Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) have introduced the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act of 2009, which would create a federal grant program “to recruit, support, and prepare principals to improve student academic achievement at high-need schools.” Eligible applicants for grants would include a local educational agency; or a non-profit organization, educational service agency, higher education institution, or state educational agency that has a partnership with one or more local educational agencies.

The bill’s findings note inadequacies of present principal principal preparation programs, stating that “Principals need both management and instructional leadership skills to be effective. Yet most principal preparation programs fail to devote adequate attention and resources to training principals in instructional leadership.”

The actual bill is attached

2 thoughts on “School Principal Recruitment and Training Act of 2009

  1. Interested on your take on this bill. I think it has good intentions, but I see a lot of shortcomings. For instance, if this is so important, why not do more than just a grant program? All the stuff listed in (e)(2)(C) is stuff that is already in the ISLLC standards … how about something new? And, I guess I don’t get the focus on the high need schools only? Plus, the 20% match is going to be a significant barrier. Who is providing that match? Universities? Districts? State DOE’s?

    If the Democrats really wanted this, they could have included it in the RttT criteria. That would have actually caused states to act in creating real principal internships. I certainly like their focus on internships and data dissemination and high need schools even, but this bill seems a bit pollyannish in that it doesn’t really get at any of the core issues in leadership preparation for schools and it also doesn’t really incentivize most universities/districts/states to change operating procedure. I guess you can look at it as a start, but we have had lots of starts and fits, no sustained reform.

    But, my overall take is that I doubt this bill has much of a chance, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this come up again in reauthorization.

  2. Justin,

    Nice analysis. I guess the absence of my opinion on the bill wasn’t as inconspicuous as I had hoped. I hesitated to give my take on it at first because I wanted some time to really think about it.

    First, I too would be surprised if the bill made it through either the Senate or House education committees. But I have a couple of major concerns about the bill. First, it might be surprising to know that by nature I’m rather conservative. So while I believe the bill’s sponsors have good intentions, I’m not sure that this is a good place for Congress to intervene. Admittedly, there are shortcomings to administrator preparation programs across the country, but I would much rather see the federal government give incentives to states for reforming administrator preparation than individual school districts or individual schools. This could work in a similar vein to how “Race to the Top” is working. I’m not a fan of piecemeal approaches to education reform, which brings me to my second concern. There are a number of states, ours included, that are already in the midst of overhauls to administrator preparation programs. I’m not sure about the effects that a federal grant program such as this one could have on what states (and in our case universities/programs) end up putting in place. 
    I think you’re right on with the thought that we’ll see this again with ESEA and in other forms. In fact, today’s news of the Dept. of Ed’s plans for reform to colleges of education and educator preparation programs in general may already be proving you right.

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