Support & Develop Principals
Every now and then, Hollywood treats us with a movie spotlighting the challenges and changing landscape for an urban school principal. From Morgan Freeman’s riveting role as Joe Clark in Lean on Me, to Olympia Dukakis’ emotional portrayal of a supportive principal who challenged a teacher to be all he could be for his students in Mr. Holland’s Opus, occasionally a dynamic school principal is the character who steals movie scenes and gives us inspired insight into what it takes to will and lead progress within a school.
‘Occasionally’ is the operative word both for Hollywood and mainstream dialogue on school improvement in Oklahoma.
While teacher quality, recruitment and retention challenges in Oklahoma have been well documented in recent years, less has been written on principal quality and the role school leadership plays in addressing issues plaguing student achievement. There is little doubt of the direct correlation between student achievement and a highly-effective teacher in every Oklahoma classroom. Yet there also is little doubt that effective and consistent site-based leadership directly impacts whether teacher recruitment, retention and development, and student achievement efforts ultimately are successful.
Pipeline to Success is the result of Stand for Children Oklahoma’s analysis of national research and best practices to address what has become another substantial challenge impacting student achievement in Oklahoma’s urban areas: principal recruitment, development, support and retention.
Drawing on national research and highlighting challenges, progress and opportunities on principal quality work in Oklahoma City Public Schools, Pipeline to Success seeks to initiate public dialogue regarding principal quality in one of our state’s largest and most challenged school districts. Our aim is not to be critical of efforts currently under way in Oklahoma City to tackle principal quality. Our goal is for this report to be a catalyst in educating civic and business leaders on why this issue is one in which their collaborations with schools are valuable. It should also serve as a tool to educate the public on the integral role of the school principal in addressing the challenges impacting our teachers and students that concern all of us. These challenges range from discipline and efficient school operations, to teacher morale and proper implementation of standards and rigorous curriculum.
Our hope is this report builds more support statewide, and particularly in Oklahoma City, for research-based methods to better attract individuals to this profession and to develop their capacity, effectiveness and long-term contributions to lead and sustain positive change.
Amber England, Executive Director
Matt Latham, Oklahoma City Director