Restructuring and reforms of school programs clearly are becoming the challenge for American educators for the 1990s. But not everyone agrees on who should lead these systemic change efforts. Legislators and departments of education (both federal and state), professional organizations, and the courts are some of the significant players in determining new directions. However, most participants in the process agree that until the vision for change exists at the school level, nothing will happen to improve schooling for America's children. Thus, school principals and leaders may have the most important responsibility of all.
Historically, the headmaster (or principal) was primarily responsible for deciding what was taught, by whom, and for whom. Early principals also were charged with maintaining the physical and social environment of the school, keeping it suitable for the important task of teaching the young. Recordkeeping, resource management, and discipline were added responsibilities as schools grew and society's demands changed.
Today, principals need to reclaim their significant role in managing "the instructional system" in a school. This system includes the curriculum, the delivery of instruction, and the assessment of learning. The actions needed to fulfill this complex role include the following: