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New York Times Room for Debate

 

An Outsider Perspective Isn't Bad

November 11, 2010

By Marcus A. Winters

Public education — like any industry — faces certain unique challenges. Public schools are not businesses, and teachers are not identical to workers in other professions. Any leader who assumes she can run a behemoth public bureaucracy like the New York City Public School System as if it were a factory floor (or a publishing company) is in for an education of her own.

Nonetheless, good leaders recognize and work within the context that is provided to them. While running a public school system clearly requires a different approach than running a private sector business would, many of the important basics still hold. For instance, like a business, a public school system should be interested in a particular output (in this case, student proficiency) and implement policies that maximize it.

A modern school leader’s job is to look at a system, identify what works and what doesn�t, and attempt to improve outcomes. Classroom experience may help, but it is certainly not a prerequisite for success. In fact, a schools chief with an outsider’s perspective may be more willing to consider reforms that break from the status quo. New York City’s outgoing chancellor, Joel Klein, is proof positive that a degree from a college of education is not required to successfully run a school system.

Promising policies have begun to take root in our public schools despite strong opposition from those with education backgrounds; policies that impose greater accountability for failure, reward success, increase parental choices and open the teaching profession to those who have not graduated from an education college hold substantial promise for improving student proficiency. These policies are generally championed by “outsiders.”

Original Source: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/11/10/whos-qualified-to-run-new-york-city-schools/an-outsider-perspective-isnt-bad

 

 
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