AASA Responds to Brookings Report
Daniel A. Domenech, the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement upon the release of a report issued by the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings about the superintendency and its impact on student achievement.
“The superintendent’s job is one of the most difficult jobs in America and one of the most important. Superintendents play a critical role in ensuring our nation’s schools are best positioned to meet the ever changing and diverse needs of our students. Working collaboratively with school boards, principals, teachers and parents, superintendents lead efforts to provide world-class educational opportunities.
“The work portfolio of today’s superintendent is increasingly diverse. It encompasses programs to increase student achievement, the diversification of student and staff populations, the explosion of technology, expanded expectations from local, state and federal governments, the school board and community, and the overall globalization of society.
“A former superintendent myself, I am proud of the work being done by the more than 10,000 superintendents and other school district leaders who are part of AASA. As schools across the nation kick off the 2014-15 school year, it’s important to recognize the myriad of efforts that go into running a school system, efforts and programs that reach beyond items directly identifiable as improving student achievement.
“I am proud of the work being done by superintendents who are providing meals for children in their classrooms who otherwise would be hungry. No matter how qualified the teacher in front of the classroom is, if a kid is hungry, that child is going to have a difficult time trying to learn. Through our Children’s Program, superintendents across the country are providing school breakfasts for students, particularly children in poverty. We’ve seen enormous gains in this program. For example, in the Schenectady City School District, which has an 80 percent free-reduced price meal rate, the district’s superintendent credits the program, in large part, for the district’s skyrocketing improvement in attendance—a direct correlation to higher student achievement.
“I am proud of the work being done by superintendents who are creating successful models of digital learning for the students and communities. More than 100 superintendents were in Washington, D.C. in July to advocate for the modernization of the E-Rate program, the FCC program that paved the way in expanding Internet access to the nation’s schools and libraries over the last 18 years. The superintendents recognized not only the strong success record of E-Rate, but also the absolute necessity that school connectivity is in today’s educational opportunity. Their advocacy proved vital to shaping a final set of changes that strengthens—not undermines—the E-Rate program.
“The Brookings report is correct by referencing the relatively short tenure of the superintendent. We have long tracked superintendent tenure and it is a number we have watched hold relatively steady. The ‘short’ tenure is something most common in very large, very poor, very small, urban and/or rural schools. Beyond that, though, the overall average tenure of a superintendent remains close to 6 years, falling just slightly from the long-standing average of 7 years. AASA stands ready to support all of the nation’s superintendents, whether new or returning, long-tenured or short-tenured. At the end of the day we are a national organization committed to serving the nation’s public school superintendents and to support their work to expand educational opportunity, regardless of community type, tenure, age or seniority.
“I extend an invitation to the authors of the Brookings study to meet with me and discuss further the superintendency, aspects of the job and the enormous pressures that go along with it. Having been a superintendent for nearly 30 years, I look forward to engaging in that conversation. I would also encourage them to attend one of our conferences. That way, they can speak directly with superintendents from all over the country—they’re the ones who serve as a voice for our children.”
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 10,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org. Follow AASA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AASAHQ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AASApage. Information on AASA Children’s Programs on Twitter @AASATotalChild.
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