School & District Management

Leadership

March 21, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Profile of Superintendents: To hear the media tell it, superintendents hate their jobs, work autocratically, and end up getting canned. But, in a forthcoming paper, Thomas E. Glass found just the opposite.

The picture that emerges from Mr. Glass’ study of the profession is one of relative stability and contentment. Mr. Glass, a former superintendent and now a professor of education leadership at the University of Memphis, polled 2,262 of the nation’s nearly 14,000 district superintendents.

Nearly 57 percent of the superintendents expressed “considerable” fulfillment with the job, and another 37 percent reported “moderate” satisfaction. About 69 percent said they seek citizen participation “all the time” or “frequently.” And 54 percent had served between six and 15 years, while another 17 percent had worked even longer.

At the same time, though, not all media perceptions about superintendents are, well, perceptions. One view shared by the media and many of the nation’s best- regarded superintendents is that the profession is in “crisis.”

Mr. Glass’ basis for that view was a poll of 175 “superintendent leaders,” those judged by their peers as outstanding. He found that 71.5 percent agreed or strongly agreed that a crisis exists. Only 16 percent, by contrast, said there was no crisis.

The main problems with the superintendent’s post, in the eyes of those school leaders, are poor relationships with school boards (64 percent) and long work hours (53 percent).

To remedy the problem, the group of top leaders believes that superintendents should have less paperwork to do. “The problem is insignificant demands placed on their time,” Glass said. “There’s a lot of bureaucratic requirements, so they have to do a ton of paperwork.” More specifically, Glass said, the group believes that school boards need to be reshaped.

The study, which is in draft form but will be published in the next few months by the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, also found that:

•Some 92 percent of the 2,046 superintendents who responded were married.

•Nearly 85 percent are men. Nearly 85 percent are men.

•Only 26 percent said they were hired to be instructional leaders. More than 40 percent were hired for their personal characteristics, and another 26 percent to be “change agents.”

•More than 55 percent described themselves as politically moderate, and 32 percent as conservative.

•Fifty-six percent said they had left their previous job as superintendent to move to a larger district.

•Sixty percent said the stress of the job was “very great” or “considerable.”

—Mark Stricherz

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2001 edition of Education Week

Events

School Climate & Safety K-12 Essentials Forum Strengthen Students’ Connections to School
Join this free event to learn how schools are creating the space for students to form strong bonds with each other and trusted adults.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
Future-Proofing Your School's Tech Ecosystem: Strategies for Asset Tracking, Sustainability, and Budget Optimization
Gain actionable insights into effective asset management, budget optimization, and sustainable IT practices.
Content provided by Follett Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion I Invited My Students to Be the Principal for a Day. Here’s What I Learned
When I felt myself slipping into a springtime slump, this simple activity reminded me of my “why” as an educator.
S. Kambar Khoshaba
4 min read
052024 OPINION Khoshaba PRINCIPAL end the year with positivity
E+/Getty + Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management The Complicated Fight Over Four-Day School Weeks
Missouri lawmakers want to encourage large districts to maintain five-day weeks—even as four-day weeks grow more popular.
7 min read
Calendar 4 day week
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Principal Salaries: The Gap Between Expectation and Reality
Exclusive survey data indicate a gap between the expectations and the realities of principal pay.
4 min read
A Black woman is standing on a ladder and looking into the distance with binoculars, in the background is an ascending arrow.
iStock/Getty
School & District Management From Our Research Center Here's What Superintendents Think They Should Be Paid
A new survey asks school district leaders whether they're paid fairly.
3 min read
Illustration of a ladder on a blue background reaching the shape of a puzzle piece peeled back and revealing a Benjamin Franklin bank note behind it.
iStock/Getty