New measures and incentives to put principals in charge for once

” It’s been some time since a crafty nonentity demanded respect because he had managed to climb his way into some post. From now on, teachers will be judged, leaders will be monitored and parents will have to prove worthy of their role. The notion that once you’ve arrived, you don’t have to worry about anything, is history.» Deputy Education Minister Nikos Gesoulis described the situation in Greek schools with this excerpt from a book by Angelos Terzakis, itself included in a book taught in the third year of senior high school. A public servant mentality and a lack of dedication and vision typify a large proportion of school leaders and teachers. Now the ministry has stressed the need for school regulations to be followed. It also plans to upgrade the role of principal – starting with the next school year – since their clearly devalued post has given state schools a poor image. Principals tend to be teachers at the end of their careers, who may have no vision or ambition, and who take up the position without being given any incentives or any real power. The bonus for a school director is just 30 euros a month. So in most cases, those who apply for the job are teachers who want to end their career honorably, or who are forced to accept the job. In both cases, the outcome is disastrous: tired, bored teachers who pass on their responsibilities to younger colleagues, who show a total lack of interest in what is happening at the school, who neglect their duties and keep their doors closed to teachers, pupils and parents alike. The only work some of them do is to draw up the schedule of the other teachers, and leave the school to be run «thanks to the patriotism of a few,» said Gesoulis. Who checks whether teachers are doing their jobs properly, takes immediate action to solve any problems, and oversees the operation of a school? «In recent years, administration has been very slack in state schools, which has caused them to stagnate. Teachers shouldn’t expect to take it easy and be idle in the post of principal. Some of them thought that supervising the school was a matter for their discretion,» said the deputy minister. The absence of any real leader who was interested in the organization of school work and able to meet the needs of teachers and other staff is what has led the ministry to upgrade the role of principal. «We don’t want principals who do the job of doorkeepers. They must have planning and coordination skills, and that’s why we have provided economic incentives and real responsibilities so they can carry out the task of administration, organization, teaching and developing the school,» noted Gesoulis. From July 2002, the ministry plans to pay teaching staff a monthly bonus for non-teaching activities that will range from 295 euros at primary and junior high school level to 352 euros at senior high school level. Enhancing the prestige of school principals through assigning them greater responsibility for control and supervision of school activities, combined with an assessment procedure (the director will evaluate teachers and be evaluated by a supervisor and the school council), will help revive state schools. «Greek children are entitled to better education. Any teacher, staff member or parent who undermines these moves does so at the expense of society’s development. Fortunately, Terzakis’s timeless values are taught at school. Unfortunately, there is a question to what extent we educationalists succeed in carrying out those fine ideas which Terzakis describes and we – theoretically – teach in school; to what extent we manage to consolidate them in practice, make them a daily experience and include them in the culture of Greek society,» Gesoulis said. Roadworks