Letters

Letters

More Women, Fewer White Males; Thanks for Kozol; Pro and Con on Thomas Friedman

More Women, Fewer White Males

I usually look forward to reading many of the articles in District Administration. I understand that you did not create the scenario that engendered the cover [a picture of the seven white, male superintendents that comprise the Western States Benchmarking Consortium]. Today, however, I challenge you to look carefully at the cover of your magazine and the authors of the articles.

Many of the administrators in schools today are women, and many of us are working in buildings with less than optimum conditions, with student populations that are, at best, marginal. It is my firm belief that "strong" district leaders can, and do, make a difference. However, looking at the cover of your magazine, and reading the article, leads me to believe that there's a strong perception that the "real" leaders are men.

It's sort of discouraging to realize that while I'm better educated than most administrators, and have more experience, when decisions are to be made, often my knees are not under the table. I hope that the next time you choose a picture for the cover of your magazine, you take into consideration the fact that we (administrators) aren't all men.

Emily Funston

Principal

Fredericktown (Ohio)

Intermediate School

I find many of the articles [in District Administration] are informative and quite useful to those of us in the field of education. I do have to state that this January issue was disappointing, simply for the fact that the front cover tuned me out immediately. "Strength in Numbers" depicted seven people--all males. This seems to say to me, as a reader, that administrators (superintendents) are male and that the strength in the profession comes through this gender. I understand the article was about a consortium of schools that worked together. At the same time, could your journal have not sought out additional examples that included women?

Things are definitely changing in administration, especially in education. I, for one, am certified to be a superintendent and know a number of female colleagues who are serving in superintendent positions and are truly leading school improvement. Strength in administration exists and comes through females as well as males. Your journal needs to be fair in representing more than one gender, particularly when discussing "insight, wisdom, and hard work."

Pam Armstrong-Vogel

Director of Curriculum/Instruction and Special Programs

Woodward-Granger Community School District

Woodward, Iowa

I just received a copy of the January issue. Wow, was I surprised to see that Ron Schachter was unable to find one strong female district leader for his article. Were you?

Peg Kastberg

Community Superintendent

Jefferson County Public Schools

Golden, Colorado

It is an insult to all females in leadership positions that in looking at the whole country only seven men fulfill your criteria.

Jean Atkin Gool

Superintendent

Belvidere (N.J.) School District

Thanks for Kozol

I read with great interest your interview with Jonathan Kozol ("Jonathan Kozol Takes on the World," by Gary Stager, January 2006, p. 60). I believe states and the United States continue to enact public policy that supports segregation. In Michigan, we have over 200 public school academies (charter schools). While statewide their demographics are a broad representation of Michigan's diversity, the individual schools are very homogeneous.

You have hit on the central problem--when people of means have the ability to abandon inferior schools, they continue to provide resources to the better schools thus tipping the revenue balance even further. I very much appreciate Kozol's view that this segregation condemns our urban schools to a spiraling decline. (Less revenue means less students as they escape to other options, which means less revenue.) However, the same phenomenon is occurring in our rural and remote school districts across the country.

Rebecca Rocho

Asst. Superintendent

General Services and Legislation

Calhoun Intermediate School District

Marshall, Michigan

I was pleasantly surprised to find some real gems in my [January] copy of District Administration: your interview with Jonathan Kozol, together with your editorial on the topic of race and class in education [Speaking Out, "The Elephant in the Room", p. 70]. Thank you for bringing Mr. Kozol's enlightened perspective to an audience of educational administrators.

I certainly agree that people in positions of educational leadership need to stand up to the present regime and its transparently artificial concern for educational equality and "standards." When all is said and done, I believe we will find drop-out rates have escalated, particularly in communities where minorities are over-represented, and that there has been a general deterioration in children's ability to evaluate and analyze matters of true importance ... in effect, to "think." Fortunately, I also think the pendulum has reached the end of its arc, and has started to move in a direction favoring the humanity of our students.

I hope it does not take a century to revamp our method of financing public education, as Mr. Kozol suggests.

Charles Chrystal

Director of Special Programs

Royalton-Hartland

Central School District

Middleport, New York

Pro and Con on Thomas Friedman

I would respectfully disagree with [Gary Stager's] analysis [of Thomas Friedman's latest book, The World is Flat, December 2005, p. 77]. I think that his summary is just as hysterical as the writing of Friedman. I found the book to be useful in the context of all of the other "pop" books that I read in trying to get a handle on where this society is headed and preparing for a different future.

While I agree that much of the writing is "over the top" it is just another piece of the puzzle and is reflective of a persistent viewpoint. Books such as The Tipping Point, Freakonomics, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thinking in the Future Tense all bring additional information as we in education try to get a perspective on what is happening. You are correct that these books do not help change the practice in the classroom but they can help to reform the culture, create opportunities to bridge to the future from the past, and stimulate innovation.

I found it fascinating. However, like much of what I read, I read it with a healthy skepticism--much like my high school English teacher taught me.

Thomas R. Dase

Superintendent

Pleasant Valley School District

Camarillo, California

Thanks, Gary. I admire your boldness. I just came back from a writing trip in a nearby state where I found quite a few schools with The World Is Flat study groups underway. It is the fad of the year.

John Norton

Manager/Moderator

Teacher Leaders Network

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


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