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As the Success of Alternative Teacher Certification Grows, New Report Recommends The Same for Principals

"Alternative routes have already become the source of almost one third of our new teachers. Now it's time to think anew about the key leadership posts of principal and superintendent."

A new report released on May 20, by the Fordham Institute and the Broad FoundationBetter Leaders for America’s Schools: A Manifesto, contends that there is a “crisis in leadership” in our nation’s public schools. It maintains that the current system of superintendent and principal recruitment is insufficient to meet this crisis and needs reform if we are to ensure no child is left behind. The manifesto recommends changing the current certification process and opening recruitment to proven successful leaders from outside the education field. In the words of Fordham Foundation President Chester E. Finn Jr., “Alternative routes have already become the source of almost one third of our new teachers. Now it’s time to think anew about the key leadership posts of principal and superintendent.”

The report notes that the role of school leaders such as principals, superintendents, and administrators have changed dramatically since the states and colleges of education established school leadership certification programs. It found that the role of the school administrator, for instance, has moved from a director of instruction to that of a CEO of a small business. They must be dynamic leaders capable of handling a myriad of complex issues, not merely being overseers of our educational system. At the report’s release, Eli Broad, founder of the Broad Foundation, said “I believe that a strong, competent governing body, combined with a talented CEO and senior management team, can make a profound difference in turning our school systems from lackluster bureaucracies into high-performing enterprises.”

The initial 65 signers of the manifesto offered five recommendations for federal policy makers to adopt that would encourage the recruitment of high-quality leaders:

  1. Slash conventional certification requirements and replace them with criteria that stress leadership qualities rather than formal training and education experience.
  2. Recruit candidates from inside and beyond the education field, train them as necessary, and evaluate them on results achieved.
  3. Give principals and superintendents “sweeping authority” over their schools’ personnel, operations and budgets – and hold them accountable for results.
  4. Boost salaries to be competitive with other fields.
  5. Empower school districts to train school leaders as they see fit and to seek that training from a variety of providers, not just colleges of education.

Read more about the Fordham Foundation’s manifesto at:

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