Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Principals Make the Difference

According to the Denver Post, Principal's persistence sends Lincoln High grad rate soaring. At Lincoln High School - of the notoriously struggling Denver Public Schools - the turnaround rate in dropouts to college applications has been impressive, and:

Part of the reason for the rebound is the school's principal — Antonio Esquibel, a Lincoln alum who grew up about half-mile from Lincoln. He has made it his mission to change the culture for the Lancers. Esquibel has borrowed techniques from successful charter schools, putting an emphasis on attendance, credit recovery and college readiness.

Esquibel has set clear expectations, from attendance to grades, and his enforcement of this pro-academic culture at his school is fundamental to its success. Granted, there is a long way to go. Though the message is clear. A culture of learning is integral to the success of a school community, and that culture is set by the administration.

Got a problem with the school? Start at the top. It's no different than in sports. Failing teams fire their coaches, and successful teams result from strong leadership.


Dennis Fermoyle said...

Sounds great, Michael. I do believe the principal is the key person in a school, and I also believe culture is key. Changing a school's culture for the better, however, must be a challenge. Having kids on contracts usually sounds more effective than it actually is, but in this case it seems to be working. I wonder what they do to keep kids from breaking those contracts?

mmazenko said...

Thanks, Dennis.

I was curious about the contract issue, as well, noting that if it were a charter, they'd just boot the kids out.

Perhaps this is an example of your valid argument that schools need more leeway in removing kids not committed to education.

We're supposed to be about choice, right? What about allowing kids to choose their way out of the system?

Rather revolutionary, and, dare I say, heretic?

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

I agree that principals make a great deal of difference. Long ago, we used to have one that would show up for City Zoning committee meetings when something was proposed that would badly affect his elementary school. He truly cared about the kids and the place.

Then we got another principal and now we homeschool. :]