February 2023: School Administrator
Where’s the Affirming Vision for Public Education?
In a polarized time, no individuals are better positioned than superintendents for promoting a community’s broader mission of schooling beyond standardized test scores. The author is vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of its Education & Society Program.
Building Relationships, Building Trust
A new superintendent in Minnesota, facing a major budget shortfall during the pandemic, details the journey he plotted to increase community support.
Racial Makeup of Superintendency
A 10-year comparison of those identifying as non-white.
The Wisecrack Better Left Unsaid
Our panel analyzes whether a superintendent should discipline two administrators who laughed at a sexist joke during a staff meeting.
Administering Naloxone as a School Service
Know your state laws and medical protocols before equipping staff to deal with drug overdoses.
A Reliable Bulwark Against Board Micro-Management
Three key elements for generating meaningful engagement with school board members.
The Joyous Benefit of My Blogging
A district administrator articulates the satisfaction of sharing her professional experiences through her personal blog.
Living With Histories We Do Not Know
Understanding America’s racial past is important before we can move forward with truly integrated schools.
A Perspective on Work When Life’s on the Line
A superintendent on regaining his passion after experiencing a harrowing medical diagnosis.
The Creation of Next Generation Learning
What should K-12 education look like in its next iteration?
A Public Schooling Advocate’s Final Call
AASA’s executive director’s last column after nearly 15 years at the organization’s helm.
Washougal’s Construction of a Culture of Belonging
The sixth column in a series highlighting AASA demonstration districts focuses on a Washington district’s school culture.
Sidelight: Andrae Townsel
A Maryland superintendent on his modeling career.
Making Learning Personal in North Dakota
A North Dakota superintendent moves out of higher education to make learning personal.
A contested Workplace
In the buildup to this month’s issue, I reached out to an experienced supervisor of school libraries in a Florida school district to write about her long-established practices for vetting new book acquisitions. She expressed interest, then backed out of the assignment. Ditto with the next library administrator I approached with the same request.
Just too hot to handle right now, they reported back.
As Carl Cohn’s cover story “Schools as Contested Places” conveys in illustrative terms, work in public education has taken on considerable discomfort. Conservative views on race, gender and sexuality — including what books ought to be accessible to students in their libraries — have led to supercharged confrontations in a wide array of school communities.
In some cases, well-funded national organizations have fueled what once were nonpartisan local school board elections, creating new board majorities determined to tackle critical race theory in classrooms, LGBTQ lessons and any remnants of pandemic-related practices. As Cohn notes, several superintendents were forced out of their jobs expeditiously by the new board makeups.
To counter this deleterious dimension, article contributors Sheldon Berman and Ross Wiener share their thoughts on mobilizing to reclaim the public good of public education. And superintendent Nate Rudolph describes his community-building efforts in a small Minnesota district.
We recognize our readers cover a spectrum of political inclinations, so we would welcome hearing from you as these issues continue to play out in school governance.