Leading for Learning
September 10, 2008
This collection of articles considers research on the characteristics common to charter school leaders. Though the schools themselves vary widely in organizational structure, curriculum choices, and mission, successful leaders of them tend to have much in common. The ideal charter principal is often presumed to be a person of near-mythical capabilities, containing in one body the qualities of superintendent, principal, teacher, parent, construction worker, and chief financial officer. That perception, this compilation notes, is not reality. The best leadership model, it seems, is what today is often termed "distributed leadership," a set-up in which responsibility is shared between two or three highly driven and dedicated people with different but complementary skill sets. Such a model allows for specialized handling of responsibilities, such as fundraising or facilities management, and makes it easier to grow leaders in-house and involve teachers in management decisions. The articles also report that charter board members, like regular school board members, often misunderstand their oversight roles and become mired in the minutiae of school operations, for example. A successful board member, readers learn, understands the charter laws in his state and remains focused on supporting his school's vision. This compilation (with contributions from Education Week reporters and Center on Reinventing Public Education staff members) has much more to say about what good charter school leadership looks like. It's available here.
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