Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Position, New Setting, New Opportunities: A Challenging Leadership Responsibility

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Position, New Setting, New Opportunities: A Challenging Leadership Responsibility

Article excerpt

New Position, New Setting, New Opportunities: A Challenging Leadership. Responsibility

After working several years at a traditionally white Midwestern institution of higher education, I became dean of the College of Education at a historically African American university in a Southern city. I was truly pleased to be in a new setting with new opportunities. I must confess, however, that although this move was exhilarating in its offering of opportunities, the responsibilities entailed made it intimidating.

Candidly, I found myself continually checking my mental alertness: What personal and profession thoughts and actions would best represent the most value for the institution and myself? How could I, and would I, influence the symbiotic and synergistic needs of teacher education reform and pre-K-12 school reform?

I was mindful that the Education Commission of the States lamented the present condition of public education in its 1993 report, "A Shared Vision: Policy Recommendations for Linking Teaching Education to School Reform." The report laid the blame on teacher education programs for not rehabilitating teacher training and impairing the pre-K-12 education reform movement.

It also stated that reforms in teacher education should include programs that prepare beginning teachers -- and upgrade the development of veteran teachers -- to work more effectively with students from varied backgrounds, and in schools with different pedagogic approaches.

The Mugwumps

The plethora of research and reports on reform in teacher education and pre-K to 12th grade school reform efforts strongly suggested to me that the myriad of directions and expectations of reform in pre-K-12 education generally, and in teacher education particularly, create opportunities for leadership of the bold and tenacious kind. No longer can the leadership vacuum be dominated and filled by interested, but uninvited, "mugwumps," whose agenda seems always to favor a political solution to an educational problem.

In this regard, there is one thing that I know for certain. That is, as a teachereducation leader, one must provide insightful and visionary direction to gain results in education reform. Also, any educational leader worth his or her salt must say, unequivocally, what must be done, and to then do it unwaveringly, to improve the schooling process for both teachers and students. …

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