To the Editor:
The report by President Arthur E. Levine of Teachers College, Columbia University (“Study Blasts Leadership Preparation,” March 16, 2005) attacked doctoral-level educational administration programs for their allegedly inadequate professoriate, funding, and rigor. While we applaud the study’s intention to promote and ensure the preparation of highly qualified school leaders, we do not think the abandonment of the doctorate in educational administration furthers that cause.
The Ed.D. degree, as opposed to the Ph.D., is a professional degree. It is imperative that the Ed.D. program foster explicit and continual links between theory, research, and practice. The on-the-job training programs for education administrators recommended in the Levine report typically ignore the theoretical and empirical literature in the field and simply train workers to manage schools. The exemplary model for preparation joins faculty members with recent practice and researchers in the field of policy and leadership. By teaming scholars with practitioners, the faculty configuration reinforces and supports the commitment to integrating theory, research, and practice throughout all facets of a program.
In addition to this, some colleges of education, such as ours, are renewing their programs by raising entrance requirements, ensuring that every dissertation committee has a research professor on it, requiring students to enroll in dissertation-production courses, and limiting the ratio of doctoral students to faculty members.
School administrators find themselves engaged in a multitude of activities unassociated with traditional administrative responsibilities. Principals are expected to be agents of change, instructional leaders, disciplinarians for potentially dangerous students, standard-bearers for excellence, solution-makers for intractable social issues, and always-correct respondents to legal challenges.
All of these roles are to be completed in a typical 12-hour day. Broad-stroke studies such as Arthur Levine’s do little to assist with these challenges. In fact, such total condemnation simply creates more stumbling blocks by asserting that quick-fix, short-term training programs are adequate preparation for today’s educational leaders.
Everett B. Howerton
Professor and Director
Education Administration Program
Graduate School of Education and Human Development
George Washington University