Problems in Educational Administration

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The educational system will not function effectively with weak school administration. Effective administration begins with leaders who know how to motivate teachers and students. Good administrators also know how to enlist the help of the community in improving schools for all concerned. If administrators allow personal relationships or ambition to dictate their decisions, the school environment will become one of distrust. This lack of unity and teamwork will result in low student achievement.

1 Leadership

Problems in educational administration stem from lack of leadership. School administration officials are usually former teachers or principals who have worked hard to qualify for their positions and have many years of experience. But experience does not necessarily qualify one to be a leader. Educational administrators must adhere to policies, even if they do not personally agree with them. If exceptions are made, they are done so with the stated purpose of serving a higher good. Good leaders compromise without sacrificing the integrity of the system.

2 Communication

Confusion results when administrators do not have regular and open lines of communication with their teaching staff or with their superiors. Because of overwhelming responsibilities, principals tend to become less accessible, which leads to less face-to-face interaction, which is important for the teachers and students. Instead, issues usually are addressed in general meetings because of time constraints. Faculty tend to perceive that they are being preached at, instead of involved with meaningful discourse. This method if not effective with students in the classroom; administrators cannot expect that it will work with their staff.

3 Disconnect

The teach-student classroom environment is relatively sheltered. The relationship is a close one that is nurtured by everyday interaction. A disconnect can result when a similar level of familiarity between teachers, principals, and district leaders is not maintained. This causes resentfulness on the part of teachers, who perceive a lack of concern and distorted priorities on the part of their superiors. When teachers become indignant, their performance suffers along with student achievement. This disconnect will also be felt in the community if the school district is seen as an adversarial enterprise.

4 Partiality

A major problem can occur in schools when certain teachers, parents or community leaders are shown favoritism based on their degree of influence or relationships with administrators. Many times, this bias is not intentional; it is easier to placate rather than spend a lot of time in a battle of the wills with someone who is known to be vocal about his discontent or who threatens to call district and state education leaders. An effective administrator will make decisions based upon what is deemed to be best for the student and will stand firm in her position as advocate for children.

5 Politics

In schools that have elected leaders and school boards, competition and fierce ambition can cause a problem when these concerns override the main purpose of education. Principals who prefer one candidate over another may try to persuade teachers to be like-minded. Some candidates may use low test scores and high drop out rates as weapons to force current leaders out of their positions, thereby casting the district into a negative light. If communities do not see their educational leaders as people of integrity, the motivation to participate in school improvement projects is diminished, thereby negatively affecting the future of their children's education.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.