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Crowded Campaign: For the first time in anybody's memory, four candidates are vying for the top elected job at the American Association of School Administrators.

Usually, there's been a stately march toward the presidency of the Arlington, Va.-based organization, which represents district superintendents and other high-level administrators. Two members of the elected board who are finishing their three-year terms typically run against each other for president-elect. One wins and serves a year as president-elect and a year as president; the other bows out.

But that's not the pattern this year. Neither departing board member is running, in part because new rules require the group's president to be a full-time administrator. Instead, one current board member and three former board members who were defeated in their first bids for president-elect have stepped forward.

All the candidates contend that this is a critical time for the superintendency. But they offer slightly different versions of what's most important for the 15,000-member organization they hope to lead.

Candidates Ben Canada and Don Hooper point first to the movement for high academic standards and increased accountability, which they say superintendents should be embracing.

Mr. Hooper, who heads the 51,000-student Fort Bend, Texas, school district near Houston, wants to see the AASA use its resources "to give superintendents a sense of comfort and hope and a belief system that we can [meet standards], and that we'll be respected for doing that."

Mr. Canada, the superintendent of the 58,000-student Portland, Ore., schools, envisions the group pushing for many more teachers to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and helping to lengthen the tenure of superintendents. If elected, he would be the AASA's first African-American president.

Candidates Joan P. Kowal and Robert A. Winter emphasize the role of the AASA in preparing superintendents.

"I think the biggest task is ... to do a lot more in professional development because the pace of change is so extraordinary," said Mr. Winter, the superintendent of the 10,500-student Tuscaloosa, Ala., schools.

Ms. Kowal said the group should continue to "prepare the new breed of superintendent. ... We're an organization and a pipeline for attracting quality leadership" at a time when too few talented people seek the job.

Elections ballots were mailed last week and must be received in the AASA's offices by March 3.

--Bess Keller [email protected]

Vol. 18, Issue 24, Page 5

Published in Print: February 24, 1999, as Administrators
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