A new trend in school leadership is emerging. School districts are beginning to hire nontraditional candidates–from leaders at non-profit organizations to top corporate executives to former government officials–to be their new superintendents. States such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania are taking measures to create a process whereby nontraditional candidates may be hired as school administrators.
So what began this interest in choosing those without a background in education administration to be school leaders? Why choose such candidates? It’s because leadership in any field, government, business, or otherwise, can translate into leadership in the academic field. For instance, retired Army Brigadier General Anthony Tata took on the position of superintendent of North Carolina’s Wake County School District in January of 2011, and since he took office, he has been visiting schools, getting to know the teachers and their students, and being proactive. His military training included connecting with the community, and as he does this, he learns how the classes are taught and what the schools in his district need. Thus he figures out how he can better provide for the schools.
However, such a trend may level off or even decrease due to adverse feelings about hiring an administrator without academic credentials. It is difficult for the candidates to establish credibility in their new positions, and they must be able to handle all sides of a debate while coming up with a plausible solution.
While nontraditional administrators are not the entire solution to the problem of trying to better education, they are a source of new ideas and different perspectives.