I was recently sent the Hechinger Report article titled, “Wanted: More Gutsy Leaders to Drive Schools Into a Digital Age.” I found the article well-written, inspiring, and very necessary! There were some really good challenges embedded in the article. Unfortunately, as I thought about all of the aspiring educational administrators who are looking to find that “dream” job the realness of the education landscape set in. The aspiring admins get charged up while in Graduate School, or through reading about exceptional leaders who make lasting change…. Then….. what happens?
The truth is that most school districts do not want Gutsy Leaders, Digital Leaders, or even Inspirational Leaders. I have talked with aspiring administrators throughout the country who continue to be passed up for known commodities (insiders), ed reformers, or people who are the right fit (translation: the district wants the same). Honestly, most aspects of education are very traditional and it is no surprise that it hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years….. and the more important question is why? Why change?
Those districts who are succeeding on standardized assessments do not want some Gutsy Leader to come in and tip over the apple cart. It may mean a lot of extra work for both upper administration and the teachers… Those districts who are on the brink of state takeover for poor performance are looking for ed reformers to carry out the privatization/charter agenda. These districts want results, but they also want you to subscribe to their reform niche that may make an investor lots of money…. Then, there is the culture of hiring “our own.” Most districts want to take care of people who are accustomed to how things are run, and it can be extremely difficult for an “outsider” to get a chance. So it looks daunting for the Gutsy, Digital or Inspirational Leaders… But not impossible!