After serving as editor-in-chief of District Administration magazine a few years ago, and then leaving temporarily to work on other projects, it is an enormous personal privilege to return as executive editor and greet our many readers again. Or, as they say in the movies, “He’s back...!”
Years ago, I wrote an editorial titled “Re-, Re-, Re- Reform,” because it seems there were calls to “reform” schools and the curriculum each and every year of my career in K12 and higher education. Movements to make schools more conservative or more liberal were soon countered with movements in the opposite direction. And so-called “revolutionary” programs—especially in science, math, and technology—were often taken to the curb in less time than it took them to launch. In addition, we still play catch-up with the world in standardized test results, even though our students run circles around students in other countries in creativity and innovation. School reform will always be with us.
But we are now seeing organized push-back on current initiatives, including high-stakes testing, teacher ratings, lengthening the school calendar and tying merit pay to student achievement. For example, in the recent Chicago teachers’ strike over these issues, the 26,000-member union reacted to pressure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel by announcing it was “done with reform!” Such challenges are spreading across the country and affecting every district, so with the competing cries for reforms and various groups knocking on school doors, what’s a superintendent to do?
Tapping DA Expertise
To sort everything out, the key, of course, is to stay up-to-date and informed, and that is where District Administration and its professional resources and services come in. For example, in this issue we look at implementing teacher evaluation, sustaining professional development, controlling access to buildings, and the growing interest in “flipped” classrooms.
We pledge to bring you the best and most up-to-date information to help you do your job better, through our expert feature articles, columns, news updates, district profiles, critical reports and product reviews. We keep you informed on how your most successful colleagues manage their districts, and let you know about new professional opportunities. In fact, while other education publications cut back and drop issues to try and survive, the growing demand for DA is bucking that trend, and we expanded to 12 issues this year. Next month, we publish the annual “Reader’s Choice Top 100 Products” feature, so make sure you are subscribed and stay tuned!
Enhanced Online Resources
We also offer a dramatically enhanced website (districtadministration.com) where you can read digital editions of every DA issue, find searchable information on any topic pertinent to administrators and identify countless resources to equip your staff. In addition, we inform you immediately when something happens that you should know about. For example, when Chicago’s teachers walked out of their jobs, we posted an interview with longtime superintendent Randall Collins, executive director of the District Administration Leadership Institute (daleadershipinstitute.com), on what superintendents can learn from the strike and how he would have handled negotiations differently (see page 62). The DA Leadership Institute (DALI) offers a variety of resources, including executive summits at key locations in the U.S., that you will want to find out about.
Finally, to keep you informed on breaking news, DA produces a free email newsletter called DA Daily, and specialized newsletters such as District CIO. We also offer free web seminars on timely topics including Using Tests Effectively, Assessing the Effectiveness of Technology, and Digital Literacy, so take advantage of those resources as well.
It’s great to be back, and I look forward to meeting you here each month!
Odvard Egil Dyrli