What Is A Superintendent Of Schools?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It is often said that the most important role of a board of education is to hire its superintendent. I think that is a somewhat a valid claim. Certainly if you value public education, you must have competent leadership managing the daily operations of the school district. A good superintendent leads the districts educational, financial and administrative performance; facilitates the performance of all personnel; and responds to and informs stakeholders and policymakers about the performance and leadership of the district. 

Having met many, if not most, superintendents of schools here in Tennessee, I believe we do have some excellent leaders across our state. Probably one of the most important duties of the superintendent is to make sure district students are learning and achieving at the highest level possible. A superintendent must understand effective academic practices and be supportive of the teachers and administrators in the district. Leadership, vision, and strategic thinking are critical skills for every superintendent. A successful superintendent is should also be an effective and excellent communicator. If the only voice a superintendent listens to is his/her own, or a few members of the school board, public education will eventually lose community support. 

In the last few years, I have seen some horrifying treatment of superintendents across the state. I have seen them maligned by anonymous message boards, attacked in the media, belittled by their own school board members, often unfairly. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote: “Great minds talk about ideas; good minds talk about events; small minds talk about people.” 

Does that mean that we simply accept decisions from superintendents, without challenging them? Of course not! We must particularly hold them accountable in regard to educational, financial and administrative performance. However, we should provide them latitude in regards to leadership, vision and strategic thinking on how to address the performance in those areas. And we must expect them to communicate effectively to all stakeholders. 

The American Association of School Administrators suggests that the superintendent, like principals, must also demonstrate a keen understanding of teaching, learning and what works for students. As a change leader, a successful superintendent should emphasize the efficient use of resources, personnel, and data to break down resistance and drive systemic change; empower board and personnel to set goals, measure results, develop accountability, and support planning, evaluation, and resource allocation. 

Our state has made some incredible strides in public education. It is an accomplishment that we should admire and respect. It begins with the men and women in the classroom across this state, and we must also acknowledge the hard work of those who lead our schools. 

J.C. Bowman
Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville



Commissioner Mackey Thanks The Voters

I am writing to thank the voters who have re-elected me to represented them on the Hamilton County Commission. I am especially humbled at the high level of trust that was given to me. In the primary I received 72o percent of the vote. In the general election conducted last week an amazing 83 percent of the voters supported me. Again I must say that I am humbled and I say ... (click for more)

Make One Of The Proposed Surplus City Buildings Into A Local History Museum - And Response

The city of Chattanooga currently has no history center or museum. That is because several years ago it was conveyed to the public, in the blinking of an eye, that $9 million that had been raised mysteriously vanished for reasons unexplainable to this date. In the meantime, valuable artifacts and collections are sitting in cellars, basements and storage facilities instead of being ... (click for more)

Pinkston's Office Seeking The Death Penalty Against Trio Charged In Murder Of State Witness Bianca Horton

The office of District Attorney Neal Pinkston is seeking the death penalty against three men charged in the murder of state witness Bianca Horton. The intent to seek the death penalty was filed against Andre Grier, Courtney High and Charles Shelton. They were among 42 alleged members of the Athens Park Bloods gang charged in a state RICO action. Ms. Horton was gunned down ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Mayor, City Council To Appoint Phil Noblett As City Attorney

Mayor Andy Berke and the Chattanooga City Council said they will introduce a joint resolution next  Tuesday  confirming Phil Noblett as city attorney and chief legal officer for the city of Chattanooga. A native of Asheville, N.C., Mr. Noblett received his J.D. degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham and has been a licensed ... (click for more)

Baylor Rallies To Beat Stubborn East Hamilton

There’s nothing quite like playing one of the best volleyball teams in the state to open the 2018 season, but that’s exactly what the East Hamilton Lady Hurricanes did at home Tuesday evening. Facing the defending Division II state champion Baylor Lady Red Raiders, the Lady Canes didn’t seem to be the least bit intimidated by Baylor and even grabbed early momentum by winning ... (click for more)

CCS, Red Bank, Ooltewah Volleyball Winners Tuesday

Chattanooga Christian, Red Bank and Ooltewah all won volleyball matches Tuesday with CCS improving to 2-0 with the 3-1 district win over Grace. Soddy Daisy defeated Hixson by a 3-1 final while Lookout Valley split a pair of matches, the Lady Yellow Jackets losing to Gordon Lee before defeating Ringgold. Soddy Daisy prevailed by scores of 25-10, 19-25, 25-8 and 25-21.  ... (click for more)