Principal Pressure: A School’s Most Important Job Comes Loaded with All Kinds of Stress


The Cincinnati Enquirer

This Cincinnati Enquirer piece points up the landmark changes in the jobs of school principals. Their work is no longer about managing a building and maintaining the status quo. Driven by higher standards and greater accountability, the principalship is a high-pressure position that’s all about improving instruction and leading change.

But do principals’ working conditions help them meet that challenge? Editorial writer Krista Ramsey writes that many leaders find themselves trapped between the desire to focus on school improvement — raising test scores, refining teachers’ skills, making sure all kids learn — and daily realities, which pin them down under wave after wave of management tasks and other demands.

“Figuring out how to juggle a growing list of state mandates and increased social services to families with the ever-present demands of running buildings — sometimes the size of small cities — is the dilemma of every principal,” Ramsey writes.

Ramsey’s piece cites Rolling Up Their Sleeves, a Wallace-sponsored national survey by Public Agenda that revealed school leaders’ perspectives about the pressures they face and the changes they would recommend to improve matters. Many educators worry that unless such changes — including better training, a release from non-instructional tasks, and greater authority to make needed changes within the school — are made, the best leaders will shy from taking on the principalship and or from staying in their positions long enough to bring about improvements.

Ramsey quotes Richard Laine, the director of Wallace’s education leadership program, who notes how detrimental such a result could be: “The principal is the pivotal position,” Laine told the Enquirer. “They’re the ones who can influence the staff, who are the source of vision that gets teachers to concentrate on instruction.”

Full Article here.

Note: The Enquirer has also published an editorial on this subject that readers may find valuable. To read the editorial, click here.