The American School Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study

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Parkerson, J. Transitions in American education: A social history of teaching. Raywid, M. Rethinking school governance. Elmore Ed. Reimer, L. Leadership and school boards: Guarding the trust. Rury, J. Education and social change. Mahwah, N. J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Sell, S. Running an effective school district: School boards in the 21st century. The Journal of Education, 3 , Shuttleworth, D. School management in transition: Schooling on the edge. Webber, C. Educational change in Alberta, Canada: An analysis of recent events.

Educational Policy Analysis Archives, 3 How to lose your charter. Journal of School Choice, 7 2 , School board members: How does a system continue to achieve when leadership is at odds? Pamela S. Introduction For over years, school board members have been in charge of providing governance to local school districts Prezas, Leaders such as Benjamin Franklin advocated that it was important for the local municipality to have control over the way their children were being taught, and thus saw the need for local school boards Davies, The members of early school boards were lay persons from the community who provided facilities for educating the students and a teacher for instruction Cistone, ; Mountford, Board members realized that they alone could not run the day to day operations of the school system; thus the position of clerk or superintendent of schools was created Mizzell, The role of the superintendent was and still is that of an administrator or chief executive officer who is in charge of leading the school system Malen, ; Houston, Thus, the role of the superintendent was created by board members to carry on the daily operations of the school system Kowalski, ; Kowalski et al, Leadership at odds?

Today the roles of superintendent and board members are not as cordial as they once were McAdams, According to Ray Hudullah personal communication, October 1, , former school board chair in Georgia, Reform is not as easy as changing a district calendar for the number of days to attend school or redistricting a school district; it takes the cooperation of both the superintendent working together with the board members to achieve such a task. But what happens when the superintendent and school board members do not agree on issues? Glass and Franceschini stated that 71 percent of superintendants who were surveyed perceived that their job as superintendent was in crisis.

Further, he reported that an average number of new superintendents was around Simpson noted that many superintendents perceive the job is more than just being an administrator to the school system; it is more a political effort to work with the board members while doing what is best for the children.

Feinberg reported that superintendents leave for a variety of reasons: retirement, health and family issues, non-renewal of contract, and to pursue other ventures. But a main reason superintendents leave is due to board members meddling in the day-to-day operations of the school system Grissom, ; Prezas, According to the Georgia School Boards Association , the average length of time a school superintendent stays under contract with one system is three years and the average contract is for three years.

Feuerstein found that 35 percent of the superintendents said that they would be more aggressive in developing more reform if they had a longer contract. According to Glass , the relationship between superintendents and board members is critical in developing a positive and effective working and learning environment. Superintendent vs. School Board The job description of a school superintendent is just as demanding as that of any chief executive officer Furman, ; Pont, According to the Georgia School Boards Association , the superintendent acts as the ex-officio secretary and treasurer of the board.

As secretary, the superintendent must keep minutes during executive sessions and other meetings of the board McAdams, As treasurer, the superintendent is responsible for the receipt and disbursement of school funds Lipman, The superintendent must fulfill and accomplish all rules, regulations and instructions of the school board, which includes the implementation of school board policies Bjork, The superintendent is also charged with making employment and assignment recommendations for all school personnel to the school board Duvall, Peterson and Williams reported that a main reason for superintendents to leave their job is political pressure from a board member to act in a way that is not best for all children.

Richardson also reports that superintendents are tired of being a scapegoat for issues that are beyond their scope of position. The superintendent is also in charge of setting the agenda for the board meetings Wickerham, Conflict between board members and superintendents comes when a board member wants to add information to the agenda while the meeting is in progress Ament, A functioning board will follow the agenda and abide by the policies and procedures that are already set Reeves, Eadie also perceives that it is important to keep politics and personal agendas out of the meetings and always support the superintendent even if it is not a popular decision.

School board members also face a number of reasons they do not stay longer than one term in office Feuerstein, ; Hess ; Prezas, According to the Georgia School Boards Association , board members are on a rotating cycle for elections and it is possible for a board to have a new member every two years. Wickerham stated that special interest groups are another cause of school board turn off. Keedy and Bjork found that of the 2, school board presidents from across the United States, 30 percent stated that they would not run for another term on the school board.

Communication Former Georgia school superintendent Dr. Jack Parish personal communication, October 4, describes working with school board members: as the most challenging task a school superintendent can perform is trying to decide how much information to give the members. Some members want just a little, while others want it all. Keeping board members abreast of current issues and trends is an issue, but it is important that all members receive the same information at the same time in order to limit favoritism on the board.

Maeroff, also suggests that board members should also learn from networking with other members who attend workshops and conferences. Reimer proposes that communication is an ongoing process and one that changes every time a new board member is elected or a superintendent is replaced. Board members must communicate with the superintendent in order to have a functional system that is dedicated to student achievement Bagley, According to Jay Wansley personal communication, September 30, , Associative Director of AdvancEd in Georgia, board members can cause a system to lose accreditation by micromanaging the school system and by acting as the superintendent instead of a board member.

One county in Georgia lost accreditation in , one of three counties in the nation to lose accreditation since Wickerham, The Georgia governor removed four board members for violating their oath of office and for ethics misconduct. Superintendents and board members should work together in communicating their vision for the system Johnson, Dysfunctional boards do not have clear goals and beliefs and board members often disagree with other board members in public Kirst, Shared vision Hirsh and Foster , state that the school board and the superintendent should have a shared vision on how the system is to advance.

Biffault also stated that board members need to be reminded that they represent the entire district, not just an area. Brewer, Killen and Welsh reported on the importance of developing a climate that is positive and proactive for sharing the vision of board members and superintendent.

Understanding roles and responsibilities It is understandable that school board members do not understand their roles as members of the local school board Fowler, Board members act as judicial, executive, and legislative officers in their county. The board acts as a judicial member when they act on student disciplinary hearings, teacher terminations, and personnel transfers Davies, These roles are typically reserved for legal counsel; knowing legal issues are not something common to a lay person Usdan, The board acts as an executive member when they approve policies that have been reviewed by the stakeholders Saenz, These tasks become even more frustrating for board members who are new and old alike when they do not have clearly defined roles that are understood by all Hooever, According to Grissom , effective school systems are led by superintendents and school boards who unite with a common cause and develop a deep mutual trust and respect for each other and the system they support Reimer, Developing ongoing learning experiences for both new and veteran board members keeps each member abreast of new trends from the Federal and State government, allows networking with other board members across the state in developing solutions to problem issues, and allows board members to work together in gaining better understanding to local issues Fowler, ; Grissom, ; Malen, ; Simpson, All of these functions require extensive knowledge of the system and thus training in these areas is essential for good governance Maeroff, New school board members in Georgia are required to attend 15 hours of school board training; and veteran members are required to attend nine hours of board training GSBA, Board members are trained in policy orientation, legal issues, roles and responsibilities, communications, student achievement, and other workshops that may be requested by the system GSBA, No board member, not even the chair, has any more power than another Usdan, Bjork writes that no board member has any legal authority to act as an individual on any issue and that all board actions must consider the betterment of the entire system, not just a specific location or group.

Focusing on policies and not the day to day operations of the schools by the board members helps to guide the system to a high functioning status when the board holds high expectations of student achievement district wide Bagley, High student achievement should be communicated at parent meetings, school board meetings, on the websites, public functions, and with each other Feinberg, Summary Working together as an educational team really does not matter if student achievement is not the main focus of the jobs.

Team building, role enhancement, and budget seminars mean nothing if the two groups are not dedicated to academic success. The only way to ensure academic success for the students is to hold each board member accountable for hiring a superintendent that shares the same goals, focus and vision for the best interest of the community.

Focusing on school leadership is important but can only happen when those at the top have a clear vision, set goals, and are constantly evaluating the success of the projects. Board members must not overlook the need for self evaluation when programs and process are not effective. Superintendents must provide the board with enough information to make decisions that are beneficial for all students and not just the ones in their own district.

Even though learning takes place in the classroom with talented and gifted teachers, their effectiveness will only be seen when working in a system that has a functioning school board, and a visionary as a superintendent who is more interested in developing policies that advance learning than getting bogged down in the daily happenings of the system.

Female Superintendents and the Effects of Mentoring Relationships

Developing practices that reach out to the community and invite two-way communication will build a foundation for a high performing school system. References Ament, T. The role of the superintendent and school board chair in building relational trust with newly elected board members in small rural Washington school districts Doctoral dissertation, Washington State University.

Bagley, R. The sustainability of superintendent-led reforms to improve student achievement. Doctoral dissertation, University of Southern California. Leading in an era of change: The micropolitics of superintendent-board relations. Alsbury ed. Brewer, D. The role of politics and governance in educational accountability. Education, 8 3 , Briffault, R.

The local school district in American law. Howell Ed. Cistone, P.

SelectedWorks - Theodore J. Kowalski

School board research: A retrospective. Davies, L. School boards in transition: An examination of board member induction Doctoral dissertation, Washington State University. Duvall, S. Superintendent evaluation and other influences on the school board and superintendent relationship: Measuring strength of relationship. Doctoral dissertation: Eastern Michigan University-Ypsilanti. Feinberg, S. The role of the superintendent in redefining schools for students to be successful in the 21st century Doctoral dissertation, Sage College.

Feuerstein, A. Knuckling under? School superintendents and accountability-based educational reform. Journal of School Leadership, 23 5. Fowler, F. Policy studies for educational leaders 3rd ed. Frankenberg, E. School board leadership and policymaking in changing political environments. The Urban Review, 45 2 , Furman, G.

The impact of fiscal limitation on superintendents' role and responsibilities for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Doctoral dissertation, Sage College. Georgia School Boards Association A guide to effective boardsmanship. Elected versus appointed boards. Alsbury, The future of school board governance: Relevancy and revelation pp. Grissom, J. The determinants of conflict on governing boards in public organizations: The case of California school boards.

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20 3 , School boards in the accountability era. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Phi Delta Kappan, 82 6 , Hoyle, J. The superintendent as CEO. Johnson, P. Effective board leadership: Factors associated with student achievement. Journal of School Leadership, 23 3. Keedy, J.

Contact Theodore J. Kowalski

Superintendents and local boards and the potential for community polarization: The call for use of political strategist skills. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow. Kirst, M. The evolving role of school boards: Retrospect and prospect. The school superintendent: Theory, practice and cases. Thousand Oaks, CA. The American school superintendent: decennial study. An enduring issue: The relationship between political democracy and educational effectiveness. Mitchell, R. Shipps Eds. Manna, P. Education governance for the twenty- first century: Overcoming the structural barriers to school reform.

Westport, CT: Information Age. Pont, B. School leadership: From practice to policy. Prezas, J. Journal of School Public Relations, 26, Saatcioglu, A. Sociology of school boards: A social capital perspective. Sociological Inquiry, 84 1 , Saenz, C. School governance: A study of the effect of micromanagement on decision-making processes of school superintendents. Doctoral dissertation, Capella University. Simpson, J. Superintendent tenure and student achievement.

Townsend, R. Effective superintendent-school board practices. Usdan, M. School boards. Phi Delta Kappan, 91, Wickerham, M. When your board is having problems, where do you turn? American School Board Journal, 3, Kenneth E. Richardson Pamela A. Lemoine Thomas J. Abstract The buyout of superintendent contracts by school boards has become the source of debate during the past decade. These buyouts most often are the result of conflicts of interest between the local school board and the superintendent.

Reasons for these conflicts encompass issues of superintendent loyalties, board membership turnover, and both public and political pressures. Ramifications may include negative financial impact, turmoil within the district, derogatory public opinion, and legal considerations.

Changes in school district leadership mandate realignment of district philosophy costing the district time, money, and public trust in the instructional programs provided by the school district. Often this is followed by a turnover in school board members which will ultimately affect student learning Alsburg, ; Ray, Superintendents and school board members experience similar pressures to implement change, respond to mandates, and address district finances Hattar, ; Kowalski, In the area of educational programs, the school board is responsible for assessment in the district, alignment of curriculum with district goals and standards, excellent academic performance in the district, and informing the public of progress Simpson, Giaquinto , sources of conflict between boards and superintendents.

Buyouts of superintendents are becoming more frequent due to several reasons Rohlfing, A superintendent may face buyout because of being a bad administrator or because of being too proactive Domene, As more buyouts occur, the financial implications for school districts continue to mount. In a study of five Texas school districts that bought out the superintendent, Ray and Marshall discovered several negative results for the district. These negative results were the detrimental impact on the school district budget, a lowering of staff morale, a decrease in student achievement, and a lowering of community support.

Why do school boards want the superintendent gone? Baker and Samuels advised school board members of ways to avoid going to court to settle superintendent dismissals.

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So what causes superintendents to leave or be removed? Why do school boards want the superintendent to leave, or go to the extent of buying out the contract? Why would school boards be willing to pay three or four superintendents simultaneously? Relationships Metzger studied the involuntary turnover of superintendents within California. Involuntary turnover generally resulted in turmoil within the district, legal involvement for the buyout, and the financial costs of the search for a new superintendent Grissom, Metzger stated that superintendents often arrived at their position thinking that they would never be involuntarily removed.

The two most frequently cited factors were related to personnel issues and political agendas of board members. Other factors included union problems, financial problems, and making the superintendent the scapegoat for unpopular decisions Melver, The involuntary turnover of superintendents often has a devastating effect on their personal lives Hoyle, Finance One reason for high superintendent buyout is escalating pay for school leaders.

This research was designed to examine the conceptual emphasis on the two-sided nature of turnover decisions which the labor market predicts. Still other turnover is the result of retirement decisions, which appear to be driven primarily by age. School districts might use these results to improve superintendent retention by focusing attention or resources on its antecedents. References Alligood, J. Georgia female school superintendents: Perceptions of isolation. Superintendent and school board member turnover: Political versus apolitical turnover as a critical variable in the application of dissatisfaction theory.

Educational Administration Quarterly, 39 5 , Alsbury, T. School board member and superintendent turnover and the influence on student achievement: An application of the dissatisfaction theory. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 7 2 , — Baker, S. Superintendent, school board and qualified candidates perceptions concerning the declining superintendent applicant pool Doctoral dissertation, University of Virginia.

Characteristics of American school superintendents. Kowalski Eds. Brandolph, A. Legislators target buyouts for school superintendents. Pittsburgh Tribune Review PA. Brubaker, D. The disposable superintendent. The Executive Educator, 17 2 , Brunner, C. AASA national survey of women in the superintendency and central office: Preliminary results.

Buchanan, B. Turnover at the top: Superintendent vacancies challenge big-city boards. American School Board Journal, 12 , Turnover at the top: Superintendent vacancies and the urban school. Byrd, J. Factors impacting superintendent turnover: Lessons from the field. Carlson, R. Succession and performance among school superintendents. Administrative Science Quarterly, 6 2 , — Clark, R.

The superintendent as a temp. School Administrator, 54 4 , Czaja, M. Excessive school district superintendent turnover: An explorative study in Texas. International Electronic Journal of Leadership in Education, 1 6. DeMitchell, T. The superintendent, the school board, and free speech. The Clearing House, 68 6 , Derrington, M. Self-imposed barriers. The School Administrator, 66 8 , Domene, D. A study of factors influencing superintendent departure.

Doctoral dissertation, California State University, Fullerton. Eaton, W. Involuntary turnover among small-town superintendents. Peabody Journal of Education, 71 2 , 78— Ehrenberg, R. Determinants of the compensation and mobility of school superintendents. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 41 3 , — Esparo, L. The leadership crisis: The shortage of qualified superintendents is not going away. American School Board Journal, 5 , Evert, T.

Thriving as a superintendent: How to recognize and survive an unanticipated departure. How do we find and retain superintendents. Giaquinto, A. Longevity in the superintendency: A case study of New Jersey district factor group CD superintendents. Doctoral dissertation; Seton Hall University. Gilman, D. Where have all the principals gone? Educational Leadership, 58 8 , Board presidents view superintendent turnover. Education Commission of the States Issue Paper. The superintendent shortage: Findings from research on school board presidents. Journal of School Leadership, 13 3 , The study of the American school superintendency: A look at the superintendent of education in the new millennium.

The state of the American school superintendency: A Mid-decade study. Goens, G. Broken-wing superintendents.

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The School Administrator, 62 2 , Goldberg, D. Interim superintendents manage budget crises in brief tenures at N. School board presidents describe critical incidents with superintendents. Grady, M. School board turmoil and superintendent turnover: What pushes them to the brink? The School Administrator, 48 2 , 19— Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 20 3 , Why superintendents turn over. American Educational Research Journal, 49 6 , Grogan, M. The short tenure of a woman superintendent: A clash of gender and politics. Journal of School Leadership, 10 2 , Defining preparation and professional development for the future.

Education Administration Quarterly, 38 2 , Harrington-Lueker, D. Paid not to work. The American School Board Journal, 4 , 28, Harvey, J. The urban superintendent: Creating great schools while surviving on the job. Hewitt, P. Rapid change? Only the name on your office door. The School Administrator, 59 9 , Hosman, C. Superintendent selection and dismissal: A changing community defines its values. Urban Education, 25, A preparation mystery: Why some succeed and others fail.

Planning and Changing, 38 3 , Kamrath, B. High superintendent turnover: A multicase study of small rural school districts. Kinsella, M. Journal of School Leadership, 14 3 , Knox, J. A decade of service: A case study of superintendent leadership Doctoral dissertation, Valdosta State University. Superintendent shortage: The wrong problem and the wrong solutions. McAdams, R. The roles of Pennsylvania superintendents and school board members as perceived by superintendents and school board members. Educational Research Quarterly, 21 1 , McCloud, B. School boards and superintendents in urban districts.

Phi Delta Kappan, 75 5 , McKay, J. Turnover at the top. Executive Educator, 16, Mellon, E. Hefty superintendent buyouts continue in struggling North Forest. Houston Chronicle TX. Melver , T. Cause of job turnover in the public school superintendency: An explanatory analysis in the western United States. Doctoral dissertation, University of Nevada Metzger, C. Involuntary turnover of superintendents. Thrust for Educational Leadership, 26 4 , 20— Meyer, J. Downloads Download data is not yet available. Metrics Metrics Loading Bynum, Y. Female Superintendents and the Effects of Mentoring Relationships.

International Journal for Innovation Education and Research , 3 Author Biographies. Yvette P.

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References Alabama State Department of Education Alabama Education Directory. Urban Education, 35 5 , Baranik, L. Why does mentoring work? The role of perceived organizational support. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 76 3 , Beckett, B. Mentorship Is Key to Career Success.

Strategic Finance, 92 4 , Beekley, C. Dancing in red shoes. Sacred dreams: Women and the superintendency, Beres, J. SMEJ, 8 1. Brunner, C. Crawling through the window of a dream: surveying the terrain. Sacred Dreams: Women and the Superintendency, Colley, H. A rough guide to the history of mentoring from a Marxist feminist perspective. Journal of Education for Teaching: International research and pedagogy, 28 3 , Davidson, M. Mentoring in the preparation of graduate researchers of color. Review of Educational Research, 71 4 , Dunbar, D. Mentoring female administrators toward leadership success.

The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 77 3 , Feistritzer, C. Profile of Teachers in the US, Gardiner, M. Coloring outside the lines: Mentoring women into school leadership. Suny Press. Gewertz, C. Race, Gender, and the Superintendency. Education Week, 25 24 , Giddis, R. Gilmour, S. Succeeding as a female superintendent: How to get there and stay there. Michelle Young University of Virginia E-mail confirmado em eservices. Craig A.

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