Waiting for Middle Management
So I finally got to see Waiting for Superman in a 35-seat screening room near the college campus. All 35 seats were filled with what appeared to be retired teachers and college professors. Hardly anyone was under 40, and I’m hoping that demographic doesn’t represent who is actually seeing this film.
Even so, most of us identified with the young and/or hip (Rhee and Canada and all the kids) as opposed to the union types. The journalists and academics featured in the documentary are neither young nor hip, but sincere. Yeah, I loved the movie, hated the ending.
But here’s the question that I keep thinking about: Where are the principals, the middle managers, the men and women who are supposed to make schools work on a daily basis? Where are the people who are supposed to be supervising teachers, disciplining kids, working with parents? In nearly everything I read and see about school reform, it’s about superintendents and teachers and union leadership. Middle management will be the ones to implement reforms, so why is it not represented? It’s almost as if reform will be agreed upon by the superintendent and the union chief and the union chief will be the one to see that teachers implement change.
Maybe I’m way off base, but I’m interested in knowing how principals see their role in the national debate about reform, value added, supervision and evaluation, tenure, seniority, and all the other hot topics currently of interest. Are principals thinking about these issues, involved in the debate, or just working hard to keep their heads above water during tough economic times? Are they included in discussions between labor and management, or are they just waiting to see what trickles down from the central office?
If you are a principal, I’d love to get your point of view on what you think your role is during these interesting times of reform. I don’t see how any lasting change in education can happen without principals and other middle management buying into it.