Education

Educational leaders must strive to increase the resources available for their schools

Modern educational leaders must adapt to complex local environments. They have to deal with not only the daily challenges in schools, but also problems that arise beyond school walls, such as budgetary constraints, staffing shortages, or problematic school boards. These complex contexts have some patterns and features that educational leaders need to recognize. Educational leaders are confronted with a political landscape marked by battles at all levels over public education’s direction and resources.

The national economy’s vitality has been tied to its educational system. This shifts the political focus from equity issues to student achievement issues, and allows for a more equitable public education system. In order to increase governmental control over curriculum, instruction and assessment, states have been increasingly centralizing educational policymaking. Most states have placed greater emphasis on standards, accountability, and improving standardized assessments, in response to the increasing importance of educational and global comparisons. Some educational reforms, paradoxically, have increased site-based fiscal management and decentralized public education.

In this new environment, school leaders must respond to the state’s demands while also assuming more budget-management power within their schools. Other decentralizing measures, like charter schools or vouchers, have also given parents more control over education. These political pressures have had a significant impact on the day-to-day activities of local educational leaders, especially by including them in the implementation of standards and assessments. All levels of leaders must keep up with current trends in state and national educational policy. They must also decide how and when they should respond.

Educational leaders face new challenges due to the many links between education and economy. Education is both an economic provider and a user. It also provides human resources through the preparation of students for productive careers. The quality of public schools is as important as its wealth. Individual earnings and educational investment have a direct correlation. In terms of the ratio between individual earnings and education costs, the highest rate of return on education is at the elementary level. This finding supports a greater investment in early education. These connections require educational leaders to determine which educational services will provide a positive return for taxpayers and graduates. Educational investment can have a negative impact on local economies that do not support knowledge-based jobs. Leaders should encourage the development of knowledge-based industries and support education. Education leaders need to be aware of the local economy and changes in global, local and national markets. Leaders should build strong relationships with local resource providers, form partnerships with businesses, universities, and participate actively in education policymaking, keeping in mind the complex interdependence of education and public wealth.