Leadership Day 2008 - We have neglected our leaders
[I'm late for my self-initiated Leadership Day 2008. I went to visit my mom for a few days and forgot to take my laptop...]
Most of our school leaders have received no training whatsoever when it comes to 21st century schooling. If you asked your average principal or superintendent what it means to to prepare students for a digital, global society, she would be hard-pressed to give you a halfway-coherent answer. If you asked an auditorium full of administrators if they've ever heard of The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, you'd be lucky to get a few raised hands. Why is this so? Because...
In sum, all of the primary learning and support mechanisms for school administrators are failing woefully when it comes to 21st century leadership preparation. To paraphrase Joel Barker, we're focusing on today at the expense of tomorrow.
We should be putting a great deal of pressure on school districts, state departments of education, university preparation programs, and national- and state-level leadership associations to pay greater attention to 21st century schools and the leadership skills necessary to get there. We also should be asking for greater emphasis on leadership training from our corporate and foundational partners and our policymakers. The lack of attention by any one of these groups is dismaying. The aggregate lack of attention by all of them is downright irresponsible.
We must set aside dedicated training time, programs, and monies for our leaders. Administrators have their own unique needs and responsibilities; their training should be different than that of other educators. We can't simply lump them in with teachers. Nor should we continue to offer generic professional development monies or programs without designating some of them specifically for administrators. Our pattern of block grants instead of administrator-only set-asides seems to always leave our leaders short.
Finally, we should recognize that most of this is not our leaders' fault. Sure, they should be demanding more from the entities that serve them. But it's our collective shame that every aspect of their learning system fails them.
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