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Your Views

May 31, 2022


Letters to the editor

Principals in teachers’ bargaining unit an awkward fit

Re. May 10 editorial: “Principals will be UCP’s next targets.” I taught under both systems — 18 years where the principal was not a teacher (not in teachers’ bargaining unit) and 16 years where the principal was in the teachers’ bargaining unit. I found the former to be more realistic.

Eamonn O’Sullivan, Cochrane

If principals go, outcomes will suffer

After reading your editorial in the latest ATA News (May 10: “Principals will be UCP’s next targets”), I felt compelled to add my two cents’ worth.

I began my teaching career in 1971 in the village of Chipman, where a K–9 school was operating. Eight years later I became the principal, teaching 50 per cent of the time and with no assistant administrator. In 1989, I assumed the position of principal at Mundare (K–12), teaching 25 per cent and with an assistant principal. In 1997, with the closure of the junior/senior program, I returned to the classroom at Vegreville Composite (7–12), where the principal taught one course.

I have always believed that the principal is the instructional leader in the school, setting an example of positive leadership and excellent teaching methodology. I also believe that a principal should be in the classroom as a teacher so that they can see first-hand what teachers face every day, and in a small school this probably happens because of tight staff allocations.

Unfortunately, in the large schools, the principal becomes more of a manager than an instructional leader, rarely stepping into the classrooms. I wish that every board had a policy where school administrators were required to actively teach at least one course so they could see what challenges the regular classroom teacher meets.

Should principals be taken out of the ATA, I fear that there will be a breakdown in the close relationship between administration and teaching staff, and a them–us mentality will destroy unity within the schools. A principal will be seen as a “boss,” not an educational leader. The primary focus of the principal will be on the financial well-being of the school and meeting the political demands of the school boards and not necessarily on the instructional excellence our students deserve. This will not result in positive outcomes in the schools.

Sylvia Zacharkiw



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