Jeffrey A. Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, an education-minded group of business executives, recently told the State Board of Education that the state needs more “transformative” leaders.
His proposal, the Journal Inquirer reported, is that the state loosen its accreditation restrictions on school principals and other administrators. That would allow the state to expand its alternate certification program to principals, creating something similar to the path it now offers for midcareer professionals who want to bring their earned expertise to teaching through the Alternate Route to Certification program, offered by New Britain’s own Charter Oak State College.
We think it’s a good idea.First, potential leaders would bring to education “real-world” experience. That is not to denigrate traditional education, merely to point out that these men and women would bring knowledge from the state’s finance, bioscience, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors that would contribute to preparing students for their post-high school experiences.
While we understand that education is meant broadly to prepare young people for adulthood and their role as citizens, it also should help them make career determinations, based on an understanding of the needs of the businesses that might employ them — one reason why this group of executives is interested in what is going on in schools today. Certainly they hope to see an educational curriculum that leads to skills-based employability.
Second, potential leaders drawn from other sectors of the economy could bring a different style of leadership to our schools.
Particularly in our lowest performing schools, the kind of can-do thinking that motivates many entrepreneurs might be more accepting of change and experimentation. The experiences of these men and women are likely to be “market” oriented; that is, they focus on the customer — in this case, the child education consumer — and deliver a product tailored to him or her, in a way that the youngster can relate to, resulting in greater education success.
Finally, this proposal would, quite simply, increase the pool of potential principals, giving boards of education more choice and less frustration when they are seeking new leaders.
The bottom line? As Villar told the state board, “Educational leadership is one of the most important factors to student attainment.”
If we truly want the best education for our children, we must have the best leadership, from wherever it comes.
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