As I wrote yesterday, my kids’ elementary and junior high schools are both hiring new principals next year. There are a lot of qualities I’d like to see in a principal. They have little to do with whether he or she can maximize test scores and control behavior, and a lot to do with respecting kids and cultivating a humane educational environment. We had a temporary interim principal at our elementary school for the last couple of months who was particularly well-liked by the kids, and seemed to have a great rapport with them. I don’t know much else about him, but that seemed like an awfully good sign. I was sorry to see him go.
Unfortunately, there’s another quality that I’m beginning to think is crucial: seniority. A principal with some seniority can push back against some of the nonsense that comes down from above, and can serve as a real advocate for the school’s families. But seniority is just what you’re unlikely to get when you hire a new principal. When the new hire starts at our elementary school next year, he or she will be the sixth different principal (counting interims) at the school in seven years, which itself might explain a lot.