Program cut from federal budget designed to recruit and retain school leaders
- While President Donald Trump's budget includes $42.6 billion in new spending for the U.S. Department of the Education, spending for the School Leader Recruitment and Support program was the only one slashed, Education Week reports.
- The program, which was designed to help with recruiting, training, and retaining principals and assistant principals in high-needs school districts, received $14.5 million in 2017, but had its entire budget cut for fiscal year 2018.
- Though Zachary Scott, the senior manager of advocacy at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said he feels the School Leader Recruitment and Support program is helpful, he said his organization was pleased overall with the new education budget.
The final version of this year’s federal education budget came as a welcome relief to many educators who felt the threat of cuts to several key education programs, which critics said did not meet their intended goals. However, the only victim to the new federal education budget was the relatively small School Leader Recruitment and Support program. According to the Washington Post, the program was cut because it was determined that it “has limited impact and effectiveness and duplicates other Federal funds that may be used to support local efforts to recruit, train, and retain effective school leaders.”
The recruitment, training and retention of school leaders is an important element of school improvement, especially as research on school-related factors indicates that it is second only to teaching in its impact on student learning. The loss of this federal program does not detract from the need for high-quality school leaders, especially in schools with the most challenges. But it does mean that states and school districts will need to focus more effort on addressing these needs for themselves.
School districts that focus on the development of high-quality school leaders see improvements in academic performance. However, there are different approaches to attaining this goal. Some school districts are placing a greater emphasis on professional development, while others focus on on-the-job training with proper supports in place. It's important to look at the long-term picture and develop a principal pipeline, so that school leaders are being identified from within a district. Creating this pipeline should be a priority for all districts, with or without a federal program.