Education Letter to the Editor

Assistant Superintendents: No Need for Own Group

October 05, 2009 1 min read

To the Editor:

As assistant superintendents, we were surprised to read in David Leach’s online Commentary “The Assistant Superintendent’s Dilemma” (Sept. 23, 2009) his suggestion that an association devoted solely to assistant superintendents be created.

The American Association of School Administrators is actively engaged in meeting the needs of assistant superintendents nationwide. While in the past the AASA was known as an organization strictly for superintendents, today it provides programs and services for senior-level school administrators, cabinet members, and aspiring school system leaders.

Since joining the AASA, we have been involved in webinars, think-tank networks linking superintendents and assistant superintendents across our region, conferences, and various other professional-development opportunities. The organization’s news and business briefs provide timely information and perspectives that expand our thinking. The AASA also offers information on career opportunities and access to executive consultants for training and professional-development purposes.

Mr. Leach is correct, however, when he says that the pipeline to the superintendency is shrinking. The AASA’s “2007 State of the Superintendency Survey: Aspiring to the Superintendency” study found that there are not enough candidates to fill a looming surfeit of job openings. It also showed that the biggest disincentives for those considering the superintendency as a career are a lack of funding for the school system, personal family sacrifices, and school board relations. Witnessing these challenges up close, and watching the rapid turnover of superintendents nationwide, may have more to do with their joining or not joining the superintendent pool than any lack of professional development.

The AASA has been responsive to our needs, and is working to expand the superintendent pipeline, from creating programs and networks for mentoring and coaching, to identifying and encouraging all candidates—including assistant superintendents—so that the country maintains a high-quality pool of school leaders.

Betsy Fenske

Assistant Superintendent Cluster V

Fairfax County Public Schools

Kim Dockery

Assistant Superintendent

Department of Special Services

Fairfax County Public Schools

Falls Church, Va.

A version of this article appeared in the October 07, 2009 edition of Education Week as Assistant Superintendents: No Need for Own Group