President's Corner

Conference to Focus on Leadership, Youth

by DANIEL A. DOMENECH, president, AASA

The future is now! Today's juniors in high school will graduate in the year 2000. Today's kindergartners will graduate in 2011.

Change is accelerating. Expectations are rising. These are exciting and challenging times.

It is against this backdrop that the 131st annual AASA National Conference on Education will bring together thousands of America’s most thoughtful education leaders, Feb. 19-22, in New Orleans. Each and every one of these leaders is intent on giving our children an even better chance for success in the new century and new millennium.

A virtual cavalcade of outstanding conference programs includes speakers such as Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, author Wayne Dyer, pioneer astronaut Mae Jemison and noted economist Paul Krugman.

You'll have an opportunity to hear results of our year-long study devoted to Preparing Schools and School Systems for the 21st Century. That study involved a distinguished Council of 21, whose honorary chair is John Glenn. During the national conference, you’ll hear a review of characteristics of schools and school systems capable of preparing students for a global knowledge/information age.

In addition, other major focus points during the conference include: improving the condition of children and youth; connecting schools, school systems and communities; and enhancing the effectiveness of school leaders.

Special strands of programs will address helping all students become high achievers in our increasingly diverse society; dealing with violence and crisis communication; gearing up for technology; preparing school facilities for the future; becoming a superintendent of education; and bringing balance into your life. Among the many issues that will be addressed are parent involvement in decision making, charter schools, standards and assessments and federal initiatives that affect schools.

That’s not all. Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute will headline our Federal Relations Luncheon. You’ll have an opportunity to gain insights from 1998 National Superintendent of the Year Barbara Grohe of Iowa City, Iowa, and join in honoring our 1999 honoree. Also with us will be National Teacher of the Year Phil Bigler, who just happens to be from Fairfax County, Va., and we are very proud of him.

Partners of school leaders have a chance to enjoy special programs developed just for them. On top of that, you’ll be able to comparison shop in one of the largest exhibitions of school products and services in the world.

The AASA program and exhibition will be outstanding, and you'll want to take in every minute of them. At the same time, keep in mind that the national conference provides a great opportunity for you to build your network. Between sessions or over a meal, the conference buzzes with conversation as people who face common challenges share their insights one-on-one. In some communities, superintendents discuss what they've learned at the national conference with members of the board and staff. Others present highlights in columns they prepare for the local newspaper. A point we all need to make is that we are leaders of education organizations. Therefore, it is important to our students and our communities to demonstrate that we, too, are constantly learning.

Lori and I look forward to greeting you at the President’s Reception.

If you have not already registered, call 703-875-0748 or plan to register on-site at the New Orleans Convention Center.

We'll see you in New Orleans!

Daniel Domenech is president of AASA.