What Else You Can Do
You don't have to be a politician or member of Congress to help improve educational leadership and educational leadership preparation. This page outlines a few steps that every individual can take to help to the preparation and practice of school and district leaders.
Join the UCEA mailing list: Sign up for UCEA online news blast at www.ucea.org and for UCEA’s newsletter, the UCEA Review. In about the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee, you will read important news and learn of key events in policy and practice concerning the development and practice of educational leaders. The newsletter focuses on happenings in UCEA Institutions and key issues impacting leadership preparation, in the US and around the world, and is presented in an accessible format for everyone from elected officials and policymakers to parents and community leaders.
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Notify the news media: Send an op-ed, letter to the editor, or feature article to a newspaper. Publication in a newspaper provides instant visibility for your ideas among educators and policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public. But the competition for space and editorial requirements demand that pieces are well targeted to the requirements of each publication, meet a high threshold of news value, speak directly to the audience, and present provocative new ideas in compelling ways.
- "Op-eds" are point-of-view articles submitted to daily and weekly newspapers and regional magazines that express the author's position on a particular topic. These short and insightful essays, usually running from 700 to 900 words and focused on timely issues, or linked to issues that have been in the news locally or nationally, are always in demand.
- "Letters to the editor" reflect your views in a shorter format, and are usually tied to an article or editorial that has been recently printed in the newspaper. These communications are generally from 100 - 250 words long, and should add value to the originally printed article or opinion. It is not generally enough to write to agree or disagree; editors are looking for additional information that supports your opinion about why the article was good or bad, or that otherwise contributes to a reader's understanding of the issue.
- "Feature articles" are generally solicited by the newspaper, and combine facts about an issue with human interest. You can call a paper and "pitch" the idea for this kind of article to a member of the editorial staff, but remember that your chances of having them ask you to write the article will depend on the timeliness of the issue and its relevance to the paper's readers. A local component - linking a larger issue about secondary school reform to the "story" of a teacher or student - will increase the chances that the editor will be interested in printing something that your write.
Publication in a newspaper provides instant visibility for your ideas among educators and policymakers, opinion leaders, and the public. But the competition for space and editorial requirements demand that pieces are well targeted to the requirements of each publication, meet a high threshold of news value, speak directly to the audience, and present provocative new ideas in compelling ways.
Like good news stories, feature articles, op-eds, and letters to the editor should:
- Identify the controversy around the issue;
- Present interesting data that provokes interest, challenges current belief, and proves a point;
- Draw attention to counter-intuitive aspects of the subject that are surprising;
- Make the issues real by providing specific examples that make the point;
- Enable the reader to see themselves in the story;
- Make the case using colorful language; and
- Present newsworthy information that often ties in with big stories in the news.
The biggest challenge in writing for newspapers and regional magazines is creating a focused argument on a topic that will appeal to a broad range of readers of the publication. Your written material needs to do more than show that something, even a problem, exists. It needs to offer a solution or show why your view of the world is more accurate or relevant than those who differ with you.
Learn the elements of effective leadership preparation program: Drawing from the work of leading researchers and educators from around the country, has identified the characteristics of effective leadership preparation programs. To illustrate, the more efficacious, high quality leadership preparation programs have: a) the majority of program’s coursework taught by full-time tenure-track faculty members who make significant efforts to identify, develop, and promote relevant knowledge focused on the essential problems of schooling, leadership and administrative practice; b) a rigorous selection process, that gives priority to under-served groups, particularly racial/ethnic minorities; c) a clear focus, coherent organization and clarified values about leadership; d) standards based content and internships; e) low student-faculty ratio (i.e., 20-1) and active, student-centered instruction; f) supportive organizational structures to facilitate student retention, engagement and placement; g) strong, collaborative relationships with local school districts; h) a systematic process for evaluating and improving programs and coursework; and i) professional growth opportunities for faculty (Darling-Hammond, et al, 2007; Jackson & Kelly, 2002; Orr, 2007; UCEA, 2005). Programs with such features yield better graduate outcomes—in what they learn and their career advancement, and, in turn, how they practice leadership and foster school improvement (Orr & Orphanos, 2007). For more information, see the UCEA Program Membership Standards in the UCEA Policy Manual (www.ucea.org)
Donate to UCEA: With your financial support and commitment, UCEA will continue to work to ensure that educators have access to excellent educational leadership preparation programs and that those programs prepare them to support teacher quality and student learning and development. You can make a tax-deductible contribution in the following ways:
Donate online. It is easy to make a single gift or a recurring donation through our secure server by using your MasterCard, Visa, or American Express card. Click here to donate online or use the Donate Now button to the right. (NOTE: This feature is currently inactive. If you would like to donate to the Alliance, please use the donate by mail option listed below. The "Donate Now" button should be active by January 19).
Donate by mail. Click here to down load a donation form to include with your check (payable to UCEA) or credit card information. Mail your contribution to:
1 University Station D5400
Austin, TX 78712-0374
Donate assets. Your gift of appreciated stock or other assets can provide you with important tax benefits while also supporting our work to leadership preparation and practice. For details on giving stock, shares in mutual funds, and other assets, please call Lisa Wright, UCEA Financial Director (573) 474-4961.
Thank you for your support. When your donation is received, we will send a confirmation and tax-deduction receipt.