Now online: clarification of city’s new principal experience requirement

The announcement drew gasps when Chancellor Carmen Fariña made it on Wednesday night: Starting now, seven years of experience are required to become a New York City principal.

Fariña was proclaiming a sharp break from the Bloomberg years, when educators could vault quickly from the classroom to principal training programs. Bloomberg always believed that quality, not seniority, mattered in education, and he also needed hordes of new principals to stock the hundreds of new schools opened under his watch.

But exactly what Fariña meant was unclear. Did she mean that only people who have taught for seven years should be able to become principals? Or did she mean seven years in education? Or just seven years of professional experience after college, which would preclude people in their twenties from becoming city principals?

An update this week to the website of the NYC Leadership Academy, the program that since 2003 has prepared large numbers of city educators to become principals, answered the question.

Until recently, the program listed its longstanding requirement of three years of teaching experience. Now, the site says applicants must have “a minimum of 7 years as a full-time, paid, certified K-12 educator (teacher, guidance counselor, and/or administrator); 5 years of which must be full-time, paid, certified K-12 teaching experience.”

The site also says that people who already hold administrative licenses will get priority in admissions to the academy, signaling that the department will favor people with long-demonstrated aspirations to become a principal.

Even before Fariña took over the school system, the Department of Education was working to extend the runway from teacher to principal, amid criticism that principals it had minted were unprepared for the job.

The NYC Leadership Academy, a nonprofit group that the city Department of Education hires to train principals, only produced 19 new city principals in 2012. At the same time, it added an initiative to help other districts create principal training programs.