Urban school superintendents say it’s an impossible job, according to a new report. They don’t have the power to make necessary changes.

If urban superintendents are to be expected to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap, a constellation of changes is required to empower superintendents: more authority over central office staff, hiring, and performance assessment; a greater say in defining district mission; explicit power to hire, assign, and fire school principals; authority to put the best teachers where they can do the most good; more authority over district funds.

Chester Finn writes:

This exceptionally timely and important report says, in effect, that while we need superb leaders for urban (and other) school systems, it won’t do simply to seek super-heroes to slot into current jobs. The jobs themselves must profoundly change. And that means a great deal more in public education must change, too.

Two-thirds of urban superintendents want to create more charter schools, according to the study. They’re also not keen on elected school boards.

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