Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Oregonian and Oregon Education Leadership

I was gratified to see The Oregonian editorial board publicly question the state leadership of K-12 education.  I have been dismayed by what appears to be a lack of strong leadership and, particularly, well-qualified leadership.

Now, I know little of Susan Castillo and therefore don't feel in a position to judge her.  She certainly seems almost anonymous and has no formal qualifications for the job - but neither one means she does not do the job well. Many effective leaders are quiet consensus builders and, quite frankly, the research I have seen from the education research establishment is generally pretty dismal so an advanced degree in education is not necessarily a bonus.  But given the startlingly poor showing of the state in the Race for the Top grant competition, it suggests that much more forceful and effective leadership is necessary.  Yes, there are a lot of legitimate concerns about Race for the Top, but money is money and the state's poorly funded K-12 education system could use all the help it can get.  Besides, if there is one new welcome trend in education it is the move toward evidence based policy, so we should not be afraid of bad ideas sticking.

The Oregonian identifies a major problem: if we are only paying this position 65% or so of a competitive wage, it is going to be hard to attract a talented leader.  I think they are right to call for a substantial increase in the wage of the Superintendent position.

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