principals union

Round Two

New York

Walcott tells principals he'll reduce their paperwork load

In his first policy speech earlier this month, new Chancellor Dennis Walcott extended an olive branch to teachers. Now he's reaching out to principals, telling them that simplifying their jobs is one of his top goals. "One of my top priorities is to free up more of your time so that you can focus on the critical tasks that directly improve student achievement," Walcott wrote in this week's Principals Weekly email, the first to contain a letter from him. While Walcott has said repeatedly that he plans to continue the school policies that Mayor Bloomberg and former Chancellor Joel Klein established, his note indicates a subtle — but meaningful — divergence. Klein considered principals the CEOs of their schools and emphasized their management responsibilities, many of which brought new paperwork requirements. Walcott's letter focuses instead on principals' role as instructional leaders. Walcott told principals he would starting working soon with their union and the groups that support them to "reduce even further the burden on your time of non-instructional tasks." Teachers and principals have complained in recent years about mounting levels of paperwork they are required to complete. A teacher who retired early in 2009 cited the mounting paperwork as a chief reason for her exit from the classroom. And research suggests that the burden of paperwork tends to fall most heavily on low-performing, high-needs schools, which compose much of the city's school system. Walcott's complete message to principals is below.