Having worked in the private sector, I can say this: my manager was expected to recruit and hire quality employees, and he was held accountable for the performance of our branch; when our branch wasn't performing, he was the first person to hear about it. He was at the top of the chain of command, he was expected to produce results, and he was expected to lead his employees in the direction to get those results. Now, if as manager, he determined that we were not meeting our performance standards, he was responsible for dealing with that situation as well. A manager with high turnover, whether it was due to an employee leaving of his own volition, or getting terminated, tended to raise a red flag with the home office, because effective recruiting and hiring was an important part of his responsibilities.
My point is this: at no time when a branch wasn't doing well did a higher level executive call our office, bypassing the manager completely to chastise the account executives; yet this is what happens in education all the time. There is a tendency to look at the principal as a figurehead who bears no real responsibility for anything taking place in his or her building. This just does not make sense. And as a parent myself, I can tell you one thing parents should be very wary of: many of the so-called "best" teachers are the ones who give every student A's. No one ever questions anything they are doing, because when grade reports come out, everyone is doing wonderfully. The parents are happy because they assume their child is getting a good education and administrators are happy because they don't have to spend time dealing with unhappy parents. Some teachers do this because they wish to be popular, and some do this because they have been given de facto permission to do so. They know that no one will question them and it is safer to operate this way than to have a conflict with a parent that may result in them being "thrown under the bus" by the administrator. Behavior problems are overlooked to avoid parental conflict, and teaching with any sort of rigor becomes a thing of the past. And the reason this goes on often boils down to one thing: weak administrators who do not wish to have the boat rocked, either because they cannot or do not want to deal with conflict.
One problem we face, I think, is that people assume they know all about teaching because they were students once. The same people who would never tell their doctor or family attorney how to do their job assume because they sat in a classroom once that they understand everything that is going on in the classroom today. I used to be one of these people; when I left the corporate world to teach school, I thought I had all of the answers. I was going to be the one to show all the old fuddy-duddy's how it was really done. It did not take me long in a real classroom to figure out that it is a much more complicated business than it appears to be to outsiders; in fact, I would argue that good teaching is more of an art than a science. You either get it, and get kids, or you don't. I realize now that one of the old fogeys I was so sure had permanently damaged my sense of self was possibly the best teacher I ever had; I also realize now that the one I liked best, that everyone liked best, including parents, was a great guy and a completely worthless instructor.
We all know there are weak leaders in every sector, but I would argue that in the case of educating children, we can't afford to leave our schools in the hands of people who don't have a clue what they are doing, in terms of instruction, of course, but also, and maybe more importantly, in terms of safety. Do you want someone in charge of your child's school who is afraid to suspend the kid who brought a knife because the knife-wielding youngster's parents are bullies? What about the principal who won't suspend the kid that threatened to kill his entire P.E. class because when she talked to the kid, the kid said he didn't really mean anything by it. How about the administrator who is too afraid to tell a parent they can't visit a classroom, so the parent goes to "observe" and tries to assault the teacher? Or, the administrator who refuses to lock the school's doors despite district policy because "a parent might get mad". These are real examples that happened in "nice" suburban schools in the city where I live.