Principal diversity remains elusive

Few people will deny the important role that principals play in educating students, which is why the low percentage of people of color in authoritative positions is disturbing (“School leadership: An untapped opportunity to draw young people of color into teaching,” brookings.edu, Nov. 26).  But let’s not jump to any conclusions.

Despite the opportunities for leadership in schools for blacks and Hispanics compared with leadership opportunities in other fields, principals are largely white. Reformers argue that the reason isracism.  But I submit that not everyone wants to leave classroom teaching for the front office.  That’s because principals today are saddled with unprecedented responsibilities.

When I was in public school from K-12, the principal’s job was far less stressful than it is today.  As a result, the decision to leave the classroom was easy.  Some teachers wanted higher pay and were willing to put in the additional hours.  But today, the additional pay simply is not as alluring because of the unprecedented responsibilities that go along with it.  In short, it’s a personal choice.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

 

 

8 Replies to “Principal diversity remains elusive”

  1. According to the linked article, the percentage of black principals and of Hispanic principals is higher than the percentage of black teachers and of Hispanic teachers. This is strong evidence that if there is any racism at play, it would be in the hiring of teachers rather than in the selection of teachers to be principals — that is, the percentage of black teachers and of Hispanic teachers is much lower than the percentage of black students and of Hispanic students.

    I’d argue that, in the inner-city school systems,reverse racism is probably at work in the selection of principals. No evidence to support the argument — just the common sense observation that, if a school serves an overwhelmingly black or Hispanic student/parent population, when the principal does something that ticks off parents, having the principal be the same race as the parents will go a long way towards removing the “racist” arrow from the ticked-off parents’ quiver.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Not everyone wants to be a principal. That applies to all races. Therefore, I doubt that racism plays a role in the imbalance between principals and teachers. Attempts to engineer the desired outcome will invariably result in reverse racism.

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    1. It seems like blacks and Hispanics have an advantage over whites when applying for a principal position — that is, according to the chart in the linked article, the percentage of black and Hispanic principals is higher than the percentage of black and Hispanic teachers. Assuming that virtually all principals were at one time teachers, we would expect that, if the principal selection process was race-neutral, the percentages of black and Hispanic principals would be the same as the percentages of black and Hispanic teachers + if the principal selection process favored whites over blacks/Hispanics, the percentages of black and Hispanic principals would be lower than the percentages of black and Hispanic teachers + if the principal selection process favored blacks/Hispanics over whites, the percentages of black and Hispanic principals would be higher than the percentages of black and Hispanic teachers. This last scenario is what the linked-article chart shows — that is, the principal selection process apparently favors blacks/Hispanics over whites.

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  3. Labor Lawyer: You’re assuming that teachers want to be principals when you talk about the percentage of teachers of color compared with the percentage of principals of color. But not all teachers of color want to be principals and vice versa. I maintain that racism has nothing to do with the imbalance. It is largely a personal choice.

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    1. We might be talking past each other here. Usually, when someone talks about racism, it’s in the context of the decision-maker discriminating against blacks and Hispanics in favor of whites. The stats suggest this is not happening in principal selection (although the stats do suggest that this is happening in teacher selection).

      My limited argument here is that reverse racism (defined as giving more “points” for being black or Hispanic) is happening in principal selection — that is, the percentage of blacks and Hispanics who are principals is higher than the percentage of blacks and Hispanics who are teachers (the pool from which principals are selected). It makes sense to me that inner-city school systems serving predominantly black and Hispanic families would prefer a black or Hispanic principal over a white principal to reduce the number of “you’re just being racist” allegations from parents when the principal does something that ticks off a parent who is black or Hispanic.

      Your argument is that principal selection is not biased for or against blacks/Hispanics and that any over or under representation of blacks/Hispanics among principals is due to blacks/Hispanics being more or less likely than whites to want to be a principal. You might be correct. Seems likely that black/Hispanic teachers are more likely to be the sole or dominant wage-earner in the family than white teachers — particularly due to the fact that black women are more likely to have college degrees (be higher earners) than black men and that black women are more likely to be single mothers than white women, so black female teachers are more likely to need the extra $ that goes with being a principal than white female teachers, white male teachers and black male teachers.

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  4. Labor Lawyer: It’s hard to know exactly why blacks and Hispanics tend to avoid the front office and remain in the classroom. But I think there are many personal reasons that cannot be attributed to racism. If anything, there may be reverse racism at work.

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  5. I was surprised to read your comments about diversity and it just dealt with race.
    From my experience:
    1. 95% of elementary teachers are female.
    2. 95% of elementary principals are female.
    3. 70% of secondary teachers are male.
    4. 85% of secondary principals are male.

    Also, from my experience, unless you have a sponsor on the school board or a member of the “GOOD OLD BOYS CLUB” you will never get an administrative position.

    Teachers, parents and students just want the best person for their principal.

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    1. mathcoach2: I restricted my comments to race because I was responding only to the article I cited. But you are right about your other observations. The Los Angeles Unified School District may be an exception because of its efforts to restore balance.

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