SPA 362 – Spring 2019
Leadership Development  Lab II

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Week 10: Leadership in Education

This week we look at three different approaches to leadership in education.

We begin with a Foreign Affairs article, “Generation Stress,” from our own leader in education, President Sylvia Burwell.  A former secretary of health and human services, she also served in Treasury, the White House, and OMB.  She worked with the Gates Foundation, the Wal-Mart Foundation, and others boards.

Burwell has degrees from Harvard and Oxford, but she has not spent her career in education.  But she has spent it analyzing systems, identifying problems, and suggesting and implementing solutions.  Her comparison of the student mental health crisis to Ebola is revealing.

You can find the link to this article here – if you don’t already have a subscription, you can sign up for free for one free article, you can find the article through AU’s online library, or it should appear if you are on a campus computer.

Most people don’t go to college, though, and not everyone who does is equally prepared.  Wendy Kopp‘s experiences as an undergraduate at Princeton motivated her to found Teach for America – the now-famous organization that seeks to bring student leaders at colleges across the country to serve as teachers for two years in at-risk schools.  Some stay as teachers or other roles in education; others go into a variety of careers.  TfA is not without its critics, but in 2017, 10 of Forbes 30 Under 30 were TfA alumni.  She gives this interview 20 years after founding TfA, and before she expands the idea globally to Teach for All.  We can also watch her talk about transformational leadership in education:

Finally, we take a look at one example of leadership in education outside the U.S.  Fred Swaniker started a biotech company, and later founded the African Leadership Academy.  “I realized leadership was the single biggest thing that was holding us back from achieving our potential as a continent,” he explained, so he founded a school for high-school age students to develop into leaders.  Read this CNN article here, and look at the two short videos embedded within the article.

Prompts.  At this point, you probably don’t need prompts.  What makes these leaders particularly interesting? In what ways might they offer important lessons?  In what ways are they similar or different from other leaders we’ve considered?  Is there something different about leadership in education than leadership in diplomacy, peace, business, etc.?  Or offer your own prompt….

You might also be interested in one or more of these topics and resources offered by your classmates

On Wendy Kopp
Wendy Kopp spoke about the importance of cultivated leaders participating in Teach for All. What is the importance of being well educated when it comes to leadership? Do people need a high level of education to understand how to make a difference? Why or why not?

“Effective leadership is essential to success”

This article reinforces what we’ve been learning throughout our time in this program: “effective leadership is essential to success”. We are lucky enough to be a part of a program teaching us important skills, but shouldn’t this start way earlier and for way more students? Would you support state wide initiatives to provide leadership curriculum to students at elementary, middle, and high school levels? Why? Would this push to mold effective leaders at a younger age through the school system have any negative consequences?

What risks is education worth?

In this Tedx Shabana Basij-Rasikh risks her life daily to receive an education. Take the time to reflect on your personal educational experience and how it has shaped both your personal experiences and your experiences as a leader.

School-to-Prison Pipeline

This article dives into policy and cultural issues that have created a systematic issue known as the school-to-prison pipeline. Is the school-to-prison pipeline an issue that needs to be addressed by teachers, parents, or leaders in education policy? Or feel free to discuss something else surrounding the issue.

Outside Perspectives

You don’t necessarily need a background in education to be a leader in education reform. Sometimes an outside perspective from someone who teaches, just not in a classroom, with the means to make a difference can be what sparks change in our education system.
This is an article about Bill Gates’ contributions to education reform and what he plans on doing with monetary contributions.

Teacher Feedback

This is a Ted talk given by Bill Gates where he goes into detail about a specific issue impacting classrooms around the country: teacher feedback. Teacher feedback is important to help teachers learn what they need to improve upon for the unique groups of students that they have each year. The way it is done now in many classrooms is not impactful and ends up harming both teachers and students.

Biases in Education

All people have biases. In education, bias from teachers and classmates can negatively impact a student’s potential and self-worth. Think back to how some of the steps provided at the end of the article could be applied to your past experiences in education.