Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Can a Cold-Hearted Principal Woo Parents Effectively?

Today's NY Times had an interesting article on how public schools have to market themselves to compete with charters.

Pressed by Charters, Harlem Public Schools Turn to Marketing ...

Given that the article focused on Harlem's PS 125 principal Rafaela Espinal, this may be the first time I was rooting for the charters. Espinal is the Leadership Academy principal from hell. For 5 years she was in charge of the school I spent 27 years teaching at in Williamsburg. My former colleagues, those in and those out of the rubber room, say she is as cold-hearted a person as there is.

She alienated teachers and parents equally. (Her now ex husband supposedly worked for Bloomberg.) When the teachers heard she was back in the system after a year in Jersey, they planned on sending condolence cards to the staff of PS 125. Sure enough, she wasn't at the school for more than a month than I heard she had sent her first teacher to the rubber room. It certainly won't be the last. (If I had time I would tell the worst of Espinal stories - they are legendary.)

Now my old school has another Leadership Academy principal - who everyone loves. A real human being with charm and humor. Can the LA actually graduate normal people?

I compared visits to the school during Espinal's tenure and post Espinal – everyone looked 10 years younger after she was gone. Just a sign of what a destructive principal can do to people. And what an enlightened one can do too. Now the school's grade, due to a more honest administration that wants more than test prep by offering enrichment, has dropped a bit. In the world of Tweed we know that Espinal is their ideal. That is the shame of the BloomKlein admin.

By the way, PS 125, the Ralph Bunche School, was the first school in the nation to have the internet due to one of the most advanced technology teachers ever - Paul Reese - who was eased out as the Dist. Tech coordinator - he was the only one in the city who insisted on doing some teaching and that didn't always sit well with the bureaucrats who wanted him always available - in case they couldn't find the socket to plug in their computers.

1 comment:

  1. Most parents don;t have the heart of stone. They are so loving to their kids that they will do everything not to hurt them and to provide everything for their goodness.


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