Executive Training Offered to State and District Leaders

June 28, 2006


Contact: Jessica Schwartz
Senior Communications Officer
The Wallace Foundation

Unprecedented Executive Training Offered to
State and District
Education Leaders 

The Wallace Foundation awards two $5 million grants to Harvard University and the University of Virginia to draw on perspectives of education, business and public policy

Training begins this summer for leadership teams from
Delaware, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio

NEW YORK, June 28, 2006 Harvard University, the University of Virginia and The Wallace Foundation jointly announced today the launch of unprecedented executive training programs – drawing on the multiple perspectives and expertise of faculty from education, business and public policy – for senior teams of state and district education leaders, beginning this summer.

In an era when education leaders are held accountable for raising the academic performance of all students, the job of leading today’s schools has seriously outpaced the available training, especially for state and district leaders who set policy for and lead complex urban districts. The Executive Leadership Program for Educators at Harvard University and the University of Virginia in association with The Wallace Foundation will emphasize mid-career development of teams of high-level education leaders that share responsibility for making changes in their organizations and across their states to broadly improve school leadership and its impact on student achievement.

Wallace awarded a $5 million grant for up to five years to each university, one private and one public, to create an unmatched training opportunity for education leaders. Harvard University will involve faculty across the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The University of Virginia (U.Va.) program is jointly organized by the Curry School of Education and the Darden School of Business and will be presented by U.Va.’s Darden-Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education.

“School leadership is as demanding a profession as any business or public sector job, especially in an era of rising public expectations and greater accountability for results,” said Robert Schwartz, Academic Dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Chair of the Executive Leadership Program Steering Committee. “What makes this initiative special is our ability to follow participants back into their home settings to provide ongoing support throughout the life of the program.”

“We recognized several years ago at U.Va. that executive education is as valuable for mid-career education leaders as it is for business leaders. The Darden-Curry Partnership has established a track record of achievement in this unique form of collaboration, and the Wallace grant will carry our activities to new levels of performance and civic contribution,” added Curry School Dean David W. Breneman, University Professor and the Newton and Rita Meyers Professor in Economics of Education.

“There are many training programs for school principals, but few exist for top state and district education leaders who establish policies, incentives and cultures that enable those principals to succeed in lifting student achievement,” added M. Christine DeVita, president of The Wallace Foundation. “Wallace recently commissioned a survey that reveals a strong demand for this kind of executive training, particularly if it can overcome barriers of cost and time. These unprecedented Harvard and U.Va. programs aim to address the barriers, while offering a quality experience for very busy people to greatly improve public education in their states and districts.”

Harvard and U.Va. will each work with two states, and four urban districts within each state, to form the first cohorts of leaders to participate in the programs. Leadership teams from Kentucky and Ohio will participate in Harvard’s program; teams from Delaware and Indiana will attend the program at U.Va. All states are currently participating in the Wallace education leadership initiative.

The executive leadership training programs will provide an opportunity for participating state and district teams to work more collaboratively in such areas as leading change and team development, leadership for instructional improvement, methods to accelerate leader performance, addressing stakeholder engagement around critical state and local issues, and sustaining improvements in school and student achievement.

By the end of two years, the goal is for each state and district team to have well-trained leaders that have had extensive practice in effective problem-solving approaches and to apply them in ways that result in significant improvements in education leadership practices and student learning at the state, district and school levels. Both universities envision sustaining the program after Wallace funding ends through a mix of public and private revenue.

The Harvard and U.Va. programs (see attached for more detail) may also provide valuable lessons to other colleges and universities on how to build sustainable leadership programs – drawing on the expertise of their education, business and other schools – that can fill the unmet demand for high-quality, job-relevant training to senior education leaders, while being feasible in terms of the time and cost to participants.