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litigation, No Child Left Behind compliance, outdated funding formulas,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, www.aasa.org