Updated 07/21/2011 11:56 PM
NY1 Exclusive: Survey Finds Some City Teachers Do Not Trust Their Own Principals
Department of Education officials agree that a good principal can make for a good school, but what happens when the DOE asks who are the good principals and who are not? NY1 has analyzed the results of an annual survey at all 1,700 public schools to see what teachers had to say about their principals. NY1's Education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
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Once a year, the Department of Education asks parents, teachers and students about their school. The answers can be enlightening.
For example, teachers are asked whether they Agree or Disagree with a number of statements, including "The principal is an effective manager who makes the school run smoothly" and "I trust the principal at his or her word." It cannot be good if teachers disagree with either of those.
But when NY1 looked at results for all 1,700 schools, the station found at some institutions the teachers say they "strongly disagree" with both.
In 20 schools, 75 percent or more of the teachers say they do not trust their principal and they don't think he or she makes the school run smoothly.
School experts say that is a major red flag.
"They clearly want everybody in the school rowing the boat in the same direction, and if there's a lot of friction between the administration and the faculty, it's a sign that people are working across purposes, and that's not good," says Clara Hemphill of The New School and InsideSchools.org.
The principal at PS/IS 224 in the Bronx got the worst rating in the city and the DOE may have listened. Officials replaced Principal Jenelle Lewis in late May, after she was on the job less than a year.
In Brooklyn, another principal got almost as bad a score. Principal Andrea Whitehurst was hand-picked by the DOE to turn around this troubled school.
But teachers at the Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence aren't on board: 84 percent say Whitehurst is a bad manager and untrustworthy.
"It's the role of a good principal to pursuade the staff that the changes are good and necessary," says Hemphill.
NY1 asked the DOE about the 20 schools where more than 75 percent of teachers don't stand-by their principals. A spokesperson dodged the question, saying that principals are working hard and more than three-quarters of teachers in the system are satisfied with their principals.
On Friday, NY1 will reveal who teachers say are the most trustworthy and capable school leaders.