A Newcomer’s Take on a Continuing Mission

Type: Article
Topics: School Administrator Magazine

March 01, 2023


In my inaugural column as your AASA executive director, I want to begin by thanking Dan Domenech for his incredible leadership, mentorship and dedication to public education throughout his career. He has been a true advocate for the 50 million K-12 students in our country, and I wish him the absolute best as he moves on to the next chapter in his unbelievably amazing career.

In addition, I would like to take an opportunity to thank AASA President Shari Camhi and the entire AASA Executive Committee for their faith in selecting me as your next executive director.

Since our nation’s founding, public education has served as the backbone of our democratic society. From our rural farmlands to our suburban communities to our urban centers of commerce, public school teachers, administrators and staff have stood before their students in classrooms daily to help guide their development for futures we cannot yet imagine.

With AASA members leading our nation’s public school systems, the state of education in this country is in great hands. That does not mean the work is easy. The noise, distractions and agendas of some have made this work exceptionally challenging.

At the same time, there is not another individual in a school community who has the honor and opportunity to lead their community through the darkness to the sunrise more than a superintendent. The work can be exhausting, as we all know, but it is worth it if we can collectively make the country better for future generations.

A Moral Obligation

Education leaders must move beyond the minutiae that can control our day and truly transcend and lead for excellence. None of us got into this work to spend 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week, managing through a global pandemic. However, for those who have stepped into school leadership roles in the past three years, that’s all they know. AASA will continue to provide networks and supports for those leaders, as a significant portion of the joy of our profession is in our leading the work, not managing all day long. We cannot move our districts forward if we live in a management mindset. It just can’t happen.

Our nation’s superintendents have a moral obligation to be the voice for the voiceless. We need to celebrate the many, many successes of our nation’s public schools, and we need to be very honest about our ongoing challenges.

AASA and our nation’s school district leaders embrace the opportunity to shape the dialogue and narrative and share the incredibly positive stories and amazing accomplishments of our public school students and staff.

Through the Learning 2025 National Commission’s Report “An American Imperative: A New Vision of Public Schools,” AASA is committed to assisting communities in building student-centered, equity-focused, future-driven educational institutions across the country.

Public education works in the United States, and with outstanding AASA members leading our nation’s public school systems, it will only get better in the years to come.

Gathering Insights

Our mission at AASA is to continue to advocate for equitable access for all students to the highest quality public education, and develop and support school system leaders. It is this philosophy that guides all that we do, and I look forward to working with you and supporting you for many years to come.

As we continue this journey together, I will be actively gathering insights and perspectives from our members during the next several months.

I’m beyond excited to serve our AASA members and our country’s amazing public school students and look forward to connecting with you in the weeks and months ahead. Be well, my friends.

David Schuler is AASA’s executive director. Twitter: @AASA_ED