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The Education Imperative
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Spring 2004
Principals of Leadership
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SCHOOLS IN SUCH COMMUNITIES often face the kinds of challenges that are raised by Stuart Biegel, who teaches in both the law and education schools, when he talks about the legal ramifications of a variety of issues on education.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, for example, student test scores are the measure by which schools, and increasingly principals, are judged. "We can debate the efficacy of that law, but the reality is that it's the law," Biegel says. "And we have to deal with it."

His role, then, is to discuss with PLI students the best practices under the law. He meets with public school principals every week, he says, to stay on top of these best practices, "so there's a lot I can share."

For many of the program's participants, this multidisciplinary approach is a major appeal.

"I was most interested in the courses out of the management school," says David Slagle M.Ed. '03, dean of students at Eagle Rock Junior-Senior High School. Slagle graduated last year from PLI and says that the lessons he learned from Management Professor Samuel Culbert Ph.D. '66 in particular have stayed with him.

"His course wasn't about business, in terms of numbers," Slagle says. "It was about assessing yourself as a person and understanding how you interact in groups and in individual situations. To manage and to lead, you need to have a good grasp of where you are as a person to be able to pull together a faculty of 120 [teachers]" or to serve as a liaison between teachers and parents, as his current job often requires.

Sonia Miller M.Ed. '01 was among the first group of PLI graduates. A classroom teacher for 15 years, she says she enrolled because she wanted a greater level of involvement.

"I became more and more interested in the decision-making end of education," says Miller, now the associate principal of Leuzinger High School in Lawndale. Though the institute's overall mission is to focus primarily on urban schools, its courses have a broad application, Miller says, because they could be applied to "any school."

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