President's Corner

The End of a Wonderful Opportunity

by Karl V. Hertz

Since this is my last President’s Corner column, it is appropriate to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity to serve as president of the American Association of School Administrators. Like so many of life’s occasions, this past year has been a time to learn, grow and offer encouragement.

My thanks are extended to my colleagues on the Executive Committee who have been striving mightily to nurture and transform AASA into an organization positioned for the new century. The staff has been very supportive as we have focused on advocacy for our children through goodness, excellence and justice for our students and our appreciation goes to these fine people. Please let me thank the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, its director Miles Turner and all the fine people in Wisconsin who have been such a wonderful support.

To my wife Carol, I can only say, "Thanks love." We wish Dan Domenech, who will become AASA president July 1 and his wife Lori the very best during the coming year.

It is said that advocacy for justice never comes cost free and reformers are seldom universally loved. Please let me urge school administrators to take up the cause of children, especially our poor kids, because that cause is the mantle that distinguishes the truly dedicated educator.

This year it has been exciting to work on children’s issues, including Judge Charles Gill’s initiative to have a constitutional amendment for children’s rights. We have also worked on issues relating to the implementation of the new AASA election process, AASA’s initiative to draw the state associations and AASA closer together, the encouragement and realization of partnerships with businesses, the realization of a reconfiguring of the trusteeship of the building and the emergence of the Learning First Alliance from the Forum of Educational Organization Leaders.

It has been heartening to see the financial condition of AASA continue to improve and, in some modest ways, help to open the door to future practices that may continue thoughtful expenditures.

We are pleased to be able to expand and revise our publications, to see the advent of the Web site and its rapid development and to be a part of our National Conference in San Diego, which seemed to be so well received.

Of course, there is plenty left to do. We must do better on membership. This year we did well on getting new members, but our total numbers have not gone up. The mechanics of retaining members will receive our attention in Arlington, and we need all of you to urge aspiring superintendents to join us and to help them in any way you can with the cost.

It is fascinating that almost all the issues with which we are dealing are likely to flow through a period of years. For instance, there is a person who would like to buy our building, but such issues move slowly.

Our lives as school administrators tend to be driven toward implementation and business management issues. However, the true challenge for us is always to retain credibility to be a force on behalf of children and to be seen always as having a noble vision in mind. In a sense, every sentence we utter and every act we undertake is part of the moral witness of our lives to be observed by the children we struggle to raise and to teach. In many ways this is equally true of our impact on adults.

Henry James said it well: "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." All the very best to each and every one of you!