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School Management        < Previous        Next >


'The Cushiest Job in Town'


Q. It used to be that school administrators had the cushiest jobs in town. They were well-paid, had lots of time off, everybody respected them, and everybody wanted to be on their good side. What happened?


"Cushiest"? That's debatable. Define "cushy." How do you think YOU would do in the superintendent's hotseat? It's harder than it looks. True, there may be more job security and less stress for a school leader today than many other top spots in business and government. But the job of those in charge of schools is getting more and more complex, just like the rest of the jobs in the world.


Educational leadership has never been termed one of the most difficult jobs in a community, but it is far from the easiest, especially in today's world. Far beyond being a glorified "bouncer" or a rah-rah cheerleader of learning, today's school administrator has to be the equivalent of an MBA in finance, as well as a well-organized manager of people, and a master of psychology who knows a lot about child development and human relations.


The role of the administrator in overall student development is a crucial one, indeed.


Not only do administrators in school districts, state education agencies, educational service units and other education-related settings have to deal with the increasingly complex management issues that all organizations face, but they have to manage all those issues while dealing with other people's precious children.


Futures and fortunes are literally at stake . . . and feelings often aflame.


Consider the astounding range of issues a typical school day may bring: absenteeism, accountability, air quality, assessment, board tension, bond issues, budgeting, buyouts, collective bargaining, community relations, construction, data processing, depleted reserves, early retirements decimating experienced staff rolls, free speech issues, government relations, grant writing, health insurance, inservices, litigation, No Child Left Behind compliance, outdated funding formulas, parental involvement, pay-for-play sports proposals, pension crises, personnel problems, privacy of student records, property/casualty insurance, reduced revenues, religion in school, safety, scheduling, school choice, security, special education, staff diversity, substitutes, tardies, teacher evaluations, teacher overtime, teacher shortages, technology, transportation costs, unfunded mandates, union relations, utility costs, vandalism. . . .


Running schools is serious business, and it takes our best and brightest to run them well. It's being done, all over the country. If your schools aren't being run well, though, there's no time like the present to find out why.


Homework: For more about management issues, see the website of the American Association of School Administrators,


By Susan Darst Williams School Management 01 2008

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