Does the big boss really matter in big-city school districts?

School district superintendents are often nice people, but boring. They rarely have much effect on what happens in classrooms, where the most interesting and productive changes occur. But because the nation’s two largest districts, New York and Los Angeles, are looking for new superintendents, I forced myself to read a trenchant new guide for superintendent success by two scholars who think the man or woman at the top is important.

Can Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim of the University of Washington save NYC and LA from fractious politics and stopgap solutions? Probably not. But they offer enough shrewd insights to help us decide whether new superintendents in those cities and your city have any hope of progress.

Their report for the Center on Reinventing Public Education is titled “Unlocking Potential: How Political Skill Can Maximize Superintendent Effectiveness.” The authors scold superintendents who insist that they are educators rather than politicians. I agree that such people should sign up for classroom jobs and let dealmakers run their districts.

Continue reading at The Washington Post

​Originally posted on The Washington Post by Jay Mathews