Educational Leadership

Lonely chair at the empty room
Lonely chair in the spot of light on black background at empty room
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Innovative Leadership: An Emptiness In Public Education

One of the largest cities in the country once applied corporate solutions to the public education problems. The time frame was 2003-2017, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg worked with Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Public Schools, in bringing about a training academy for school principals, a concept we at ACTE have been promoting. The NYC Leadership Academy was in search of a change agent, an educational entrepreneur who thinks of doing school differently—a leader who is not satisfied with the status quo. With a limited supply of innovative leaders in public education, Bloomberg invited Jack Welch, former GE executive, to chair the Academy. Welch linked educational leadership to that of the corporate world: “We used to say in the Read More ›

man with binoculars looking at Success banner on a mountain top
person with binoculars looking at the path to reach a Success banner on top of a mountain
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Visualize Becoming a Visionary

Bravo to Ben Rodriguez, the new principal of Buckeye Union High School in Buckeye Arizona. He recognizes that you “become the visionary as the principal.” These words echo what Don Nielsen, program chair to the American Center for Transforming Education, writes in his book, Every School, “A visionary principal always leads an effective school.”   However, too often schools are not left in the hands of visionaries, but with managers. Why is this? The answer is two-fold. The present system advances education leaders not on proven leadership , but upon who wants to be an education administrator. As Nielsen argues, “Leadership development in public education is a process-driven system, not a competency-driven system. Further, the quality of leadership training provided Read More ›

math problems
math problems on graph paper with pencil
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What is Missing in the Equation of “Reinventing” Schools?

“Change occurs in schools, often for the better, but it’s almost always gradual and incomplete.” So concludes Chester E. Finn, Jr., Senior Fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in a recent essay on the difficulties of “reinventing” schools. Finn focuses on “break the mold” schools of the “America 2000” plan of the late President George H.W. Bush. Finn brings to light the fact that the “break the mold” schools concentrated solely on creating brand new schools while other programs focused entirely on transforming existing schools. He notes the deficiency of this approach: “In the former situation, ‘it ain’t broke,’ so why change it? In the latter situation, it’s tantamount to taking an education sow’s ear and striving to turn Read More ›

Mom and daughter hands, outdoors
Mom and daughter hands, outdoors
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We Need Leaders and Parental Choice

Idaho Ed News recently published an article focusing on charter schools and leadership, highlighting two separate charter public schools’ experiences.  Devin Bodkin notes that “starting next year, Bingham Academy and Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center will no longer share a director or ‘head administrator.’ The schools will instead operate under separate leadership according to emails between the schools’ board chairs and the commission.” Bodkin states, “Blackfoot declared an “area of need” for the middle school principal position.” The hiring of the new principal, “coincides with a new law that relaxes hiring requirements for charter school administrators. Typically, a principal must hold a master’s degree. But Senate Bill 1058 allows Idaho’s charter schools to permanently bypass the normal hiring requirements for Read More ›


New Version of Every School

An all-new version of Don Nielsen’s Every School, One Citizen’s Guide for Transforming Education can now be purchased on Amazon here! In this updated version of his book, Nielsen, Senior Fellow and Program Chair of Discovery Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education (ACTE), writes about the urgent need to transform our education system. Updating every chapter with new information, the book also adds a new chapter that provides a “game plan” for a state to implement the changes he advocates. Nielsen’s inspiration for the original version of the book, published by Discovery Institute in 2014, was that it would provide a unique and distinctive approach to education reform—dealing with  the overall “system” of public education rather than subjects like curriculum, Read More ›

Leader versus manager
Leader versus manager
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New Higher Education to Incentivize Educators

The supply of public education leaders is greatly outstripping the demand. The demand comes from parents, teachers, and students—that is, groups immediately impacted by leadership, or lack thereof. Don Nielsen, Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute sums up the cause of this leadership shortage in his book, Every School: “School leaders, whether they are principals or superintendents, are not trained to lead their school/district. They are trained to manage their school/district.” This is a consistent issue across all school levels. Nielsen argues, “The difference is that a leader will look for ways to improve performance, will innovate and will not be satisfied with the status quo. Managers, on the other hand, are trained to take what they have and make sure Read More ›

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Combating Union Power

Teacher unions carry a lot of fire power in their holsters, wielding greater influence on the public schools than any other group in American society, including voters. On first glance, one could say it is all “bottom up” influence due to their membership numbers (the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have a combined membership approaching 5 million). Unions drive collective bargaining activities which result in agreements so comprehensive that the organization of public schools is virtually dictated by the union. There is also “top-down” influence, in which politicians are lobbied to pass laws and regulations that are typically anti-reform and block or weaken any attempt to curb union power. In an article for New York Read More ›

Tennessee State Capital Building
Facade of Tennessee State Capital Building in Nashville, Tennessee
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States Stepping Out to Transform Education

Dale Chu of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a national advocate for bettering education, breaks down the Education Commission of the States’ annual report, highlighting what state governors are saying about education in their State of the State addresses. The Education Commission of the States follows and evaluates the policy proposals by Governors from each state, looking for developing tendencies, and summarizing them in a way easy to follow for the reader. Examples of these emerging trends are school finance, workforce development, teaching quality, early learning, postsecondary financial aid, and school safety. The speeches of four governors are singled out for special recognition: Eric Holcomb of Indiana, Brad Little of Idaho, Ron DeSantis of Florida, and Tennessee’s new Governor, Bill Read More ›

Leadership vs Unions

Teacher unions always focus on the needs of their members, not the needs of children. A case in point is the recent strike in Denver. Teachers were out marching for an increase in their pay while students were being used as pawns. An article in states  “The average teacher salary in Denver, which includes incentives, is $62,095. That’s well above the national average teacher salary, which is $55,100, according to federal data.” What is more disconcerting than the statement above, was the announcement made by the teachers’ union president, Henry Roman, “We will strike Monday for our students and for our profession, and perhaps then DPS will get the message and return to the bargaining table with a serious proposal aimed Read More ›