California currently has the building blocks of a strong principal preparation, recruitment and retention system, but needs the will and determination to turn these into a cohesive and sustainable system. Doing so requires quality data to understand the contours of the problem, customize and target solutions, and monitor progress. It requires investing in principal preparation as a system, not the patchwork quilt of programs and opportunities that Linda Darling-Hammond has so aptly described as “random acts of professional development.” Such investments, in turn, require sustaining infrastructure so that the gains that accrue incrementally from these investments are not lost with budget cuts.
The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning sees an inextricable link between the quality of California’s principals and the quality of teaching in our public schools. Work already done to document the status of and strengthen the state’s teacher workforce creates a viable model for developing a system of principal preparation and ongoing professional development — one that is based on the premise that every California student deserves not only a fully prepared, effective teacher in every classroom, but also a fully prepared, effective and supported principal in every school.