Like the “Three-Tiered Licensure” system now in place for teachers, New Mexico mostly measures inputs as opposed to outputs when it comes to licensing principals. For example, New Mexico requires a master’s degree and at least six years of teaching experience before it is possible to become a principal.
Of course, being a teacher and being a principal are two completely different jobs requiring vastly different skill sets. Also, limiting the pool of potential principals reduces significantly the talent available, removes potentially excellent teachers from the classroom, and results in a distinct lack of innovative ideas and promotes a relatively homogeneous mindset.
After all, teachers have all been through schools of education, the same certification programs, and grown acclimated to teaching in today’s classrooms. The ability for innovative and visionary outsiders to bring new ideas to the schools as administrators is quite limited.
Additionally, principal pay (like that of teachers) is highly inflexible and determined by various statewide formulae based on inputs rather than outputs like student achievement. These rigid formulas and the lengthy service requirements only serve to make finding good school principals more difficult given the widely-reported, ongoing principal shortage.1
The final problem with principal licensing in New Mexico is the same overriding problem we have with the state’s teacher licensing system, which is an emphasis on inputs in the form of credentials rather than outputs in the form of more educated students.
1Jimmy Guterman, “Where have all the principals gone?: the acute school-leader shortage,” Edutopia, http://www.edutopia.org/principal-shortage