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The Pain Outweighs the Gain: Why Teachers Don't Want to Become Principals


by Aimee Howley, Solange Andrianaivo & Jessica Perry — 2005

U.S. schools are facing a crisis of leadership because many school districts are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit new principals. Whereas teachers represent the group from which the largest number of new principals is likely to be drawn, fewer and fewer of them now seem willing to seek administrative positions. Understanding their perspectives provides an important basis for addressing critical shortages. Using survey data from a large Ohio sample, the present study examined the views of teachers with regard to what are commonly perceived as incentives and disincentives associated with the principalship. It also explored the characteristics of teachers that make them more and less receptive to the idea of seeking leadership positions. Results showed that, in general, teachers view the disincentives associated with the principalship as more potent than the incentives. Variables that were significantly associated with the view that the principalship was "worth it" (i.e., that the incentives outweighed the disincentives) included gender (i.e., maleness), administrative licensure, and the tendency to value the practice whereby school leaders groom teachers for leadership positions.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 4, 2005, p. 757-782
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11819, Date Accessed: 12/12/2017 12:50:53 PM

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About the Author
  • Aimee Howley
    Ohio University
    E-mail Author
    AIMEE HOWLEY is a professor in the Educational Studies Department at Ohio University, where she coordinates the educational administration program. Her research focuses primarily on the ramifications of educational policy for rural schools and communities. Recent publications include “Tried and True: The Rural School Curriculum in the Age of Accountability” (Educational Forum, 2003) and, with Kristine Chadwick and Caitlin Howley, “Networking for the Nuts and Bolts: The Ironies of Professional Development for Rural Principals” (Journal of Research in Rural Education, 2002).
  • Solange Andrianaivo
    Ohio University
    SOLANGE ANDRIANAIVO is an exchange student from Madagascar, where she worked for the Ministry of Education as an English teacher, a resource center manager, and a teacher educator. Under the sponsorship of the American Association of University Women, she is currently pursuing doctoral study in educational administration at Ohio University. Her research interests are gender issues and the impact of cultural disparities on access to education.
  • Jessica Perry
    Ohio University
    JESSICA PERRY is a senior at Ohio University working toward her bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminology. She anticipates continuing her studies by attending graduate school in the near future. Her research interests include the sociology of education, social stigma and stratification, and the American corrections system.
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