Spotlight

About the 21st Century Consortium

The 21st Century Consortium, whose work served as a catalyst for the accompanying article, started in 2007 when several superintendents met at the AASA national conference in New Orleans to discuss issues of common interest. Since then, this group of seven school district leaders has met twice a year, with a focus on preparing students for postsecondary success.

We’ve also taken on issues such as secondary school math scope and sequence, elementary textbook adoptions, improving writing skills among students and effective practices in professional learning.

Our meetings offer a chance for us to share frustrations and successes in a more collegial way, without the potential competitiveness and familiarity that often come in more locally based groups of education leaders. Because the participating districts are located in different states, the discussions transcend state regulations and testing regimes. Besides the set agenda, we also carve out time to gain counsel on enduring issues around governance, communication, maximizing employee performance and leadership challenges.

In addition to the superintendents, other leaders, including principals, join us, when appropriate, for our meetings. Invariably, the sessions conclude with comments from members that our time together is their most valuable professional development activity.

The 21st Century Consortium consists of the superintendents from these seven districts: Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto, Calif.; Wilton School District, Wilton, Conn.; Highland Park Independent School District, Dallas, Texas; Eanes Independent School District, Austin, Texas; Ladue School District, St. Louis, Mo.; Westside Community Schools, Omaha, Neb.; and New Trier School District, Winnetka, Ill.

— Kevin Skelly and Scott Laurence