Policy & Leadership
Chiefs to Change Launch Challenges Teacher Views on System Leader Roles
- By Dian Schaffhauser
share of teachers who believe that top district and state education
leaders make a difference in the lives of students is tiny — in the
low double digits. Most teachers, according to a new poll, said they
think that that job of a state chief or school system superintendent
"is consumed with politics and mired in bureaucracy, with little
opportunity to make a difference for kids."
those holding these leadership roles have reported that serving as
chief allows them to have a "profound impact" but in
different ways and at a different scale. For example, they set the
vision for the system, engaging with teachers, principals, staff,
parents, students, elected officials and others in the community to
identify shared priorities and establish a plan for success. And they
shape the culture and policies that help educators succeed.
results of the survey came out of a non-scientific January 2020 poll
done by Chiefs
among current and former teachers. The organization, a network of
state and district education leaders, published a new
using the findings to provide guidance to districts and states for
encouraging teachers to consider system leadership roles and create
pathways for helping them get there.
the findings were these:
84 percent of teachers plan to stay in education for the rest of
their careers, just five percent of current teachers said they were
interested in becoming "chiefs";
than half of teachers said they believe a state or district chief
can have a meaningful impact on children's lives; and
just 14 percent of current teachers have been encouraged to become a
superintendent, seven in 10 have been told they ought to pursue
grade-level or departmental leadership and two-thirds (66 percent)
have been pushed to consider earning an administrative credential.
report was published in a multimedia mode, with a podcast and video
interviews with members of Chiefs for Change who are former teachers.
goal was to provide some attention for Chiefs for Change's "Future
Chiefs" program, which is designed for people who are one or two
steps away from becoming a chief. Through a new website, "Teacher
the organization hopes also to reach people early in their careers
who show great potential to become a system leader by providing clear
career pathways and eventually offering placements within districts
and state education departments led by members of the network.
report also offered recommendations for districts and state education
departments that want to help teachers develop into system leaders.
Systems need to:
teachers with the potential to become chiefs to the role and
establish coherent pathways to leadership with associated
with partners to create targeted networking, mentorship and
sponsorship opportunities for teachers of color — and, especially,
women teachers of color — who are interested in education leadership
succession plans to sustain leaders' work over the long term.
need to give educators a fuller picture of the chief role, how chiefs
can make an impact, and the pathways to leadership," said Susana
Cordova, superintendent of Denver
and a member of Chiefs for Change, in a statement. "Virtually
every job I’ve had, I got because somebody tapped me on the
shoulder and encouraged me to go after it. That made a huge
difference for me. It’s important to recognize those with the
potential to serve as leaders and help them to advance."
full report is openly available on
the new website, Teacher to Chief.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.