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Educational Leadership in Crisis: Reflections from a Pandemic


In the nearly 2 years since the SARS-CoV-2 virus burst on the American scene, more than 850,000 Americans have died, and elections have literally been won or lost on public officials’ positions and actions in response to COVID-19. Nowhere have the tensions and leadership demands been more visible than in the school systems that serve elementary and secondary school children, their parents, and communities. Educational Leadership in Crisis: Reflections From a Pandemicexplores how some California district leaders have responded to the initial and continuing COVID-19 crisis, using the reflections of superintendents in the California Collaborative on District Reform to reveal patterns, themes, and lessons. The brief also considers the impact that the pandemic and school closures have had on the leaders themselves and the implications of that impact for the future.  The authors conclude by applying the principles of high reliability organizations to suggest how local districts and their leaders might capitalize on the work to date, not only to navigate the continuing challenges of the current pandemic and recovery but also to prepare for the inevitable crises of the future.

For other resources from the California Collaborative related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see

Brief (1.4 MB)