Brown’s starting point in understanding the p-p model is the 1991 JSEA study. According to Brown, central to this study is the business model and the assumption that schools could benefit from “modeling the business world” (p.2) This modeling consists chiefly in the identification of the president of a Catholic school with the CEO of a company and the principal of a Catholic school with the COO. This synonymity is so clear that Brown uses “CEO” and “COO” in lieu of “president” and “principal.” For example:
“. . . when the [p-p] model did not work, the reason was directly related to the relationship between the CEO and the COO.” (p. 4)
This assumption of the business model into the p-p model reaches a new thoroughness under the heading “The Need for Accountability.” Here Brown identifies the benefits of a “customer-based approach to the parents and students” of Catholic schools:
“Keeping parents and student “happy” is viewed as a way to keep enrollments up. As part of this marketing approach, customer satisfaction became an important element in the day-to-day operations of a [Catholic] school.” (p. 15)
Finally, Brown sees the role of business so prominently in the p-p model that he even suggests: “When hiring, schools might seek presidential candidates from those whom do not come from the same academic area, but rather from the business arena.” This kind of mentality is directly challenged by Heft (2005): “More and more presidents are recruited from a variety of backgrounds, including, more frequently, from the business world. When one combines a model that addresses market preoccupations with people who come from business backgrounds—one may end up with the sort of situation that now exists at a number of Catholic colleges and universities. You have a person with great business acumen, but without an equal grasp of the religious and intellectual mission of the institute. If that board chooses a president with a background similar to its own, then needed leadership on the original mission of the institution can be weak.”
Heft concludes his essay on Catholic identity and the p-p model by warning principals and presidents, that the business model alone might balance a budget but a balanced budget does not make a school Catholic. “A balanced budget is, as a philosopher might put it, a necessary but not sufficient condition for reaching our mission. But at this point in our history, I believe we need to be careful that while the market-driven shift to a president/principal model is taking effective care of some important financial-managerial issues, it may also have obscured some of the responsibility we have for the Catholic character and quality of our schools.” This is another area I might consider in my research – what is the perceived effect (on the part of parents, faculty, staff, secondary administrators and directors) of the president’s commitment to a CEO-COO/market/business conception of his or her role and the Catholic identity of the school? In other words, could it be that the more “market-driven” and CEO-emulating a president, the lower the Catholic identity of the school?
To shift gears and focus on the central question of Brown’s dissertation, it is interesting that the only really significant findings were in Brown’s Review of Literature rather than in his own research. The biggest problem for Brown seems to be the small size of his population. In the end “there were no significant personality types for the presidents or the principals” and “there were no significant patterns or match of personalities between the president and the principal.” His findings do suggest some intriguing and confusing possibilities for future research, however:
1. “the more able the principal is at expressing his or her emotions, the greater number of morale issues are present in the school.”
2. “schools with higher SAT scores have introverted presidents”
3. “The president who is more extroverted has a school that is more task- and achievement-oriented. This makes logical sense. Extroverted leadership encourages experimentation and innovation.”
4. “‘thinking’ presidents have more resource-supported schools”
5. “Those principals who are more “feeling” provide more resource support to their school and have better morale in their school.”
The relevant theme of Brown’s qualitative research is a high level of confusion over the role of the president. A typical response from teachers is: “I don’t know what the president does all day long. The principal is in the building and I can see what he does.” One might imagine the p-p relationship being compromised because a major part of the school community – the faculty – doesn’t know the roles of each and the “why” and “how” of fulfilling these roles. I’ll be sure to include a question about this in my interviews.