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Jsl Vol 4-N1

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The Journal of School Leadership is broadening the conversation about schools and leadership and is currently accepting manuscripts. We welcome manuscripts based on cutting-edge research from a wide variety of theoretical perspectives and methodological orientations. The editorial team is particularly interested in working with international authors, authors from traditionally marginalized populations, and in work that is relevant to practitioners around the world. Growing numbers of educators and professors look to the six bimonthly issues to: deal with problems directly related to contemporary school leadership practice teach courses on school leadership and policy use as a quality reference in writing articles about school leadership and improvement.

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Letter to the Editor

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Seldom are we, as members of the professoriate, given the opportunity to share our unbridled thoughts and concerns with a given audience. Generally, we are asked to write about a certain topic or to react to a given theoretical or practical concept. As we teach in our graduate programs, we are often compelled to review the literature in a frenetic attempt to inform our students about the myriad issues that comprise the essence of our discipline. Dr. Paula Short has deviated from the aforementioned need for structure by asking me to take this opportunity to share with the JSL readership some basic thoughts that I have with respect to our profession. What a tremendous opportunity–what a tremendous task!

Throughout the past few years, it has been my pleasure to serve this journal as a member of the editorial review board and, most recently, as a guest book review editor. During that time, I have reviewed many excellent manuscripts and a concomitant number of excellent book reviews. The Journal of School Leadership has truly filled a void in our profession by linking theory with practice. As Willower (1993) recently stated, this journal has brought praxis to the forefront.

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Linking School Level Innovations with an Urban School District’s Central Office

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IRA E. BOGOTCH1

CORMELL R. BROOKS1

ABSTRACT: This descriptive study of school principal-central office relations is framed within the context of school restructuring. It specifically looks at leadership perceptions of school level innovations and reports the level of awareness and support by job functions and location given to such innovations by an urban school system central office. The findings indicate that awareness and involvement were limited to just two specific departments: area superintendents and educational programs. The former has direct supervisory responsibilities over principals; the latter seeks to bring innovative ideas to the school district. Both departments are located as satellite offices of the central office. Other central office administrators did not demonstrate the levels of value reorientation needed for school system restructuring.

Successful implementation of school-based innovations invariably affects the structure and thinking inside central administrative offices. “Being ready for school-based improvement requires a reorientation in the way we think and operate in our schools and at the district level” (Caldwell and Wood, 1988, p. 50). Value reorientation requires the deepest and most significant commitment to change (Tye and Novotney, 1968). If, however, the primary objectives for change are to minimize the effects of downsizing or to acquire short term funds through external sources, then it is unlikely that the current round of structural change proposals will be any more successful than those advanced during previous school reform eras.

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Restructuring Educational Leadership Preparation: Identifying Needed Conditions

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JOHN C. DARESH1

ABSTRACT: In this article, a description is presented of the strategy and steps that were followed at the University of Northern Colorado in restructuring its educational leadership preparation program. Details are provided concerning the ways in which changes were made, and how these changes were supported through attention to personnel issues, linkage relationships within the university, and linkages outside the university.

During the past four years, the program in Educational Leadership at the University of Northern Colorado has undergone major revision and restructuring. This has involved a range of activities, from simply changing the name of the organizational unit (from “Department of Educational Administration” to “Division of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies”), to the design of a completely new curriculum which emphasizes a set of core learning experiences instead of individual courses focusing only on administrative tasks, and the recruitment of virtually a completely new academic faculty. Perhaps most important has been the refocusing of the fundamental assumptions that have guided the new unit. The Division now serves to provide a coherent and integrated program in educational leadership (as contrasted with a menu of disconnected, individual courses) designed to assist individual learners as they engage in a process of personal formation. In turn, this process is focused on the attainment of leadership skills and personalized visions (rather than simply completing mandated requirements for state licensure and credentials directed only at formal administrative roles such as principalships or superintendencies).

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Principals Who Empower Teachers

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PEGGY C. KIRBY1

ROBERT COLBERT2

ABSTRACT: Efforts to restructure schools typically include broadening decision-making arenas to include teacher input. Principals, however, have not been prepared to share leadership roles with their faculties, nor have researchers examined the characteristics of principals who are willing and able to empower teachers.

Leader authenticity has been associated with more open climates in schools. In this study, the authors examined the relationship between principal authenticity and faculty empowerment in 30 high schools. One aspect of teacher empowerment—expanding teacher knowledge—was significantly related to leader authenticity. Implications for principal and teacher preparation programs as well as principal selection are discussed.

Although recent calls for educational reform argue for more autonomy at the school site, there is little empirical research suggesting how best to shift decision-making power to teachers and site administrators. Conceptual arguments, how-to guides, and testimonials from practitioners are our only “evidence” of the success of school empowerment (David, 1989). Effective schools’ research has posited the principal as a key element in sustained school achievement. The principal’s ability to organize and coordinate the work life of the school shapes the school environment, which in turn affects student achievement (Heck, Larsen and Marcoulides, 1990). Given, however, that principals have unique leadership styles and that no one style appears to be most effective (DeBevoise, 1984), it becomes difficult to assist administrators who are attempting to empower their faculties.

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Performance Skill Development of the Aspiring Principal Integrated into Principal Preparation

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DENNIS W. VAN BERKUM1

ABSTRACT: The preparation of school administrators, particularly school principals, has become a topic of discussion by many groups. Common to all discussions is the question “What knowledge and skills should aspiring administrators have and how should they be prepared?” Bennis (1989) indicated “how we translate this knowledge into action—is both complex and deep, as well as chronically elusive” (p. 30).

The purpose of this article is to describe how an educational administration program model blends a knowledge base of educational administration and the performance skills needed for effective practice. The discussion focuses on the performance skill development of the aspiring administrator using the conceptual framework of the program model. It also offers performance-based illustrations and initial program evaluation.

During the past decade, the preparation of school administrators, particularly school principals, has been a topic of discussion. Lipham (1981) stated “Preservice programs should be upgraded. Currently, candidates for the principalship are largely self-selected, meagerly supported, inadequately prepared and haphazardly placed” (p. 19). Rallis and Highsmith (1986) claimed that most administrators are trained as managers. They are not prepared as leaders to meet the needs of schools. The Vermont Educational Leadership Task Force (1988) concluded that preservice training programs provide little relevance to what the participants encounter in initial administrative positions. The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) reported “The coming of systems approaches, failure of the theory based movement, accountability pressures, and the introduction of new technologies into a labor-intensive field (along with some sound curriculum development) have rekindled new interest in performance-based approaches” (p. 1). The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA, 1989) recommended development of a common core of knowledge and skills, grounded in the problems of practice. In spite of calls for reform, pre service programs have not changed significantly. Common to the discussions is the question “What knowledge and skill should aspiring administrators have and how should they be prepared?”

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Superintendent Behaviors and Activities Linked to School Effectiveness: Perceptions of Principals and Superintendents

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GLORIA GRIFFIN1

EDWARD W. CHANCE2

ABSTRACT: This article focuses on the behaviors, activities, and perceptions of superintendents in the creation of effective school districts. It also examines the principal’s perception of the superintendent’s role in leading a district to a state of effectiveness. School districts were viewed as macro social systems and school sites as micro social systems for purposes of this leadership study.

Excellence in public schools is high on America’s educational agenda. Across the nation, states are mandating school reform. Those chosen to lead schools as superintendents are challenged to develop progressive programs that will establish excellence in their school districts.

During the last half of the twentieth century, there has been an intensive search for effective schools; that is, schools that provide all students with a quality educational experience regardless of their background and socio-economic status (Berreth, 1991; Levine, 1991; Miller, 1983). Researchers have identified teachers’ high expectations, school climate, instructional focus, measurement of student achievement, and the role of the principal as instructional leader as effective schools correlates. The role of the principal as instructional leader has dominated the effective schools research findings (Bridges, 1982; Brookover and Lezotte, 1977; Edmonds, 1979; Edmonds and Frederiksen, 1979; Levine, 1991; Lezotte, Edmonds, and Ratner, 1974).

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The Priorities of Elementary and Secondary Principals for the Criteria Used in the Teacher Selection Process

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A. WILLIAM PLACE1

THELBERT L. DRAKE1

ABSTRACT: In this study, elementary and secondary principals, from the states Ohio and Illinois, were not found to have different priorities for the selection of teachers regardless of the area/focal position being sought. The higher selection priorities are enthusiasm for teaching, communication skills, and interviewer’s evaluation. The lower priorities are reference information, grade point average, and self-purposing. More research is needed to clarify how these criteria actually are used. Administrators and potential candidates need to be aware of and concentrate on the higher priorities in relation both to how they are demonstrated and to how they are evaluated.

Recent trends toward teacher empowerment, site-based decision making and the building of professional culture in schools make the hiring of teachers one of the most important tasks faced by school principals. Unfortunately, the criteria used by principals in the selection process have not been the subject of much research. The research to date has not sufficiently addressed questions such as (1) what criteria need to be assessed; (2) which of those criteria are judged to be the most important by those using them in the process; and (3) what variables influence principal priorities.

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The Twin Engines of School Reform for the 1990s: The School Sites and National Coalitions

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JOHN L. KEEDY1

ABSTRACT: The school sites and national coalitions are projected as major players in this decade’s restructuring efforts to help transform our society from a goods to a knowledge-work economy. As school sites are provided both autonomy and accountability for school improvement and as the need for student self-directed learning becomes more imperative, principal-teacher and teacher-student relationships will be transformed. Due to political, economic, and school-related pressures, principals and teachers will become collegial problem-solvers as school sites function largely as self-administrated units. As information technology makes knowledge more accessible and less controllable through textbooks, teachers and students will form classroom learning communities. The United States is entering a nationalizing of education era as national coalitions become major players on the school reform stage. These coalitions will provide student assessment systems and new workplace designs for schooling. Within this national framework, school-site personnel will craft personalized learning environments. After 100 years of standard design, schools will become different. Implications are then made for principal training and for the principal associations.

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Tying Paulo Freire’s Concepts to Restructuring

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LINDA HAMPTON WESSON1

DAVID HOLMAN1

JUDY VANATTA1

ABSTRACT: The nature of restructuring requires that leadership have new frameworks for interpreting the actions of teachers and participants, as well as for interpreting their own behavior. Paulo Freire has defined characteristics of people as they move towards higher levels of thinking and grow in their ability to become part of the decision-making structure. Combining the thoughts of Freire with restructuring provides a conceptual model that allows leaders to interpret the organizational environment so that higher cognitive abilities are recognized and participant decision making is enhanced.

As schools move towards restructuring, leadership must recognize that decision-making power will shift from a centralized authority to the teacher or participant. Such a shift will require greater cognitive participation by teachers as they take on more decision-making responsibility. However, the move towards individualized decision making, along with the corresponding need for increased critical thinking, will not occur in controlling environments often typified by fear and mistrust.

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