A School Leader's Journey
In Uganda, I learned about real poverty. After I finished teaching my physics class of 120 girls, one student begged me to adopt her. I had to tell her “No.” In effect, I was telling her I was going back to my rich American life, and she was going to continue struggling just to survive.
Tending the Board-Superintendent Relationship
It takes two to do the partnership tango. At the heart of every solid board-CEO working relationship, including school boards and their superintendents, is a CEO who is truly “board-savvy.” If you are looking for a new superintendent, you can make board-savvy characteristics part of your search criteria.
Dec ember 2009
The First Year
Barack Obama is embarking on perhaps the biggest expansion ever of the federal role in public schools. Will his administration be successful? ASBJ puts that question, and several others, to education authorities Anne Bryant, Beverly L. Hall, Eric Hanushek, Frederick Hess, Jack Jennings, Diane Ravitch, and Andrew J. Rotherham.
Finding Non-Traditional Leaders in Your Community
Education involves much more than just classroom activities. Taking advantage of community resources like Virginia Jacko, CEO of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who have inspiring and instructional stories to tell, is one way to enrich the educational experience in your district.
E-rate Tips for School Boards
E-rate allows rural and low-income school districts and libraries to purchase Internet access and other telecommunications services at discounted rates. However, to truly get all the benefits from the program, you need a long-term strategy. Use your district’s technology plan as the basis for your E-rate funding requests.
Curriculum Mistakes to Avoid
I’ve always loved twice-baked potatoes, especially when they’re covered with cheese. But I hate twice-made policy mistakes. When a board establishes flawed policies, children end up being taught less well than they should. What’s distinctive about these six policy mistakes is that history emphatically proves all of them are misguided.
Tips for Your Board Planning Retreat
Rigorously following four golden rules will ensure that your retreat pays off handsomely for your organization: Make sure that your board puts together a detailed retreat design; employ a professional facilitator; use breakout groups to generate active participation; and avoid reaching premature consensus or final decisions.
Creating Successful School-Business Partnerships
The promise of collaboration remains sweeter than ever. In this climate of dwindling resources and increasing expectations, educational partnerships are on the radar. Programs and resources needed to fulfill our respective missions can be found just next door. But creating good partnerships is harder than it looks -- and getting harder.
Becoming an Effective School Budget Steward
School boards all over the country have found their participation in preparing their district’s annual operating plan/budget to be an extremely frustrating experience, leading to the kind of dissatisfaction and irritation that can seriously erode the board-superintendent-senior administrator partnership. This need not be the case.
Putting the Teamwork in Leadership Team
No school board can go it alone in the governing game. Governing really is a team sport. If you build a cohesive strategic governing team in your district, you are much more likely to be a well-governed educational enterprise that is guided by a clear strategic vision and long-range goals.
What You Need to Know From the Lighthouse Project
Can all school boards become more like those in districts with high achievement? Boards in these districts set clear expectations and create conditions for success, hold themselves and district staff accountable for meeting expectations, motivate staff and community to improve student learning, and learn together as a team.
Tales of a Minority Administrator
Increasing administrative diversity is fundamentally beneficial to the district, students, and community. It can also address student diversity and, perhaps, the achievement gap. Ethnicity can only enhance leadership skills and contributions to the well-being of a school community. These leadership qualities will enable minority administrators to succeed in predominantly Caucasian schools.
On-the-Job Training for Administrators
Very little can prepare you for the rigors of becoming a school leader. But if veteran administrators and school board members can exercise empathy, patience, and understanding while providing guidance in a positive mentoring environment, a new administrator can be successful.
Corporate boards should emulate school boards
Back in the 1980s, one of the wrong-headed proposals to improve public schools was to “reform” school boards by recasting them in the image of private corporate boards. The current recession suggests that we all would be better off now if corporate boards had acted like school boards.
Your First 90 Days on the School Board
Just how do you ‘hit the ground running’ and become as effective a school board member as you can, as quickly as you can? You can make a good start in your first 90 days. That’s when you lay the groundwork for effective board tenure
School Board Training and Development
The better educated and trained school board members are in the work of governing, the more likely they are to perform at a high level. So every board that is committed to high-impact governing must also be committed to its own continuing education.
School Boards and Community Engagment
Schools can make or break a community. Schools are about the future. Schools build strong foundations upon which to build strong communities. As leaders in your community’s education system, as a catalyst for community excellence -- how are you doing?
ASBJ Interviews Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan calls the economic stimulus package “a staggering opportunity” for schools, a phrase that also could describe his role as the new U.S. Secretary of Education. Duncan is arguably the most powerful education secretary in history, with more than $100 billion at his disposal to improve the nation’s schools.
Talking with Superintendent MaryEllen Elia
Florida’s Hillsborough County Public Schools is one of the 10 largest school districts in the United States. Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, draws on a deep reservoir of educational experience in carrying out her CEO responsibilities. In this column, she discusses her partnership with the district’s seven-member board of education.
Board Climate Matters
A board’s culture reflects the beliefs, principles, and attitudes about working together in the governing enterprise. When a board culture is described as “dysfunctional,” it usually means that the governing process is either highly adversarial and/or characterized by uncivil interactions, and it almost always takes a tremendous toll over time.
Hire a Change Agent; Prepare for Change
“We want a superintendent who can think out of the box.” Usually, this phrase means that people want change, they want a leader that will produce it, and they will buy into the new vision and march forward. Not exactly. The only person who likes change is a wet baby.
Tips for Evaluating Your Superintendent
Accountability is education’s watchword. Charts, graphs, comparables, power standards, and key indicators assess the performance of schools, students, and programs. But what about the superintendent’s performance? Can leadership be reduced to a set of numbers? Certainly, superintendents are accountable. The question is, “For what?”
Rebounding from Leadership Crisis
The rule of democracy makes it possible for any candidate, despite personal political agendas, to secure the influential role of a school trustee. In most cases, a vigorous public process keeps the system in check, but in some situations the emergence of special interest “activist” boards can devastate a community.
Dysfunctional School Boards
For much of 2008, Clayton County was a poster child for school governance “gone bad.” Its bickering made national headlines. Members so frequently violated state ethics and open meeting laws that their attorney quit in frustration. Ultimately, the district’s accreditation was removed – a penalty not exercised in almost 40 years.
Community-Savvy Board Governance
Taking the time and trouble to educate community members on the critical governing work your school board does and the importance of attracting qualified people to run for election will yield a powerful return to your community. It can be done without compromising your independence or miring you in politics.
Bringing Outside Groups to the Board Table
Creative stakeholder relations management should be a high-priority concern of every school board, and especially of your board’s external or community relations committee. External stakeholder relations often are neglected. This has a potentially steep cost in terms of inadequate community understanding and support for the district.