Many principals love their job and are entirely devoted to its success. However, even the best of them face frustrating moments. Here are some of their reflections from a recent survey that posed this question to some principals, What are your biggest challenges? These 3 stood out:
Mandates Without Money
Parents as Roadblocks
Frustrated by “Lost Students”
MANDATES WITHOUT MONEY
While the Federal Government has their narrative on No Child Left Behind (NCLB), many principals experience it quite differently. Often, they are saddled with new rules and regulations but are not provided the necessary funds to make them work. As one principal put it, “they expect us to carry out rules and laws made by people who don’t understand public schools or never tried to teach a child.
Many principals complained that while as principals they fully comprehend what is required to provide support for kids, due to budget or staffing constraints they are unable to meet the students’ needs. As a result, they end up losing some of those students, which creates a vicious cycle of losing community support, staffing, and budgeting, further exacerbating the problem.
PARENTS AS ROADBLOCKS
Another challenge that many principals face is that they often must deal with families that don’t value education or support their school’s efforts. For education to be successful, the family must be supportive. It is only with quality teachers and parental support that the schools can hope to close the achievement gap.
FRUSTRATED BY “LOST STUDENTS”
But beyond the frustrations and disappointments incurred due to money, or lack of it, and uncooperative parents, some principals bemoaned the pain of “losing a student.” Sometimes students, for whatever reason, decide that their education here has no relevance to their lives and continue in the system with no sense of purpose or direction.
Often the problem begins in the younger grades and presents itself either academically or socially. It may seem to be just a reading problem or difficulty in making friends. But allowed to persist, the pain for the child can begin to mushroom and morph into a much uglier form by the time that the student enters Middle School.
What many educators, including even the best principals and teachers, don’t realize is that the symptoms they are often witnessing have a simple solution. Take, for example, a reading or comprehension problem. Often when the child is evaluated, it is discovered that the intervention of a speech-language therapist (SLP) could make all the difference.
But even this realization while necessary, may not be sufficient. Now the administrator has a new problem. Find that elusive SLP, procure that funds to pay for it, and somehow work it into the overloaded and overwhelmed SLP servicing the district.
Fortunately, with the advent of online speech therapy (teletherapy), these challenges quickly disappear. Now top-quality SLPs, equally proficient to on site therapists can be found at a competitive price. Solving that innocuous speech problem while the student is still young can save yet another precious child from “getting lost” and give that principal more peace of mind.