President's Corner

Excellence, Goodness, Justice ... A Foundation for Education

by Karl V. Hertz


In the 15th century, Benedict said, "Temper all things, that the strong may have something to long for and the weak may not draw back in alarm." Today, on a planet heaving under the weight of many more people than Benedict could ever have imagined, that admonition still rings true. In fact, our future may depend on our ability as school leaders to strengthen all, not just the chosen few.

The superintendency provides us with an outstanding chance to have an enormous impact on the lives of people and communities. However, as the needs of people and communities become even more urgent and as demands on our time grow geometrically, we must avoid being consumed by the day-to-day and oh-so-real problems confronting us.

As leaders, we need a solid philosophy to guide us. Each of us should be driven by the truly high calling that our profession represents. That is why I have chosen as the theme for my year as AASA president "Excellence, Goodness, Justice ... A Foundation for Education."

As we move toward a new school year, I respectfully ask you to focus on academic excellence for our students. I also ask that you promote ways that all educators can model and demonstrate goodness for our kids and urge you to work for a just society, which will truly provide a good setting for all of our children.

It is my sincere hope that as individuals and as a leadership organization we will all find the strength and the conviction to push our society to care for its children, in the school, and even in the streets. Please help our society to think seriously about whether it is making paupers of our kids. Talk about children with compassion, and urge your community to exhibit a sense of loyalty to young people.

These are not times for the fainthearted. We must boldly ask for the resources we need to get the job done and push for a social contract that will sustain our democracy. We should not hesitate to pursue societal initiatives that contribute to the common good. At the same time, we must demonstrate and communicate to our communities and the world that there is dignity in education. Each of us is engaged in a very high calling.

Of course, we must attain a higher level of excellence. Of course, we should not waste money. Of course, we must be sensitive to the needs of business. Of course, we must jolt ourselves into believing that our wonderful students are capable of much more than we ask of them. However, as superintendents, as professionals in many leadership positions in our schools, as board members, as professors, as people who simply care about kids, we can do more. Let's start by calling our communities to an even more noble level of commitment to our children.

When William Faulkner's daughter finished high school, the author told her, "Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and compassion against injustice and lying and greed." We should expect no less from those of us who watch over our children.

I am grateful to the members of the American Association of School Administrators for giving me the privilege of serving as president of this respected organization. Also, I know you join me in expressing appreciation to Don Thompson for his leadership as president during the past year.

Karl Hertz is president of AASA.