Hess has some salient points here, but I fear he is placing too much blame on the administrators in trying to reform schools. This is EVERYONE's responsibility, and nothing will ever get truly accomplished if we simply continue to play the blame game. Read on....
Educational Leadership for a New Era
• Fresh opportunity to build an innovative program. Unlike most ed school-business school partnerships, which inevitably draw upon the faculty and programs already in place, Rice was able to build a unique education leadership training program from scratch. This opportunity to start fresh meant that REEP could use the expertise of the Jones School without worrying about stepping on the toes of an ed school or having to use education faculty.
• A chance to cultivate the local talent pool. Unlike education leadership programs with a more national focus, REEP was designed to cultivate the talent pool in one community. REEP's design is intended to offer an alluring new path to potential leaders, to keep those talented leaders in the local ecosystem, to forge new ties across districts and across the district and charter sectors, and to infuse local leadership with thinking and networks that stretch beyond the narrow world of K-12.
• Squeezing a different approach into a self-assured field. A key tension for programs like REEP is the attempt to pioneer a new direction in leadership training while having to comply with state-level guidelines that presuppose a particular approach to training school leaders. These "correct" approaches to K-12 leadership imply certainty on questions that most non-K-12 authorities in management and leadership regard as uncertain.
• Can leaders use what they're learning? Business schools often operate under the assumption that leaders have a substantial ability to reallocate time, staff, and dollars and to remake routines. However, in K-12, leaders often operate in highly constrained environments.
• Influentials committed to the effort. Inside and outside of Rice, REEP enjoyed advocates who helped it clear logistical hurdles, secure funds, develop local relationships, and recruit students and a national faculty. Equally critical was support from the Jones School. On the outside, REEP's advisory board included key contacts in leadership roles in local school districts, in high-profile charter management organizations, and at Teach For America. This helped with visibility, coordination, and recruitment.
• Doubts about whether REEP could be launched at an institution with an education school. Those involved in launching REEP repeatedly expressed skepticism that they could have built it at Rice if an education school had been in place. Those who had dealt with other local schools of education spoke of the frustrations of having to negotiate ways to ensure that new programs didn't step on the toes of established programs or faculty members. Rethinking the assumptions of how to train school leaders was thought to be possible only when working on a fresh slate.