This week, America’s foremost thought leaders in public education are in Phoenix, celebrating the vast contributions being made in our school districts.
Hundreds of superintendents are attending the National Conference on Education, hosted by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, the premier organization serving thousands of school district leaders nationwide. This annual gathering is routinely regarded as the most comprehensive professional development and networking event for superintendents, cabinet-level officials and other school administrators.
Our conference comes at a unique time. Just before the New Year, Congress passed—and the President signed into law—the Every Student Succeeds Act. The legislation takes the pendulum of federal overreach and control and returns it back to state and local education agencies. The law preserves important federal policy cornerstones such as equity, accountability, standards and assessments, but does so in a way that empowers state and local education leaders to more effectively operate the systems for which they are responsible.
ESSA is certain to be a prime topic of conversation at our meeting. Other critical issues that are sure to be covered include Common Core, superintendent/board relationships, personalizing learning, instructional leadership, innovative technology, healthy school environments, and poverty and equity.
In addition, one superstar superintendent will be named AASA’s 2016 National Superintendent of the Year. This award points to the outstanding contributions and leadership provided by superintendents, who, arguably, have the toughest job in America.
Running a school district is hard work. I was a superintendent for nearly 30 years on Long Island and Northern Virginia, and as I travel across the country, I see firsthand that the roles, responsibilities and political pressures placed on today’s superintendents are greater than they’ve ever been.
That’s why our conference is so important—not only for the superintendency, but also the 50 million students who are depending on us, as educators, to effectively prepare them for college and careers beyond high school. Greater Phoenix will be the place where the CEOs of our school districts will be sharing best practices and ideas about improving student outcomes and district management.
We are here to applaud school district leaders, the true champions for children. Their contributions to public education are immeasurable. Their efforts are setting a positive educational framework for generations to come.
Daniel A. Domenech is the executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.