Newsmaker: Retiring AASA Chief Paul Houston

By Glenn Cook

Paul Houston started his education career as a “wayward English major,” became a principal by age 25, and hasn’t looked back much since.

But, on the eve of his final conference as executive director of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Houston took some time to reflect on his 40-plus year career in education and the organization he has served since 1994.

“I’ve got one of the best jobs in education, but just because it’s wonderful doesn’t mean you don’t hang on to it by your fingernails,” Houston said during an interview with Editor-in-Chief Glenn Cook. “Since I became a principal when I was 25, I have actually been in charge for the last 38 years. And when you are in charge that long, at some point you have the desire to stop being in charge.”

Always candid, whether discussing the No Child Left Behind Act, his experience as superintendent in three large school systems (Princeton, N.J.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Riverside, Calif.), or how education has evolved over the past 40 years, Houston said the time is right to retire. He leaves June 30.

“In some ways it feels good because I did it thoughtfully. I didn’t do a spur-of-the-moment thing,” he said. “I’m leaving the organization in a good place, but it got to the point where there were things I wanted to do that I can’t in this position. And when you get to that point, it’s time to move on.”

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