Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Thomas L. Alsbury
The local school district superintendent is generally known as the chief executive officer of a multischool district. Although the position may seem clearly defined, nothing could be further from the truth. Demographic and social shifts over time have changed public schools in the United States, as well as the superintendent's role. Historically, the superintendent began as an unpaid school inspector who assisted overburdened, local school boards in managing the business affairs of an ever-growing number of schools in larger urban areas. The superintendent's role has evolved in influence and complexity. Consequently, we will describe the current context of the superintendent in a changing society and characterize his or her shifting role(s). Public schools have experienced a significant change in social context and demographics over time, and superintendents have found their greatest success when functioning as political strategists and social scientists. School district composition, superintendent selection, and their relationship to the ...