School Leader Programs Face Challenges

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Two leadership programs, one for current principals and one for aspiring leaders, have been implemented by the state Education Department to cultivate school leaders and reduce turnover.

Lead 2 Succeed started in December 2015, and the second class of principals is going through the program. The curriculum teaches participants about hiring and interviewing teachers, ways to retain effective teachers once hired, and subject content, so principals can effectively evaluate teachers who teach subjects the principals may not have backgrounds in, as well as community engagement and other topics.

Although the department provided the program at no cost to school districts, it still had difficulty recruiting and graduating participants. Lead 2 Succeed requires about two days of training a month for over a year, which is a stretch for some districts.

Of the 30 people who started in the first group, 19 completed it. A second group is underway and expected to graduate this summer, and a third will begin in the fall.

The department hopes to continue the program, and scale it up by using federal funds for leadership development. The hitch: Trump’s “skinny budget” proposal eliminates the entire $2.4 billion grant program, calling it “poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.”

The other professional development program, Moving Up, started last fall with 49 participants. It was funded by a grant from the Southern Regional Education Board. Sixteen participants are from Oklahoma City Public Schools.