Outsiders as school superintendents

January 8, 2010
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If it weren’t for the snow, education news might be dominating local headlines.

Yesterday, the Indiana Division of Professional Standards Advisory Board approved a proposal to allow future teachers to devote more time to learning math, science or other subject areas and less time learning teaching methods. The point is to make it easier to attract people with expertise in a subject into education, and to bring more subject expertise into classrooms through new education graduates. Read the story here.

Then, today, the Department of Education announced that high school graduation rates are rising. Here’s the story.

All good news for people who think improvement is long overdue.

However, one change largely overlooked in the teacher standards announcement was giving school boards the option to hire nontraditional superintendents—namely people from outside the education system. Licenses would be granted to these administrators only for a particular school system, but the move nevertheless broadens the potential crop of candidates.

The education department thinks school systems might look to a corporate chief financial officer if there’s need for fiscal expertise, for example. Or to a successful entrepreneur if the desire is for new ideas. Or to someone with particularly strong interpersonal skills if strife is a problem.

With every change there’s potential for problems. What are the downsides? Any upsides that will surprise?
 

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