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From the Editor

Wanted: Prudent Leadership


By the time this magazine is in your hands we’ll know who our new national leader will be. Whichever way the election goes, the new president will have the big job of managing the financial crisis that our country faces and will have an impact on how the No Child Left Behind law may be reformed, impacting every school district.

And on the school level, it will be the superintendents and the boards of education who will have the big job of managing how this financial crisis and the bailout, among other issues, impact their constituents. And they will do this while continuing to address and balance skyrocketing energy and fuel costs. Which line items and discretionary projects will be cut and which will remain? As they should, taxpayers will be watching carefully—most likely more carefully than ever.

As they should, taxpayers will be watching carefully.

Of late we’ve witnessed at least one district’s management team that went into high media self-destruction, when Rudy Crew, former superintendent of the Miami-Dade Public Schools, ran into conflict with the board amid declining enrollment and rising budget tensions. So how do school boards track progress toward goals? How does the public accurately know whether the board and superintendent are fulfilling their roles effectively? In “Turning the Tables on Assessment,” Chuck Namit, president of Strategem LLC, in the first of two articles reveals an effective process of board self-assessment and superintendent evaluation that we think could be helpful to your district. Such assessment and evaluation are fundamental to the success of a district, and without it progress and goal achievement cannot be measured.

This is also the time of year when our high school seniors are making their post-high school plans. For those who plan to pursue higher education, now is the time to decide which colleges to apply to. The credit crunch may limit their ability to get the loans that were easily available to previous seniors, as the population of students entering college peaks. Let’s hope that they are being proactive in obtaining the guidance required for financing their education, and that the credit crunch won’t deter them from their chosen path. College consultants and syndicated columnists Howard and Matthew Greene, in “Simplifying College Admissions,” share the trends that your guidance teams need to know.

And with money being tight, today there isn’t any room for bad purchasing decisions. We invite you to visit the New Products section of our Web site,, and comment on or suggest a product that has made a positive difference within your district. You’ll help to steer your colleagues—our readers—to the best education products available. In mid-January our 2008 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products special issue will be published, and it will be full of input from you, as well as from our full editorial staff. In our new products blog, Product Posts, Products Editor Kurt Dyrli writes cleverly and insightfully about cutting-edge innovations in an array of products and Web resources. Check it out at


Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor,