President's Corner

Final Reflections

by Randall H. Collins

As I entered the presidency of AASA on July 1, 2008, I could not have imagined what lay ahead for our nation, for the world and for me personally. Looking back at the events that shaped the past 12 months, I am struck by their extremes. The global economic crisis exploded, the war in Iraq waned as Afghanistan moved into the spotlight, the world watched as the United States once again set an example by electing Barack Obama to its highest office, and my father died.

I just now am catching my breath and trying to put the experiences of this year into some perspective. Four thoughts emerge, and with each, I feel a different emotion.

Pres_Collins.jpgRandall H. Collins

I feel uneasiness about the world economy and how it will affect us as a nation, our public schools as an institution and my own children and grandchildren as citizens of our global society.

I feel weariness over yet another war that, while perhaps necessary, will certainly mean more innocent lives lost, more destruction and more human misery.

I feel great hope and a sense of optimism for our nation, led by a new administration that includes in its priorities American public education.

And I feel sadness in the loss of my father, and the realization of how precious yet fleeting time is.

Also within this collage of emotions is the wonderful satisfaction I have felt in serving as president of AASA. During the past several months, we have experienced a renaissance under the leadership of our new executive director, Dan Domenech, and we have witnessed public education’s return as a priority on the national stage.

While AASA has not been immune to the global economic crisis, we took the opportunity to get our house in order and reinforce our stance as education advocates for all students.

As my term as president nears its end, I am grateful for the opportunities the position has offered. It has given me the chance to meet fellow superintendents around the country and to share a special camaraderie. It has broadened my perspective on the similarities and differences that exist among our public schools. It has given me a greater understanding of the complexities of the challenges that lie ahead and the confidence to know we will meet the challenges with teachers and administrators who are talented, committed and passionate about public education.

This past year has allowed me to be part of the voice that is speaking so loudly for a new direction in public education, an education not shackled by the narrowness of high-stakes testing and No Child Left Behind. It has allowed me to be part of the team of practitioners, not theorists, who spoke with the new U.S. secretary of education about what might be rather than what is.

I am pleased to have been a part of what I am sure will be viewed as a turning point in the history of AASA.

My commitment to AASA, the superintendents of our country and the children entrusted to our care has never been stronger. While the future we face is certainly different from the future we expected to confront, I am confident in the skill of our educators, the purposefulness of AASA and the potential of our children.

I thank you for the opportunity granted me and look forward to serving our cause in different ways.

Randall Collins is AASA president for 2008-09. E-mail: