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Principal selection has not significantly changed since the 1950’s and is often unsystematic. While the role of the principal has evolved greatly over the last 60 years, the methods used for selection have remained stagnant. In the 1950’s, principals’ duties centered primarily on staffing and facility management. Today, school principals may be responsible for tens of millions of dollars between facilities, personnel, and discretionary funding.

Otha Thornton was elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association, making history as the first African-American male leader of the organization. He previously served on the Georgia PTA board of directors, and the PTA’s national board of directors.

Recalling the myth of Sisyphus repeatedly pushing the same boulder up a mountain in his new book, author and educator Frederick M. Hess explains how the K12 education leadership is faltering, and how it can rise above. “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, February 2013) is a new book and consequently, a small, growing movement for educators trying to take a machete to administrative red tape and contracts that tend to paralyze district leaders from doing what’s best and right for the students. 


Oceanographer David L. Evans was appointed executive director of the National Science Teachers Association in February, and will work to promote STEM education and professional development for the Next Generation Science Standards.

Superintendent Gary P. Richards (center) meets with Jane Anderson, human resources director, and Andrew Colati, social studies instructor at Wilton High School, where the district’s administrative offices are located.

According to Wilton (Conn.) School District Superintendent Gary G. Richards, most people who move to Wilton do so for its high-quality schools, which has struck a successful balance between educating its most advanced learners and ones who need more help.

President Barack Obama talks to pupils from Lenora Academy in Snellville, Ga., during a stop at the Varsity restaurant in Atlanta last summer.

What will another President Obama term mean to K12 superintendents and school districts? While indications are found in the Democratic national platform, the speeches, interviews, and K12 documents from the president, and education plans on the White House website, we asked longtime school superintendent Randall Collins, executive director of the District Administration Leadership Institute ( to share professional insights. Here is his conversation with Odvard Egil Dyrli, executive editor of District Administration.

Eugene G. White reads to students during a “Read Across America” event in his district. One of White’s reforms was to centralize the curriculum, and in turn, better support students.


Eugene G. White is a superintendent of firsts. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school in his segregated town of Phenix City in southeast Alabama. Both academically and athletically inclined, White scored high enough grades—and points—to earn a basketball scholarship to Alabama A&M University, where his education led to his becoming a teacher, basketball coach and the first African-American high school principal in two Indiana high schools.

The Whittier Union High School District administrators who organized the Whatever It Takes campaign.

In 1969, a concern with the deep inequity of students’ experiences and opportunities in traditional school systems first drove social studies teacher Rick DuFour to begin advocating for the kind of reforms that would jell into his transformative model, Professional Learning Communities at Work, some 16 years later. The core belief of the PLC at Work model—that all students should have access to the most rigorous curriculum and that all students should learn, was counter to common practices in the era when DuFour taught.

Josh Powell poses for photo with visiting children.

The resounding cry from Joshua Powell supporters, the Kentucky superintendent who in six years turned two underperforming districts into successful ones, is that his method “actually works.”

His first job as superintendent was at Cloverport Independent where led the district from 165th out of 174 state rankings to 10th in three years.  In 2008, Powell accepted his second superintendent job at Union County Public Schools where he replicated his efforts, leading the district from 161st to 52nd in three years.