same principals who were leading them last year…

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