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Weighty Thoughts: Imagine some of the nation's top school leadership experts huddled around a fireplace, meeting at the same place where the ideas for arms control and National Public Radio were born, agreeing that student achievement must be the No. 1 goal for all principals and superintendents.

Although such a meeting has been delayed, the National Commission for the Advancement of Educational Leadership Preparation will go forward.

The commission was formed last spring by the University Council for Educational Administration and the National Policy Board for Educational Administration, based in Arlington, Va.

The 40-member commission wants to improve university programs that prepare school leaders.

The commission's first meeting was to have been held last week at the Wingspread conference center in Racine, Wis., but was shelved at the last moment because of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

The meeting is now slated for Feb. 7-9.

Michelle D. Young, the new executive director of the UCEA, has high hopes for the February conference. The Columbia, Mo.-based organization represents 62 of the nation's biggest education schools.

The meeting aims to change the way principals and superintendents do their jobs, so that student learning is their focus. A growing number of school leadership groups take this as their goal, and like them, Ms. Young wants to change the way principals and superintendents are prepared.

Because it represents the nation's largest education schools, the organization can bring together education deans and the heads of national school groups in a way that few others can.

"These people have a lot of power, but they never talk to one another," Ms. Young said. "Until they do, the programs we have in education schools are going to stay the same and are probably going to get worse."

Ms. Young takes a dim view of how many states prepare principals, faulting Virginia, for example, for not requiring its school leaders to serve an internship.

To raise standards, the commission will draw up guidelines for education schools and school leadership organizations to follow. The conference's host, the Johnson Foundation, requires that the gatherings result in a concrete product.

The foundation holds conferences intended "to make a difference in our world" at Wingspread, designed in the late 1930s by Frank Lloyd Wright.

—Mark Stricherz [email protected]

Vol. 21, Issue 4, Page 6

Published in Print: September 26, 2001, as Leadership

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