The superintendent hero who swoops in and saves the schools is a “sure=fire recipe for disappointment and cynicism,” writes Larry Cuban, a former superintendent and emeritus education professor, on The Answer Sheet. Of course, he’s thinking about Michelle Rhee, who may soon swoop out of Washington, D.C.
What’s the alternative to heroes entering and exiting leaving broken china scattered behind? Yes, some china must be broken. That’s the easy part. The hard part is building a strong political consensus among teachers, students, parents, and larger community that the job can be done, will take a lot of time, and the folks who can do the job are right here in River City.
They wore no capes and donned no tights. They slogged through a decade or more of battles, some of which they lost, to accumulate small victories. They helped create a generation of civic and district leaders and a teacher corps who shared their vision.
They built brick-by-brick the capacities among hundreds and thousands of teachers, principals, parents, and community members to continue the work. Yes, they angered many and, yes, they fought to win but they persevered. They left legacies that teachers, principals, and parents can, indeed, improve schools by working together.
Switching metaphors, Cuban says school leaders should be marathon runners, not sprinters.