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School teachers in charge? Why some schools are forgoing principals.

Amid the push for accountability, one rising trend puts school teachers, rather than principals, at the helm of schools.

Teacher and school cofounder Lori Nazareno worked with students Aug. 24 at the Math and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) in Denver, Colo., a school run by its teachers.

Barbara Colombo/Special to The Christian Science Monitor

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A school without a principal? It's becoming more common as innovative teacher-led public schools crop up in the United States.

Detroit's Palmer Park Preparatory Academy opens for students in pre-K to fourth-grade this fall. Boston and Denver each started a school last year run by union teachers. And in Minneapolis, the school board recently gave a group of teachers permission to launch their own French-immersion school in 2011.

The idea has gained currency as debates rage over the best ways to ensure that teachers can bring up student achievement. The drumbeat of "teacher accountability" is getting louder – with everyone from President Obama to district leaders calling for teachers to meet high standards or risk being removed.

In response, more teachers are standing up to say, "Fine. Hold us accountable. But let us do it our way."

While each teacher-led school is unique, the shared decisionmaking is what defines them. The teachers' participation tends to create a culture quite different from that in a traditional principal-led school: Teachers can't hide behind the classroom door or complain about policies, because they have to come up with solutions.


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