Paul Houston, former Executive Director of AASA says . .
“ The history of the school superintendency has been a fitful journey from manager to leader. The role has evolved from an ad hoc response to local needs for school management to leading a complex community learning enterprise. It is a position that is widely influential but narrowly understood.” (2006)
“ Directly or indirectly, the position of superintendent evolved at all three of these levels for essentially the same reason--those charged with operating state government ( legislatures ) recognized the need to develop and coordinate state systems of public elementary and secondary education.”
1830-1850 Era of the Common School Movement (State Level)
Goal was to build a state system of elementary and secondary schools
Emphasis on educating all children in a common facility
“ Faced with this dilemma, state officials sought a compromise that would reasonably balance the principles of adequacy and equity in education with liberty . Their solution was to simultaneously establish state control and reaffirm local control . This seemingly contradictory approach was accomplished by creating state agencies to oversee public education, while delegating select policy powers to local school boards. The strategy effectively made local school boards legal extensions of state government. It was within this context that state officials achieved the compromise between seeking adequacy and efficiency through a state system of public education and the provision of liberty through local boards of education.” (Butts & Cremin, 1953 )
Most men who became the first superintendents had been teachers
“ Some were elevated to administration because they were perceived by school trustees, or others legally in control of the school, as possessing the qualities of a leader; some were selected because they were effective teachers; others were advanced because of political connections; and still others were promoted simply because they were men.” (Kowlaski and Reitzug, 1993)
Establishing Bureaucratic-like Structures --efficiency achieved if administrators managed the resources; teachers and others needed supervision to be sure doing work in accordance with policies
Quest for Identity and Prestige --administration recognized as responsibility separate from, and superior to, teaching, since it was management
Demarcation between Policy Development and Policy Administration --schools boards responsible for determining what should be done and administrators responsible for determining how things would get done
The First “School Reform” Era (1880’s and 1890’s)
Led by Horace Mann, Catharine Beecher, others
Goals: Standardization and Quality
Strategies: Longer school year; improved attendance, professionalization of teaching, standardized curriculum
Driven, largely, by changes in the nature of work
In 1890, a survey of 20 leading universities uncovered only two courses in educational administration
The Scientific Management Era (1920 ’s and 1930’s)
Moved away from political model towards a bureaucratic model based on business administration concepts
Based on Fredrick Taylor’s theory of “scientific management” which promised increased efficiency and higher levels of “production”
Division of labor, time management, and increased supervision were key techniques
Moved significant degree of decision making control from the boards to superintendents
Advanced the professional training of administrators
Concept still influences much of how we organize and operate school districts
The Democratic Administration Era (1940 ’s and 1950’s)
Based on teacher demand for participatory role in decision making
Also, sense that scientific management concepts were detrimental to teacher/administrator relations
Every teacher should be provided “ ...some regular organic way in which he can, directly or through representatives chosen, participate in the formulation of the controlling aims, methods, and materials of the school of which he is a part. ” John Dewey (1937)
AASA (1938): “exemplify in the relations between teachers and pupils and between administrators and teachers, the essential spirit of democracy.”
Moved focus towards issues of human relations, motivation, etc...
Hired by non-partisan members of the board of directors who are elected to four year terms
Superintendent responsible to the board of directors for carrying out district policy, administering the operation of the district, supervising district personnel, and advising the board of directors on all educational matters for the welfare and interest of the students
RCW 28A.330.050 Duties of superintendent as secretary of the board. In addition to the duties as prescribed in RCW28A.400.030, the school district superintendent, as secretary of the board, may be authorized by the board to act as business manager, purchasing agent, and/or superintendent of buildings and janitors, and charged with the special care of school buildings and other property of the district, and he or she shall perform other duties as the board may direct.
RCW28A.400.010 Employment of superintendent--Superintendent ’s qualifications, general powers, term, contract renewal. In all districts the board of directors shall elect a superintendent who shall have such qualification as the local school board alone shall determine. The superintendent shall have supervision over the several departments of the schools thereof and carry out such other powers and duties as prescribed by law. Notwithstanding the provisions of RCW28A.400.010(1), the board may contract
with such superintendent for a term not to exceed three years when deemed in the best interest of the district. The right to renew a contract of employment with any school superintendent shall rest solely with the discretion of the school board employing such school superintendent.
• RCW28A.400.02o Directors ’ and superintendents’ signatures filed with auditor. Every school district director and school district superintendent, on assuming the duties of his or her office,shall place his or her signature, certified to by some school district office, on file in the office of the country auditor.
RCW28A.400.30 Superintendent duties. In addition to such other duties as a district school board shall prescribe the school district superintendent shall:
(1) Attend all meetings of the board of directors and cause to have made a record as to the proceedings thereof.
(2) Keep such records and reports and in such form as the district board of directors require or in such form as required by law or rule or regulation of higher administrative agencies and turn the same over to his or her successor.
(3) Keep accurate and detailed accounts of all receipts and expenditures of school money. At each annual school meeting the superintendent must present his or her record book of board proceedings for public inspection, and shall make a statement of the financial condition of the district and such record book must always be open for pubic inspection.
(4) Give such notice of all annual or special elections as otherwise required by law; also give notice of the regular and special meetings of the board of directors.
(5) Sign all warrants ordered to be issued by the board of directors.
(6) Carry out all orders of the board of directors made at any regular or special board meeting.