Who runs schools? Does the principal? Does the superintendent? Do the unions? Does the school board? Does the local business chamber? Is it the politician? Is it a local education nonprofit?
It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. Do you remember the time when the principal ran the school? The principal was the one making all the decisions. He or she chose the curriculum and made hiring and firing decisions. The buck stopped at the principal’s door. Now, it seems that the position of the principal is nothing more than an empty title.
Yes, you can look at the top of the organizational chart, but in most cases, the person making the decisions about schools is not the person at the top, nor is it the person who names come first, or the person who is the face associated with the school.
Who runs our schools? I have a few theories.
The first is the most obvious, the money. In some cases, the idea there isn’t money isn’t always the case. There is money available. The problem is the money controls everything. If someone has the money and the school needs the money, that someone now controls the school. The person giving the money might require the school to spend the money on a certain program even if that program does not work. Of course, with any new program, time must be spent tracking the progress of the program and showing the program is actually being used to satisfy the person funding the program. Next, you have an organization with the money to fund educational advancements. The schools want and need the money, but now the school is tied to that organization. The money comes with strings attached. Schools cannot disagree with the money source even if the money source contradicts the mission of the school. Why? Because the money is needed to operate, and schools won’t exist without the money.
The politicians run the schools. Politicians run our schools because they make all the decisions. Often, they make decisions about schools without any frame of reference. Even with the education policy experts who advise them on what decisions to make regarding schools, they hold power because they cast votes, and they draft and revise the legislation. They can create a policy that allows them to control the schools. The idea of a Governor-appointed State Education chief or even a Mayor-appointed school superintendents/chancellors is not in the best interest of our kids. Those education heads are working for that politician and are tasked with carrying out their agenda even if that agenda is not what is best for schools.
School boards run the schools. I get the importance of having a school board; however, do school board members know what is best for schools? School boards sometimes can overstep their authority. Sometimes it seems odd to me the power that many school boards have over decisions of the school. School boards make decisions about principals and superintendents. They decide student performance, school personnel, budget issues, and facilities problems. Many boards are also made up of people who are not equipped with the skills required to make those decisions, but the members have enormous power and decision-making authority.
When it comes to schools, there are too many chefs in the kitchen. Let the educators run schools. Gives us the power back.
Be on the lookout for my next blog, “Let us Lead” when I explain why WE need to get the power back and start back running our schools!