Illinois Loop
Your guide to education in Illinois
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The Illinois Loop website is no longer updated on a a regular basis. However, since many of the links and articles have content and perspectives that are just as valid today, we are keeping this website online for parents, teachers and others researching school issues and solutions.
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Superintendents and Administrators

Is a Superintendent Like a CEO?

    Despite the high salaries paid to superintendents, there are some who actually defend these salaries, claiming that a superintendent's job somehow resembles that of a CEO in private business.

  • "Should a Superintendent Be Paid Like a CEO?" by Dave Ziffer. A classic!! Excerpt:
         "Superintendents do not do anything even remotely akin to the primary function of a CEO. Superintendents do not operate in a competitive environment. They do not establish new markets for anything. They have no competition and so do not have to steal others' market share. They do not have to employ military strategy, or in fact any strategy at all, to win or hold market share. Actually, superintendents' 'markets' are pretty much handed to them on a platter by the state..."

  • For another interesting view on whether superintendents operate in any sense like corporate CEOs, see "What Are Education CEOs Up To?" by Paul T. Hill. Excerpts: "We now know a few things about CEOs. Their job is to make their organizations look good, however troubled and ineffective they might be. ... Education CEOs are no exception. ... They put a bright face on negative circumstances out of fear that creating a crisis may lower public confidence or discourage potential successors. ... But when pressed they tell a different story. ... Superintendents also know that pressing for fundamental changes in public schools might cost them their jobs. ... Doing what is needed would require reallocating money and personnel and looking outside the system for new ideas and people."

Qualifications for Administrators?

    Some common questions:

    • Your local superintendent probably isn't a Ph.D. but may be called "doctor" -- just what is an "Ed.D." anyway?
    • Who is actually running your local schools?
    • Do you have to be really smart to lead a school district?

    For some answers, read these excerpts from Martin Gross' book, A Conspiracy of Ignorance!

Hiring an Administrator

  • We love this ad placed by the school board in Flossmoor, Illinois, back in 2002:

      Suburban Chicago elementary school district seeks Superintendent cut from a different cloth to continue a District commitment to building a traditional, rigorous academic program based on a teacher-centered delivery model.

      The mission of the Flossmoor elementary school district is to challenge every student, without exception, to acquire a core of academic knowledge, master basic skills, and pursue excellence in education. The District's program is grounded in reliable and valid empirical research and the District has declared itself a "fad-free" zone. More information regarding District 161's instructional philosophy may be found at our web site:

      Our district is a diverse community with a history of high academic standards and generous financial support. If you aspire to manage a district where the "bottom line" is what works, not what is trendy, please submit your expression of interest to the Illinois Association of School Boards.

  • Ridgeview Classical, a public charter school in Ft. Collins, Colorado, searched for a new principal in 2008. From an ad they placed, here's an excerpt that makes us wish we could send our kids there:

      Our school principal leads the intellectual and moral development of our 700+ students, oversees curriculum development, and hires and develops our outstanding faculty. The successful candidate will possess, at minimum, a Master's degree in the liberal arts or sciences (not education), embrace the ideals of classical education and character development, and demonstrate mastery in teaching. Certification in K-12 public education is neither required nor preferred. However, demonstrated institutional leadership and management skills, particularly in an educational setting, are imperative. Other desired characteristics include the ability to serve as a spokesperson for educational reform and an understanding of learning disabilities.

Big Wigs

    Who's Who in Education, Crain's Chicago Business: a guide to the honchos at the Chicago CPS, and area universities.

Salaries and Pensions

    So, how much do these kahunas and honchos rake in for their labors?
    Click to go to our page on salaries and pensions to find out!

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