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



Appreciation Given And More Transparency Needed

On behalf of the some 900 retirees from the city of Chattanooga, I would like to publicly thank the members of the Chattanooga City Council for reversing their decision about the retirees insurance provider. We would also like to thank the staff that worked diligently to make sure that we could continue with our current coverage.  We would also like to plead with the council ... (click for more)

Alabama Worked Overtime To Right The Ship

What a majority of the good citizens of Alabama taught the rest of our country last night is that if one waits long enough and suffers long enough being ridiculed, stepped on, abused, ignored, and hurt, the day of reckoning will come.  How that happens has become akin to what today is known as the political process.  I am an experienced FDR Democrat but a staunch supporter ... (click for more)

Man Barges Into Woman's Home In MLK Neighborhood; Tries To Rape Her; Photos Of Suspect Released; Thomas Carr, 28, Is Arrested

Chattanooga Police said a man barged into a woman's home in the MLK Neighborhood around noon on Tuesday and tried to rape the woman.   Thomas Lee Carr, 28, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Carr is charged with one count of attempted rape. Police said, "The victim was followed by the suspect into her residence where the victim was then ... (click for more)

Moccasin Bend Resident Asks City To Move Police Firing Range So He Can Open Bed And Breakfast Inn

A Moccasin Bend resident is asking the city to move a police firing range from off the historic Bend so he can open a bed and breakfast inn. Steve Holmes also said the move needs to take place because the new Moccasin Bend National Park is set to begin implementing its management plan early next year. He said the park should bring 250,000 visitors to Chattanooga each year with ... (click for more)

Hayes Surpasses 1,000 Points As Lady Canes Beat Walker Valley 54-43

East Hamilton sophomore Madison Hayes scored 17 points in a 54-43 victory at Walker County in Cleveland on Tuesday night and pushed her career scoring past the 1,000-point mark in the process. Hayes scored a team-high 19 points Friday in a 52-40 victory over Notre Dame in the East-West Classic, giving her 996 points in her career, including eighth-grade and freshman seasons ... (click for more)

McMinn County Slaps Soddy-Daisy With Two 5-3A Losses

McMinn County roared into Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday night and blasted the Trojans and Lady Trojans lop-sided victories in District 5-3A high school basketball action. The Cherokees (3-5, 3-0) blitzed the Trojans (3-5, 1-2) early to build a 26-14 halftime lead, built a 20-point lead and cruised to an impressive 58-30 victory. The earlier game was even more one-sided as the ... (click for more)