Dallas Morning News: Why would a new superintendent want to lead your school district?

Learn more about Ioanna Papas.
Ioanna Papas
Director, Communications
George W. Bush Institute

School districts across the Nation are experiencing a mass exit of superintendents. What questions should these school boards be asking and what should they be looking for?

In an op-ed for The Dallas Morning News, our education experts explain what school boards should look for when hiring a superintendent and how to set that superintendent up for success. Anne Wicks, the Ann Kimball Johnson Director of the Education Reform Initiative, and Bill McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the Bush Institute, have been researching some of the top school districts in Texas and a few items stood out to them.

“Districts need strong leaders in their superintendents, but they also require high-quality governance practices at the board level, research-based innovations to strengthen academics, and a robust community ecosystem to surround the district with support.

These intertwined elements certainly stood out to us last year as we examined Texas school districts for the George W. Bush Institute’s Texas Story project, an examination of district progress in three Texas cities — Austin, Dallas, and Houston.”

Wicks and McKenzie share examples of how these three items will help a candidate be successful as a superintendent. 

“The most effective superintendents understand that while they must deal with such adult issues as quarrels over budgets, bond issues, book lists and personnel, they must also stay focused on keeping children on-track for future opportunity. School boards and communities that let the adult issues overwhelm student outcomes make it hard to recruit the kinds of leaders who can make a difference for kids.

Prioritizing governance, innovation and ecosystems is a great place for board members to start when seeking leaders focused on student success.”

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