There have been several articles recently suggesting that teachers replace the role of school administrators. This idea is not new to Minnesota. In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law allowing school districts to operate teacher-governed schools.
Teacher-run-schools’ supporters point to St. Paul’s Avalon School as a success story. Yes, there are also examples of poorly managed teacher-run-schools.
Let’s begin by being realistic. Neither teachers nor administrators are flawless. The goal must be constantly evaluating and implementing steps to ensure a solid hiring process for both types of positions.
The role of administrator and teacher are different, but both are essential to creating successful schools. Teaching commands a specific skill set, while administrating requires another body of knowledge. Both are difficult and take time and training to do well.
Teachers have large responsibilities which makes the role of administrators vital. Educators have described the value of strong leadership and support from their principals and superintendents as a positive factor in making their work successful.
Administrative positions are created for the purposes of school management, accountability, and leadership. Teachers on the other hand, are trained in pedagogy, curriculum construction, and instructional methods. While some teachers might possess natural administrative abilities, as many principals were once teachers, additional professional administrative training must not be discounted. Running a classroom is not the same as running a school.
Teachers can benefit from administrators by partnering with them, not replacing them. We need to acknowledge the importance of both types of roles, and work toward fostering strong teacher-administrator partnerships and hiring only knowledgeable, skilled, honest, and responsible individuals for both types of jobs.