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."