Principals association head Arieh Locker - Itzik Ben Malki - 03012012
Principals association head Arieh Locker. Photo by Itzik Ben Malki
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The School Principals Association is demanding that a secondary school reform agreement be renegotiated to allow for better work conditions for principals.

"We are not ashamed to say that the demand is economic," explained one administrator. "It is untenable that a principal, as the person who is supposed to be in charge of introducing such a complex reform in the education system, will be discriminated against in such a significant way."

According to the principals, implementing the program requires considerable work and investment for which they receive no compensation.

"Supervision, a prolonged stay at the school and the construction of a system of advancement for the teachers are required. We are not hiding the fact that at the moment we have no interest in our school becoming part of the program, when it is clear there is no pay for our work," said a principal.

The principals' demands were raised recently at a meeting the organization held with the education and finance ministries, the Secondary School Teachers Association and local authorities.

"Since the day the agreement was signed last summer, we have been warning that the school principals are getting significantly hurt," said Arieh Locker, the principal of Hadera High School and chairman of the principals association.

"We immediately contacted the head of the Teachers Association since we are represented by it and they were indeed persuaded they had made a mistake. When we looked into what is happening in the profession, we saw that in effect the teacher and the vice principle are receiving all the benefits, whereas the

principal of a school is getting a gross raise of less than NIS 200."

Locker said the result is that no teacher or vice principal would want to become a principal, taking on extra work for little extra pay.

"The dissatisfaction and the damage to us have meant that the number of schools participating in the reform is very small," he said. "We are interested in a reform that will advance the school, but not when in return for that there will be no new principals. I very much hope a way of rectifying the injustice will be found."

The Education Ministry responded that 70 schools have successfully implemented the Oz Letmura reform in full this year. "At hundreds of additional schools the first stage of the reform is under way," the ministry said. "In the context of the reform there is an addition of individual teaching hours for students and a significant pay raise for teachers. As for the matter of the pay for principals and recompense for the adjustments these were determined together with the Teachers Association in the framework of the signing of the reform. The Education Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Teachers Association have a joint team for keeping track of the implementation of the reform, in which the various issues are discussed."

Dani Fesler, the principal and managing director of The Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa, said principals are ill-compensated for the extra work they put in.

"It is impossible to create a reform without paying specific attention to the educational leadership. The principal works 24 hours a day ... he, in actuality, is the face of the school. He is the central axis that keeps the educational institution moving every day of the year and therefore the claim that he does not work as hard as the teachers is unacceptable."

Secondary School Teachers Association chairman Ron Erez says the principals' criticism is fair but stresses the reform has seen successes thus far.

"It is true that the teachers are getting more, but it must not be forgotten that they, unlike the principals, are also adding 16 hours of work," he said. "The gaps in pay are narrowing but there is no room for any comparison between the salary a teacher started with before the reform and the principal's."