The Educational Superintendent: Between Trust and Regulation An International Perspective


Adam E. Nir (Editor)
The Department of Education, The School of Education, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel

Series: Education in a Competitive and Globalizing World
BISAC: EDU001040
DOI: 10.52305/AVKA6131

Public education is one of the main forces that make a healthy and democratic society. It strives to educate and to provide the younger generation knowledge and skills that allow children to become contributing citizens in their society. Public education is considered highly significant in consolidating the society and establishing its cultural and economic strength. For those reasons, governments choose to invest a significant portion of the state’s national resources in public schooling.

Taking into account the costs and political significance attributed to public education, it is not surprising that governments establish some formal mechanism responsible for the monitoring of schools, intended to ensure that schools operate professionally and in accordance with national goals and policies.

However, when considering voices arguing for schools’ autonomy and, at the same time, policy makers’ inclination to control schools, a dilemma arises: how can control and trust be pursued simultaneously? This dilemma is obviously applicable in all public education systems and it is therefore not surprising that they all have some formal monitoring mechanism with individuals holding positions often termed “superintendent.” Nevertheless, substantial dissimilarities among different educational contexts may be found in role expectations and degrees of regulation superintendents are expected to enforce. The superintendency system may therefore be viewed as a vivid expression of the way trust and control are conceived and translated in different national settings. It reflects a unique and fragile equilibrium between the inclination to enforce national policies on schools as a means for ensuring their implementation and the tendency to enable sufficient degrees of freedom to school level educators.

While research on educational leadership at the school level is abundant, studies on the educational superintendent are relatively sparse. Although some studies have been conducted on the superintendency in recent years, the literature lacks evidence coming from comparative research endeavors testifying to the control and regulation mechanisms exerted in public education systems in light of their different contextual features.

The book’s main goal is to provide an international audience of policymakers, planners, district as well as school-level educators and, obviously, researchers substantial multicultural evidence regarding mechanisms of control and trust characterizing different educational systems, using the superintendent’s role as a lens. Specifically, the book describes how superintendency is exercised in thirteen national public systems with each chapter focusing on a single state providing an “insider’s” perspective of the superintendency system in light of the structural, institutional and cultural features of each society and educational system. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Blending Trust and Control: A Challenge for School Superintendents
(Adam E. Nir, The Department of Education, The School of Education, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel)

Chapter 2: The School District Superintendent in the United States of America
(Lars G. Björk, Theodore J. Kowalski and Tricia Browne-Ferrigno, University of Kentucky, KY, USA and others)

Chapter 3: Mediating Tensions Between State Control, Local Autonomy and Professional Trust: Norwegian School District Leadership in Practice
(Jan Merok Paulsen and Guri Skedsmo, Hedmark University College, and University of Oslo, Norway)

Chapter 4: Pedagogical Supervision and Superintendents in Poland: On the Way to the Quality of Education
(Joanna Madalińska-Michalak, University of Lodz, Poland)

Chapter 5: The Elusive Character of the School Superintendent Role: The Israeli Case
(Ronit Bogler, The Open University of Israel, Israel)

Chapter 6: The New Executives in a Landscape of Change: The Emerging Reality of Plural Controlled Schooling in England
(Philip A. Woods and Amanda Roberts, University of Hertfordshire, UK)

Chapter 7: Danish Superintendents in a Complex World
(Lejf Moos, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Chapter 8: Looking for Superintendents in Australia: The Cases of Victoria and Western Australia
(David Gurr, Simon Clarke, Lawrie Drysdale and Helen Wildy, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Western Australia, Australia)

Chapter 9: Mapping the Terrain of Superintendency in Turkey: Structural, Institutional and Normative Features
(Kadir Beycioglu, Mehmet Sincar, Niyazi Özer, Celal Teyyar Uğurlu and Cevat Yıldırım, Dokuz Eylul University, University of Gaziantep, Inonu University, Cumhuriyet University, and Mardin Artuklu University, Turkey)

Chapter 10: District Education Officers (DEOs) in India: Between Bureaucracy and Democratization
(Rc Saravanabhavan, N. Muthaiah and Sheila Saravanabhavan, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA and others)

Chapter 11: The Finnish Superintendent
(Mika Risku and Pekka Kanervio, University of Jyväskylä, Finland)

Chapter 12: The Role of the Director of Education in Scottish Education
(Christine Forde, University of Glasgow, UK)

Chapter 13: The Swedish Superintendent in the Governing Structure of the School System
(Olof Johansson and Elisabet Nihlfors, University of Umeå, and University of Uppsala, Sweden)

Chapter 14: The Role of the District Director in Education Districts: A South African Perspective
(Earle Chesterton Smith and Johan Beckmann, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

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