ED65609 Administration of Local School Systems

Fall 2002

Professor Irwin Blumer, Ed.D.

205A Campion Hall, Boston College

phone: (617) 552-1956, e-mail: blumer@bc.edu

Goals of the course
Course outline
Course grading


Goals of the course:

This course will concentrate on the administration of local school systems. The focus will be on defining effective leadership of a school superintendent, by examining how one brings leadership and change to a school system, as opposed to an individual school. The course will also provide insight into effective leadership for all central office staff. By the end of the course, students will gain a more comprehensive understanding of:

  • the roles and responsibilities of an effective superintendent
  • the roles and responsibilities of a responsible school committee
  • the role of leadership in making a school system a system
  • the ways MERA has redefined the relationship between superintendent and school committee
  • the importance of focusing a school system on issues of teaching and learning
  • the strategies for conducting collective bargaining, working with unions and dealing with staff incompetency and dismissal
  • the importance of school systems becoming actively anti-racist


Texts for this course include:

Tatum, Beverly, Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Basic Books - Required

Sharp, W., Walter, J., The School Superintendent: The Profession and the Person, Technomic Publishing Company - Required

Wallace, Richard, From Vision to Practice, The Art of Educational Leadership, Corwin Press- Required

King, Mathew , Editor, Partners in Progress, Strengthening the Superintendent-Board Relationship, Jossey-Bass, 1999. - Required

A course pack of readings. In addition, students will receive readings which will be provided by the instructor and will be expected to access reserved readings at O'Neill Library online..



Course outline

September 20, 2002

Introduction and overview of course requirements.Students will work in groups to identify the roles and responsibilities of a superintendent of schools and the traits of an effective superintendent. Students will draft questions for guest superintendents.

Class Readings

S & W, Chapter 1

King, Chapter 1, 8


• September 21, 2002 : Presentation by a guest superintendent.

Leadership through core values -- What makes a school system a system? Students will explore the importance of culture and values as the connecting points between system and schools. Students will define their own core values and write a mission statement based on those values.

Class Readings

Wallace Chapters 1 & 2
S & W, Chapters 3 & 4
and the following readings:
Cuban, Larry, "Conflict in Leadership in the Superintendency," Phi Delta Kaplan, September, 1985

McCarty, D., "Marchiavelli's Political Realism: It's Implications for Today's Superintendent/School Board Interactions," paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of School Administrators, February 22, 1992, San Diego, Calif.

*Sashkin, M., "Visionary Leadership," an extensive revision of a presentation delivered before the McGill International Symposium on charismatic leadership


• October 5: Presentation by guest superintendent.

Leadership through core values - continued

The MERA-- implications for Massachusetts school systems. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the changing role of the superintendent as a result of MERA

No Child Left Behind - implications for the superintendent

Class Readings

King, Chapter 6, 8

and the following reading:

*McAdams, R., "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Superintendency, but Were Afraid to Ask", NSASP Bulletin, April, 1995, pp.86-90(online reserve O'Neill)

Assignment #1 Due October 5

• October 25: Presentation by guest superintendent.

School committee/superintendent relationships -- What are the roles and responsibilities of each? Students will demonstrate their understanding of the roles of superintendents and school committees through discussions which demonstrate knowledge of readings and guest presentations.

Class Readings

Wallace, Chapter 3

S & W, Chapter 5

and the following readings:

Houston, P. & Shannon, T., "Roles and Relationships: School Boards and Superintendents"

*Kirst, M., "A Changing Context Means School Board Reform," Phi Delta Kaplan, January, 1994


Price, W., "Policy Governance Revisited",The School Administrator, February, 2001, pp. 46-50.(online reserve)

Rallis, S. & Criscoe, J., "School Boards and School Restructuring: A Contradiction in Terms?," an NOEL symposium at the AURA annual meeting, 1993

*Greene, K., "Models of School Board Policy Making," Educational Administration Quarterly, Volume 28, #2 (May, 1992), 220-236
*Shoemaker, M. and Marzano, R. Realizing the Promise of Standards Based Education, http://wow.ascd.or/pubs/en/mar99/extschmoker.html
*Mahoney, J. "The Inviting Superintendent", Journal of Invitational Theory and Practice, 1998, Vol.5, No. 2. pp. 97-105(online reserve O'Neill)

*Maduakolam,I. and Bailey, J., "A Study of Superintendents" Change Leadership Styles Using the Situational Leadership Model", American Secondary Education, Summer 1999, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 22- 32(online reserve O'Neill)


• October 26: Presentation by guest superintendent.

The role of schools -- teaching and learning. Through case study, video, readings and an intensive study of District 2 in New York City, students will demonstrate their understanding of how a superintendent can focus the school system on improving teaching and learning.

Class Readings

Wallace, Chapters 8, 9, & 10

and the following readings:

*Mitchell, D. & Beech, S., "School Restructuring: The Superintendent's View," Educational Administration Quarterly, Volume 29, #2 (May, 1993), 249-274

Bredson, P., "Superintendents' Roles in Curriculum Development and Instructional Leadership: Instructional Visionaries, Collaborators, Supporters, and Delegators," Journal of School Leadership, Volume 6, May, 1996

*Murphy, J., "The Changing Role of the Superintendency in Restructuring Districts in Kentucky," a paper presented at AURA, April, 1994

Sparks, Dennis., "Focusing Staff Development on the Learning of All Students," in Handbook of Research On Improving Student Achievement, Colette,G., Editor


November 2: Collective bargaining, unions and staff evaluation - Through readings, interviews with a superintendent and class discussion, students will demonstrate an understanding of different approaches to collective bargaining, the role of unions in affecting change and basic tenets of evaluation.

Class Readings

S & W, Chapter 6

and the following readings:

Fuhr, B., "Managing Mediocrity in the Classroom," The School Administrator, April, 1993

*DeMitchell, T., "Competence, Documentation and Dismissal:A Legal Template," the Legal Department

Youngblood, S., "Supervising the Probationary Teacher: Growth and Improvement," NASSP Bulletin, October, 1994

*Pratt, F., "The Ethical Principal and Teacher Non- Retention," The Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education,10:29-36, 1996

Waintroob, A., "Remediating and Dismissing the Incompetent Teacher," The School Administrator, May, 1995

Urban, W., "Is There a New Teacher Unionism?,"

Educational Theory, summer, 1991, volume 41, #3

*Koppich, J., "The Changing Role of Teacher Union Leaders, paper presented at the AURA, Chicago, 1991

DeMitchell, T. & Streshly, W., "Must Collective Bargaining be Reformed in an Era of Reform?," The International Journal of Educational Reform, volume 5, #1, January, 1996

Assignment #2 Due November 2

• November 15 Case study approach to issues discussed in class.

Class Readings

Students will be given cases to read in preparation for this class.


November 16:The effect of racism on schools -- What do we do about it?

Through a written paper on Tatum's book and class discussions, students will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of establishing an active anti racist school system and the leadership skills needed to bring it about.

Class Readings

Tatum, B., Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, Basic Books, 1997

Blumer, I. and Tatum, B., 'Creating a community of allies: how one school system attempted to create an anti-racist enviornment" International Journal of Leadership in Education, vol.2, no.3, 256-67

Lawrence, S. and Tatum, B. "Teachers in Transition: The Impact of Antiracist Professional Development on Classroom Practice", Teachers College Record, Vol. 99, Number 1, Fall 1997, pp. 162-178 (online reserve)

*Hilliard, A., "Excellence in Education Versus High Stakes Testing", Journal of Teacher Education, Vol.51, No. 4 Sept/Oct 2000, pp. 162-168

King, Chapter 7

Assignment #3 Due November 16

December 7: Group work for final paper

• December 14 Brief presentation of papers. What are the traits of an effective superintendent. How have your thoughts changed?

Final paper Due December 14

* Readings are recommended



Students are responsible for attending all classes, for all required readings, and for being prepared to fully engage in all class discussions.

Assignment #1 Due October 5

Interview a superintendent and a chair of a school committee. Ask each how they would define the roles and responsibilities of a superintendent and a school committee. Ask each to define the difference between policy and administration. Listen carefully to what each says. What are the areas of agreement? Disagreements? Think about how these interviews inform your own definition of each term. Using the information you have gained from the interview and your readings, do the following: Pretend you are a superintendent. Write a position paper to the school committee which clearly defines policy and administration and the differences between the two concepts. In the paper, indicate how you expect to use these definitions when working with the committee. What will you do and what will you expect the committee to do? 3-4 pages


Assignment #2 Due November 2

You will need to attend 3-4 school committee meetings and talk with a superintendent before writing this paper and take notes on what you hear and observe. Concentrate on the interaction between the school committee and the superintendent. What do you observe in terms of effective leadership? What role does the superintendent play during the meetings? What role do central staff, principals, parents, community members play in the meeting?

Using what you learn from attending these meetings, the course readings and class discussions, write a 3-4 page paper that defines and describes effective leadership by a superintendent.



Assignment #3 Due November 16

Write a 3-4 page reflective analysis of Beverly Daniel-Tatum's book. What are the implications for school leadership?

Students who write a clear, grammatically correct paper, which analyzes this book, will receive a grade no greater than B. Students who analyze the book and then synthesize it in a way that brings meaning to the application of the concept to schools will receive a B+. Students who analyze and synthesize the book and then demonstrate personal judgment about the thinking, as it applies to schools, will receive a grade of A- or A.

Remember the definition of terms. Analysis refers to the ability to break down materials into its component parts, so that its organizational structure may be understood. This may include the identification of the parts, analysis of the relationships between parts and recognition of the organizational principles involved.

Synthesis refers to the ability to put parts together to form a new whole. Learning outcomes in this area stress creative behaviors, with major emphasis on the formulation of new patterns or structures. Evaluation is concerned with the ability to judge the value of material for a given purpose. Judgments are to be based on definite criteria (these definitions come from the cognitive domain of the text, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Bloom, 1956.

Final paper Due December 14

This will be a 8-10 page paper written as a group. The paper will assume that you are a superintendent of schools and you want to create a system wide culture which reflects the belief that all children can learn at a rigorous level of achievement. Apply what you have learned from the course in general and from reading the articles listed below to describe the instructional leadership you would provide to create that culture. How would you organize the system to make certain that effective teaching and learning was a major priority in al of your schools?

What would the school culture look like?

What would you as superintendent expect principals, teachers and other staff to be doing?

What would you as superintendent do to create the culture?

If the paper is well written and demonstrates your ability to synthesize what you have read and learned from the course and to apply that to instructional leadership at the system level, you will receive a grade of A- to A.

If the paper is well written and demonstrates some level of understanding of instructional leadership and some ability to apply that to a school system you will receive a grade of B- to B+.

If the paper does neither of the above you will receive a grade of less than B-.


Elmore, R., "Why Restructuring the Law Won't Improve Teaching," Educational Leadership, April, 1992

Elmoer, R., "Getting to Scale With Good Educational Practice," Harvard Education Review, 66:1, pg.. 1-26

Elmore, R. & Burney, D., "Staff Development and Instructional Improvement," Community District 2, New York City, March, 1996

Elmore, R. "Accountability in Local School Districts: Learning to Do the Right Thing, paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Chanpaign, 1996

Elmore, R. "Teaching, Learning and School Organization: Principals of Practice and the Regularities of Schooling", Educational Administration Quarterly, Vol.31, No. 9, August, 1995

Elmore, R., "Structural Reform and Educational Practice", Educational Researcher, Vol.24, No. 9, December 1995

Elmore, R. "Building a New Structure of School Leadership", Albert Shanker Institute, 2000

Elmore, R. "Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Achievement", Albert Shanker Institute, 2002, (online Shanker Institute)

Elmore, R. "Leadership of Large-Scale Improvement in American Education," September 1999

Elmore, R. "The Puzzle of Accountability," School Committees' Leadership in School Reform, 1993-4 Colloquium Series, pp. 26-32

Elmore, R. and Fuhrman, S., "Holding Schools Accountable: Is It Working?" Phi Delta Kappan, September 2001

Elmore, R. and Burney, A., " School Variation and Systemic

Instructional Improvement in Community School District #2, New York City," October 1997

AASA Strategies for School System Leaders on District Level Change, "District 2, NYC: Teacher Learning Comes First"(online reserve O'Neill)

AASA Strategies For School Change, "The School Leadership Challenge", Vol. 8, No.1, February, 2001(online reserve O'Neill)

Mass. Insight, "School Accountability: A Discussion withDr. Richard Elmore," May, 1997


Course grading

Your grade will be arrived at in the following manner:

Class participation--10%

Four short papers--60%

Final paper--30%