Academic journal article Education Next

Finding Good Leaders

Academic journal article Education Next

Finding Good Leaders

Article excerpt

I had always planned to semi-retire into education after I had saved enough in my business career to supplement a teacher's pay. Now that I am moving from the business world to education, I read Frederick Hess's article on educational leadership ("Lifting the Barrier," Forum, Fall 2003) with great anticipation. Unfortunately, I found his arguments thin.

The article makes a number of poorly defended assertions. First, Hess argues that a principal does not need to have classroom experience to judge a teacher's performance or to mentor his charges. Teaching is much like the sales profession. Unless you have carried a bag and walked the streets, it is extremely difficult to gain the respect of the sales force. Without the ability to feel their pain, one will be long on punitive sticks and short on supportive carrots.

Second, Hess believes that graduate programs leading to an administrative certificate do not provide effective quality control. His evidence is that the standardized test scores of students earning MBAs are higher than those of doctoral candidates in the same universities' schools of education. It is clear that the higher compensation and competitive challenge available in business attracts more capable candidates; that is the state of our values, not a condemnation of our education schools. …

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