Friday, February 3, 2012

Superintendents: Our Strength, Our Voice, Our Future

By Cedric Tealer

I attended a presentation at the 2012 TASA Midwinter Conference entitled “Superintendents: Our Strength, Our Voice, Our Future,” presented by Joseph Scherer, Ph.D.  Dr. Scherer passionately articulated the impetus behind the whitepaper, “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas,” which came from the work of 35 public school superintendents in the state of Texas. This document outlines the reasons why superintendents should step forward and generate the dialogue necessary to drive positive change within our educational system.  Here are the highlights: 

Why is this an issue?
The need for this document was born from frustration with the current public education system. This system, which is in a comparative decline internationally, graduates a disproportionate number of under-prepared students who do not go on to complete their college educations.

What’s the goal?
Currently, political and business leaders are the ones changing the direction of education. The purpose of the new vision is to begin a disciplined dialogue that stimulates questions and formulates ideas. Ultimately, this dialogue would serve to identify problems and frame issues. Experienced educators need to take over and drive this conversation to bring change.

What’s the urgency?
The United States no longer offers the premier educational system in the world. American students continue to show low competency levels in math, reading, and science, resulting in a growing skills and opportunity gap. This ever-widening gap leads to significant numbers of unemployed and under skilled workers.

Why is this dialogue essential?
Currently, dialogue surrounding public education reform is based on feelings and values, rather than knowledge and facts. Simple discussions regarding complex educational issues don’t typically result in real change. Experienced educators must take charge and frame the tough questions in order to control and create meaningful conversations.

Why should superintendents lead the charge?
Because they are ultimately responsible for educating our children, superintendents must be the ones to lead this movement for change. They have a clear understanding of the real issues, know how to marshal resources, and are looking for sustainable change rather than temporary solutions.

Dr. Scherer emphasized that it is time for superintendents to join in and lend their voices to the dialogue and create a new vision for public education in Texas. Given the current state of education, it is important that superintendents unite quickly and lead the way to educational reform.

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