From the President Why Do You Lead? What constitutes effective leaders remains a debatable paramount issue across all sections in the education arena. Is it reaching student growth targets, balancing budgets, creating safe environments for learning, and/ or reaching other established goals and targets that are components of this definition? School boards, teachers, parents, policymakers, superintendents, principals, and the community all vary on their description of effective and efficient leadership. Although the need for effective education leaders is constant, the pressure for results in various areas is episodic. More than at any time in history, education leaders are pressured by policymakers, school boards, governments, parents, and the community to demonstrate success despite ever-changing policies, assessment programs, cut scores, and accountability targets. In terms of accountability, Bredeson and Kose (2007) describe it as a governance shift from local to state. Superintendents need a particular set of transitional leadership skills for negotiating the sometimes chaotic and often uneven terrain of internal and external accountability systems within volatile and often times uncertain education reform environments. In Bredeson and Kose’s study, two sets of questionnaires and structured interviews were performed 10 years apart to create emerging data. The results indicate there is a mismatch between what leaders are interested in focusing on (curriculum and instructions) and the realities of the system (budget manage-ment and other daily tasks). The public expects performance from leaders on improving student outcomes. Over the years, the role of education leaders has changed dramatically. The responsibility for education 8 MASA LEADER • Fall 2016 leaders has shifted over time. And although they are held accountable for student results, many superintendents find that the actual day-to-day activities are far from the role they need to play to yield an acceptable increase in student achievement. Student achievement and acquisition of standards shape the requirements and criteria of leaders in school systems. Leaders are required to implement major school policy and education reform agendas that are centered on an unbalanced scale of snapshot data. Fullan (2009) reviews the history of large-scale education reform and makes the case that those large-scale or whole system reform policies and strategies are becoming increasingly evident. Fullan writes about some specific cases of whole system reform in which progress in student achievement was evident. In 2003-2009, an expansion of the number of systems engaged in what he calls tri-level reform—school/district/government in countries outside of the US. It appears that closer to home, the presence of a “policy without a strategy” (Fullan, 2009) often appears on the doorstep of superintendents. As large reform policies are developed, the implementation of complex voluminous policy reform needs to be managed by education leaders. As policy is developed to affect the education outcomes, policy implementation is an area that needs attention. Firestone (1989) argues that an examination of school district leadership would help policymakers understand whether reforms were viewed as opportunities or constraints. So why do you lead? You lead because your leadership is critical for the success of your organization. And because, notwith-standing the changes, pressures and complexities, you are darn good at it! By Sue C. Carnell MASA 2015–16 President Sue C. Carnell is Superintendent of the Westwood Community School District. She can be reached at 313.565.3864 or email@example.com.
MASA Leader - Fall 2016
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