Leading for Learning

Education Week
September 10, 2008

This collection of articles considers research on the
characteristics common to charter school leaders. Though the schools
themselves vary widely in organizational structure, curriculum choices,
and mission, successful leaders of them tend to have much in common. The
ideal charter principal is often presumed to be a person of
near-mythical capabilities, containing in one body the qualities of
superintendent, principal, teacher, parent, construction worker, and
chief financial officer. That perception, this compilation notes, is not
reality. The best leadership model, it seems, is what today is often
termed "distributed leadership," a set-up in which responsibility is
shared between two or three highly driven and dedicated people with
different but complementary skill sets. Such a model allows for
specialized handling of responsibilities, such as fundraising or
facilities management, and makes it easier to grow leaders in-house and
involve teachers in management decisions. The articles also report that
charter board members, like regular school board members, often
misunderstand their oversight roles and become mired in the minutiae of
school operations, for example. A successful board member, readers
learn, understands the charter laws in his state and remains focused on
supporting his school's vision. This compilation (with contributions
from Education Week reporters and Center on Reinventing Public
Education staff members) has much more to say about what good charter
school leadership looks like. It's available here.

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