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Photo Finish?

And you thought the Sports Illustrated curse was bad. The magazine is famous for featuring a top-ranked team on its cover at the beginning of a sports season—an honor many fans consider a bad omen that all but guarantees the team will stumble on its way to a championship.

Apparently, a version of the curse has spread to school magazines, too. Ask Jay Goldman, the editor of The School Administrator.

In August 1996, the magazine featured on its cover five Washington, D.C.-area school superintendents. (The School Administrator, August 1996.)

Today, less than four years later, all are gone from their jobs, except Alexandria, Va., Superintendent Herbert Berg.

"He still jokes about his lonely status," Mr. Goldman said last week.

Apparently, the curse lives on in this month's issue. Inside, the current superintendent in the District of Columbia schools, Arlene Ackerman, is pictured alongside a story about women as school leaders. ("Where Are All the Women Superintendents?,"The School Administrator, June 2000.)

No sooner had the issue hit subscribers' mailboxes than Ms. Ackerman announced she was leaving for the top job in San Francisco. Rather than deny the existence of the curse, Mr. Goldman admits it's true, it's all true. "We joke about it on the magazine staff," he said.

He noted that in some cases the departures of administrators such as Ms. Ackerman were not necessarily bad, since they moved on to new and perhaps better jobs.

The magazine, published by the Arlington, Va.-based American Association of School Administrators, is mailed to superintendents across the country, and has a circulation of about 25,000.

—Alan Richard

Vol. 19, Issue 38, Page 3

Published in Print: May 31, 2000, as Take Note
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