COMMENTARY: Administrators losing confidence in education leadership

Delaware school and district administrators take pride in working with students and families regarding educational opportunities. Together with our motivated teachers and staff, our collective efforts have produced positive results, sometimes under trying conditions and in difficult scenarios. Nonetheless, we take seriously our charge and try our best to overcome any and all odds.

Obviously, given recently publicized discourse, the education arena has become one of contention and confusion for many. With regard to matters of over-testing, educator evaluation systems, school rankings, and alternative compensation formulas, we are left with more questions than answers.

In an effort to measure the current state of affairs from a school administrator’s perspective, a survey with a variety of questions was sent out to the Delaware Association of School Administrators’ membership. The response rate was strong.

The results were telling. There were positive perceptions of the impact of Professional Learning Communities in our schools and the work on Common Core standards. Unfortunately, the good news ended there.

In the areas of student testing, evaluation systems, school accountability, alternative compensation models, and the overall confidence administrators have in the leadership of Department of Education, the results were, frankly, miserable. In fact, 89 percent or our administrators have little or no confidence in the leadership of the Department of Education.

Our association believes this single statistic speaks volumes. We believe this lack of confidence is due to a failure to engage the education community in a shared decision-making process and the failure of the leadership of the department to implement reform without creating trust. We also believe that, with the right level of engagement, clarity on the topics which matter, and a focus on building trust in our state, Delaware could be a national leader in public education.

Our association, which represents building and district office personnel, knows there are people at the Department of Education doing great work in connection with our schools, and we believe leadership is the most important aspect of sustaining positive change. It’s for these reasons our administrators have lost trust and confidence in the leadership, and we hope for a time when these values are restored.

All told, our mission holds strong: we work for the students, the families, and the communities our schools support; this will stay true no matter what odds we face.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin E. Carson, Ed.D., is executive director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators

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