Diane Ravitch will receive NEA’s Friend of Education award tomorrow morning and she will deliver a speech that is certain to rouse the delegates and tick off her opponents. In that, she will be little different from previous Friends of Education.
This morning In May, however, Ravitch gave an interview to the Columbus (OH) Education Association, which they have posted on their blog. She’s entitled to her opinions, but the facts contradict one of her claims:
You add to that a movement over the past several years that says “You don’t need any particular school experience to be a principal, you just need to be a good manager.” So we have seen the rise over the past several years of programs to turn people [instantly] into principals with a one year training course or sometimes less. They may have taught for a year, or two, or three, but they’re not master teachers, or they may not have taught at all, and suddenly they’re principals.
I don’t know if there actually is a “movement” to hire as principals people with little or no teaching experience, but if there is, it has been an utter failure. From The Condition of Education, a 2010 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (if you have trouble accessing the USDE website, check the Google cache):
In 2007–08, about 26 percent of private elementary school principals had 3 or fewer years of teaching experience, compared with 3 percent of public elementary school principals. (emphasis added)
As Table A-29-1 shows (Google cache here), that’s actually down from 4.9 percent of public elementary school principals in 1999-2000. In public secondary schools, 6.8 percent of principals had 3 or fewer years of teaching experience before taking the job. That number is also down – from 8.4 percent in 1999-2000.
I’ve heard every crack about principals from teachers, but by-and-large principals are teachers, and experienced ones at that.