Home Home Home About Us Home About Us About Us About Us /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html About Us About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html /links/index.html
Home About Us About Us /links/index.html /advertising/index.html /advertising/index.html
About Us /archives/index.html /archives/index.html /subscribe/index.html /subscribe/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /survey/index.html /links/index.html










Camps & Sports


Children’s Corner

Collected Features


Cover Stories

Distance Learning


Famous Interviews


Medical Update

Metro Beat

Movies & Theater


Music, Art & Dance

Special Education

Spotlight On Schools

Teachers of the Month


















New York City
December 2002

Reflections on Leadership: 2002
By Jill Levy

No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.
—Helen Keller

I’m not particularly nostalgic. I don’t pine for the good old days because I am not certain that the “good old days” were all that good. But I must admit that I do look back often to evaluate where I am in relation to the course I have set for the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) and myself. Those of us in education leadership positions know that constant evaluation serves to help us either stay or modify the course. We need to know our history so than we can move forward.

Last year at this time, we were still reeling from the events of 9/11. Our spirit was dampened. Our sense of safety was shaken. We clung to each other for solace and support. We shelved our personal fears so that we could sustain the equilibrium in our school communities and give strength to students, parents and faculty. We didn’t have time to equivocate or evaluate. Clinging to our respective visions, we used every skill we possessed to meet the challenges of the moment and those yet to come. We did what we do best; we led.

In spite of the shifting sands of politics, policy and power surrounding education, we forged ahead. The shadow of the previous mayoral administration gave way to the unknown in the form of a newly elected mayor and political unknown, Mike Bloomberg. Calling for control of the Board of Education, he talked and he testified. We talked and we testified. Everyone who cared, talked and testified. Ultimately, control over education was transferred to the new mayor with one caveat–if this new governance structure fails to meet expectations, it will “sunset.” (CSA advocated for this provision in the governance law.)

Harold Levy continued on as Chancellor. And the few years of educational “plenty” came to an abrupt end when the city and state surpluses suddenly disappeared. There was the promise of a court ruling in favor of equity funding for NYC students and suddenly it was whisked away into the abyss of judicial appeals. Then just as suddenly, Joel Klein of Microsoft prosecutorial fame was named Chancellor. No matter the speculation, the whispers, the arched eyebrows and the voices of the cynics, we concentrated on teaching, learning and leading the way. We challenged the cynics and welcomed the opportunity for renewed focus on school leadership.

The Board of Education became the Department of Education. No matter, we forged ahead in our schools and in our respective offices. Looking at data, evaluating the quality of instruction, staffing our schools, working with parents, we only hoped that the promise of more flexibility would come to pass. Some did, but it hardly matched the promise that was extended to us. Chancellor Klein introduced his new team.

We wonder about the rhetoric. We wonder about the commitment to public schools. While the teachers settled their contract along the pattern we set in our last contract, CSA members are still without a contract and our Day Care/Early Childhood members have been told that there is no mon ey for their contract even though they hold the future of our public schools in their hands. They provide the early education so vital for success in school. Yet, because we so fervently believe in public education, we dare not give up hope.

Times of plenty have become times of fiscal poverty. The phrase, “Do more with less!” is an echo of the past and one that has been disastrous for our schools. Our state educational standards are among the highest in the country and our NYC funding is the lowest in our state. Still, we are moving forward into uncharted waters. The promise of a dramatically different organizational structure and a renewed focus on school leadership offers exciting possibilities.

Leadership is not static. It demands continuous learning, redefining and honing our craft. Constant evaluation and modification provide the ability to persevere in pursuit of a vision. According to Chris Agyris, when leaders are subjected to an organizational culture that makes them “dependent, subordinate and submissive,” frustration and conflict will lead to diminished results. The culture of our organization(s) must change, if we are to move forward effectively. Change is both exciting and unsettling. Yet, I believe we are ready to view constructive change in a new light and wrestle with the challenges that will most assuredly be presented to us.#

City: State:

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001.
Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919.Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2002.