The School Administrator


June 2009 Number 6 Vol. 66Life-Changing TitlesNine leaders' reflections on books that made a difference


  • Books That Made a Difference (And Still Do)

    Nine reflections by education leaders on a book whose message continues to resonate: John L. Barry on Future Shock; Jean-Claude Brizard on Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done; Thomas Fowler-Finn on Don’t Think of an Elephant!; Michael A. Haynes on Tongue Fu!; Emilie M. Lonardi on A Whole New Mind; Nancy J. McGinley on The Leadership Moment; Thomas L. Rogers on Leadership Without Easy Answers; Joshua P. Starr on The Fire Next Time; and Tim Waters on Learned Optimism.

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  • Book Discussion Groups

    by Marian Kisch

    In central offices nationwide, common reading among school leaders can launch novel ways of thinking about educating children or serve as a launching pad to initiate important changes. Reading groups of administrators are delving into a range of literature.

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  • Changing Peer Support for Superintendents

    by Lee Teitel

    Tired of seeing so many superintendents struggle in their challenging jobs, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents wanted to test a better form of peer support. Today, in a major cultural change, dozens of superintendents in small groups share real problems, improve their practice and learn from each other through consultation and group problem solving.

    Similar Reading: Connecting to the Messy Reality and My Superintendent Cohort Asks

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  • Superintendents on a Courageous Journey

    by Patricia L. Reeves

    Via the use of three-year cohorts, Michigan’s mid-career professional credentialing is building shared practice and personal growth. Superintendents are creating portfolios of their best work, tracking their own development, documenting systemic change initiatives and compiling evidence of impact.

    Similar Reading: My Personal Journey and Permeating the Culture of a State Association

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    Confident of a Good Deal, Even With Risks by Jay P. Goldman

    In Independence, Mo., Jim L. Hinson ventured into turbulent waters by annexing eight schools from a neighboring district.

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    Punchback: Answering Critics

    The Neovoucher: A Kissing Cousin in Disguise by Kevin G. Welner

    Beware, says the author, of a new form of tax credit vouchers. A taxpayer donates money to a private religious-affiliated organization, which then bundles the donations and issues them to parents as vouchers to pay tuition at nonpublic schools. The donor then receives all or part of the money back as a tax credit.

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    Guest Column

    The Invisible Roadblock of Attendance Laws by Meria Joel Carstarphen

    Raising compulsory attendance from the age of 16 is about closing a loophole that makes it too easy for students to drop out. Twenty-six states still allow children to drop out of school at that age, says the author, a superintendent.

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    Comprehensive Support for Remedying a Disconnect by Howard S. Adelman and Linda Taylor

    When working with school leaders, the authors often hear: “We coordinate what we have and connect with some community services. Isn’t that a comprehensive approach?” Focusing only on what is doesn’t get schools to what is needed in K-12 education.

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    Spring brings plenty of career moves. Plus, the Sidelight shines on a superintendent who paces the parallels between his job and marathon running.

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    Board-Savvy Superintendent

    Finding Visible Roles for Your President by Doug Eadie

    Building and maintaining a close, positive and productive working relationship with the school board president, a pre-eminent stakeholder, is vital for every superintendent. The board president should be a partner and advocate, rather than just a passive bystander or, worse, an adversary.

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    President’s Corner

    Final Reflections by Randall H. Collins

    In his final column, AASA’s president identifies the uneasiness and the optimism he has experienced during his 12 months of service.

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    Executive Perspective

    A Return to Meaningful Assessment by Daniel A. Domenech

    AASA’s executive director buys into policy analyst Richard Rothstein’s argument that the broader, richer goals of education have been cast aside in favor of improved scores on tests of basic skills in reading and math.

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    Systems Thinking

    Transformation Through the Storm’s Eye by Rhonda Neal-Waltman

    Four years before Hurricane Katrina delivered a blow, Mobile County, Ala., set a trajectory for major systemic change when the community voted for the first property tax increase in almost 50 years. It was a “Yes, but …” vote, and the “but” meant school leaders had to change how they did business.

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