Texas lead 'em

They say everything's bigger in Texas. And now, that adage is starting to apply to education expectations, too. Dallas's Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has redefined the role of the principal to involve less paper pushing, more academic oversight, and creative problem-solving. Principals will be required to spend at least two days a week observing classes in their schools, and to put in 10 extra working days to learn the district's curriculum and analyze school test scores. Importantly, the district is also revamping how it hires school leaders. Deputy Superintendent Steve Flores said, "A standard résumé really no longer gets your foot in the door." Candidates must "audition" to show they can attack complex challenges effectively and creatively--after being given a school's academic and budget data before job interviews, they must diagnose the problems and outline a plan for fixing them. And for principals whose schools meet academic targets, performance bonuses of up to $10,000 are in the cards. In an age when success seems to derive less from administration than innovation, Dallas is right to ask its school leaders to rise to the occasion.

"DISD principals ordered to change their ways," by Kent Fischer, Dallas Morning News, January 7, 2007