Coming soon: A national superintendent certification program

Managing the enterprise can be a challenge to a superintendent who has no business experience.

Learning Leadership column, Feb. 2013 edition of eSchool News—The American Association of School Administrators is about to reinvent itself.

Founded in 1865, the year when the Civil War came to an end and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, it is one of the oldest education associations in our nation. In 2015, we will be celebrating our 15oth anniversary.

AASA enjoys a proud heritage, but recent surveys of our members indicate that the association has to refocus in order to better serve our 21st-century system leaders. To begin with, the association’s name does not clearly define whom it is intended to serve.

In truth, AASA has always been a school superintendents’ association, but you can’t tell that by the name. When I introduce myself as the executive director, people not familiar with the organization will always ask me, “And whom, exactly, do you represent?”

We represent our school system leaders, the school superintendents, and we are pleased to include in our membership those who aspire to the superintendency—as well as those in higher education who train and prepare them. At our National Conference on Education, to be held this month in Los Angeles, we will be unveiling a new logo with a new tagline: AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

This is not just a facelift. Over the past few years, AASA has undergone a transformation. We moved our headquarters from Arlington to Alexandria, Va., to share a building with the National Association of Elementary School Principals. The move served two purposes: It provided significant relief to our facilities budget, and it forged an alliance with NAESP in our advocacy efforts and other issues of mutual concern. We referred to the move as a “functional consolidation,” wherein the two associations maintain total independence but benefit from shared facilities and staff, when appropriate.

For more columns from Dan Domenech on school district leadership, see:

What U.S. schools can learn from Russia

Why are women so underrepresented in educational leadership?

How to achieve true educational transformation

AASA’s advocacy efforts have expanded, and we are a presence in the halls of Congress. This past year, we have assumed a leadership role in influencing proposed legislation that would affect restraint and seclusion practices in our schools, a topic that other organizations have not been willing to tackle. We have worked with both the House and the Senate to shape the language in bills that would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. We urged Education Secretary Arne Duncan to provide regulatory relief from the requirements of No Child Left Behind and expressed our disappointment when the waiver process was introduced as yet another competitive grant—leaving thousands of school districts to continue to suffer under NCLB. We look forward to the current legislative session and hope that ESEA reauthorization will bubble up in a Congress consumed with fiscal and partisan issues.

AASA also has improved communications with its membership. Our website ( is replete with resources in all areas affecting school system leaders.

For instance, our “AASA Connect” is full of success stories and provides an opportunity for superintendents around the country to post their blogs or share successes with their colleagues. The “Ethical Educator” is a regular feature where a panel of experts provides sage advice on some of the thorny ethical issues that school administrators confront. “AASA Radio” broadcasts interviews with our most prominent thought leaders, and our videos bring you the thinking of our superintendents in the news.

Our award-winning magazine, The School Administrator, with a circulation of 27,000, now also is delivered to the central office administrators of our superintendent members. All the articles in The School Administrator can be accessed online as well, making it one of the most frequented pages on our website.

There are two exciting initiatives that we can look forward to this year: the unveiling of a national vision statement from our superintendents and the launching of a National Superintendent Certification Program.

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