Paul Bonner is a retired teacher and principal. He consistently posts wise insights about teaching and schools.

We spend a significant amount of time bemoaning the existence of charters, vouchers, and privatization, and deservedly so. However, what we don’t challenge is the the misguided culture that drives much of the leadership within public school bureaucracy. I have read untold articles, attended conferences, and sat through meetings with my superiors where the validity of school boards is questioned. I have watched politically tone deaf school board members, politicians, and citizens question the role of superintendents. I have heard little from elected or appointed leadership that shows real concern for the needs of individual schools. The circular firing squad comes to mind. Superintendents across the country along with School Boards should take some blame for the rise of privatized initiatives. Citizens get frustrated because the district apparatus too often comes off as aloof and disengaged from the issues facing communities. The disjointed efforts of school policy makers has given an opening to corporate interests who see the chance to make a buck through lobbying district leaders and various politicians because, too often, school districts seem incapable of carrying out their mission to serve children. Where are parents to turn? Finland famously turned their schools around by focusing on preparing and providing for teachers. We in the US continue to organize through top down bureaucratic models that contribute to the profound inequality of student opportunity while perpetually searching for the Superintendent who can fix it. The wasted resources spent on the ongoing dance in large city districts with failed superintendents, as evidenced by an average service time of 3.76 years (, will only continue if policy makers focus on “the one best system” over investment in the foundation of teacher driven instruction. Data clearly reveals that superintendents have almost no impact on individual student achievement, whereas teachers given the tools to establish relationships with students and their parents have a life long impact.