'Cage-Busting Leadership': 5 myths vs. facts

 

 

MYTH:

Leaders are only allowed to do what federal law specifically permits.

FACT:

When it comes to federal law, as Council of the Great City Schools executive director Michael Casserly notes, "Unless something is otherwise prohibited by some provision in the statute or under the General Education Provisions Act, it's actually allowed." For district and state leaders, this means that silence is a license to lead.

 

MYTH:

Today's educational leadership training programs cover all of the material necessary to lead a successful school or system.

FACT:

According to pollster Public Agenda, 72 percent of superintendents and 67 percent of principals report that "typical leadership programs in graduate schools of education are out of touch with the realities of what it takes to run today's school district." ... Courses emphasize compliance with regulations while giving short shrift to helping leaders learn to utilize data or technology.

 

MYTH:

It is impossible for school leaders to implement reforms without new dollars.

FACT:

School and system leaders have a wealth of opportunities to use limited talent, tools, time, and resources to promote great teaching and learning — if they look for them and have the will to act on them. The fact is, the most innovative organizations tend to be cash-poor start-ups that rely on moxie, creativity, and elbow grease.

 

MYTH:

Good school leadership is about coaching, mentoring, and developing whomever you've got.

FACT:

Coaching and cajoling mediocre teachers is important and essential work, but it's wrong to suggest that good leaders should do this ad infinitum. Cage-busters coach and cajole as long as they think it makes sense for the school, system, and students — and work to briskly replace teachers when that is no longer the case.

 

MYTH:

All collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are egregiously restrictive.

FACT:

The majority of CBAs in K–12 actually include much room to maneuver. According to analysis of CBAs in the 50 largest US school districts, while one-third of the contract provisions examined were clearly restrictive, half were ambiguous or silent when it came to key personnel policy questions.

 


Cage-Busting Leadership

by Frederick M. Hess
#cagebusting
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About the Author

 

Frederick M.
Hess
  • An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include "Cage-Busting Leadership," "Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age," "The Same Thing Over and Over," "Education Unbound," "Common Sense School Reform," "Revolution at the Margins," and "Spinning Wheels." He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, "Rick Hess Straight Up." Hess's work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.  Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.


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