Licensing leaders

Principals who can serve as school leaders — not just paper-pushers — are in short supply. Licensing rules screen out non-teachers with executive skills, writes Frederick Hess in Education Week.

Nearly all states employ licensure systems which require individuals to have taught for about three years and completed a lengthy administrative-preparation program before being allowed to apply for a position as a school principal, superintendent, or administrator. The point is not that nontraditional leaders should necessarily be preferred to seasoned educators, but that licensure makes it difficult for schools to assemble skilled leadership teams or to tap in to crucial talents.

. . . Professional administration organizations seek to add new licensure hurdles. Under the umbrella Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium, constituency groups have advanced ideological and largely content-free “standards.” In an Orwellian parody of educational correctness, the ISLLC’s licensing exam disregards knowledge mastery while seeking to ensure that candidates hold approved values.

. . . Answering the challenge requires a “new leadership agenda” that attracts and develops leaders able to leverage accountability and technology, motivate and discipline educators, support teaching and learning, and foster a productive culture.

Instructional leadership? One third of principals are former gym teachers, Hess writes.

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