07 April 2008

Stone Supe

So I was thinking some more about the Rock Star Superintendent idea---and how many of these are coming from fields outside of education. I'm wondering if some sort of career experience within a school system should be a prerequisite for a leadership position. Or, perhaps leadership skills are exclusive of venue?

I realize that it would not be possible to expect any principal or higher up to have held multiple positions within the school system, but I can't think of a single admin who has been a bus driver, lunch lady, security guard, paraeducator, or administrative assistant. Some have coached sports or worked with co-curricular activities and clubs. Most have been classroom teachers. Is it more important for an administrator to know how to work a system...or to have a personal understanding of its constituents? How do we as teachers trust and respect a school or district leader who has no personal knowledge of what the daily work with children is actually like?

Several of the elementary principals in my morning district may give a nod to the supe in public, but otherwise there are consistent---and perhaps quite valid---grumblings about his lack of experience with both teaching and administration. (He's a military "retread," and this is his first job.) None of us are really sure if he has an interest in doing what is best for kids. There is little sense of true leadership---and much more reactionary thinking and doing. So, is he doing a poor job because of he doesn't have a deep understanding of public education...or because he doesn't know how to be a leader? If you can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk, maybe it's a bit of both.

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