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What is the best path in order for me to reach my career goals in K-12 Education?

Jorgefr42Jorgefr42 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited May 13 in Graduate School
Hello everyone,

I am a 20 year old student finishing up my bachelors degree at UCLA. I’ll be receiving my degree in Sociology with a minor in Education. I currently have about a year left in my undergrad and I’m starting to plan my course of action for my career.

I have been interning at different districts like LA Unified and Pomona Unified and have gotten a lot face time with administrators and superintendents. My overall career aspiration is to go as high as I possibly can in k-12 career in my life time.

I believe I have what it takes to become an administrator and even a Superintendent given the proper experience, education, and connections. I am a very goal and step by step oriented person though.

Therefore, If any of you have any advice on what would be my best course of action. What order should I get my experience, degrees and credentials.

Should I get a teaching credential, teach for a few years, then go back to school for a masters in educational administration.

Or, should I get a teaching credential with a masters degree in a dual program and run the risk of not being hired due to lack of experience and requiring high pay due to my masters?

I’m more or less having trouble deciding in what steps to take to reach my all time goal of basically running a school district.

I know that there are multiple paths to take in order to reach such a lucrative position like superintendent but I’m just looking for other people’s opinions on what I should do in what order to increase my chances of getting hired in a position like that or increase my chances to get promoted as frequently as possibly in the public education sector.

Thank you!

Replies to: What is the best path in order for me to reach my career goals in K-12 Education?

  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 2,417 Senior Member
    edited May 13
    In real life terms, you probably need to donate to the right politicians.

    Do not get a masters or doctorate without several years of post undergraduate teaching experience.

    I believe that Harvard has a three year doctoral program in education designed to place graduates as key advisors to school superintendents.
  • Jorgefr42Jorgefr42 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    So my best option would be to get certified as soon as possible, gain experience and focus on networking and connections? I know that some teachers get “tapped” to become an administrator so they’re recommended by some admins for a position and maybe that’s when I should go back to school for that masters or doctorate?
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 2,417 Senior Member
    I do not know enough to offer any more advice other than to look at the Harvard program--which is, or at least was, tuition free & included a living stipend.

    Vanderbilt's Peabody website may also be helpful to you.
  • bjkmombjkmom Registered User Posts: 6,310 Senior Member
    Please, please, please, teach for a decade befoere becoming an administrator.

    Right now your entire perspective is that of a student. You need the experience of seeing education from the perspective of a teacher..in a variety of grades and schools.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,320 Forum Champion
    edited May 13
    I traveled a similar path to the one you want to follow. I will tell you what I did.

    I went to a top liberal arts college, majored in English, and studied broadly in the liberal arts, receiving my BA.

    I then directly entered a pre-service Master of Arts program at Teachers College, Columbia University. If you can afford it, or can get a merit scholarship since you are a top student (since you have been going to UCLA), I recommend getting your Master’s immediately after your undergrad degree. In some states, such as New York, you need a Master’s to become fully certified anyway, and, trust me, you will be too busy teaching and participating on committees, etc., to want to work on your Master’s when you are in your first few years of teaching. So get it out of the way quickly and complete all requirements for certification in your desired state. Or, you can start teaching and attend a Master’s program at night after the school day ends.

    My plan was to teach for several years (for credibility as an instructional leader) and then transition into a principal’s role. So that is what I did, near the end of my teaching years picking up my Certificate of Advanced Study at a local grad school, which qualified me for both building and district level certificates for educational administration. I definitely recommend teaching before becoming an administrator. A lot of educational administrative jobs require prior teaching experience, some even setting length requirements (five years, etc.), and it will help you understand the work you will be leading, because teachers are the most instrumental people in their students’ educations. Be sure to participate on lots of committees and build up a leadership resume prior to your transition.

    I served as a principal for eleven years, and then transitioned into a district-wide role as a curriculum director.

    Most superintendents follow a route like this, being an assistant superintendent for curriculum or personnel prior to becoming a superintendent. (I have no interest in being superintendent myself. I like the curriculum role best.)

    @Publisher is incorrect about donations, at least in any school district where I have ever worked or lived. Public school superintendents are appointed by local school districts’ boards of education and require no political connections whatsoever. I also had no networking or connections whatsoever in the districts I moved to each time I moved up the ladder— I just had a good resume, interviewed well, and had good verbal recommendations when they called my employers to ask about me as the final step in the hiring process. For one job, a committee also visited my old school and interviewed teachers and parents about me.

    FWIW, I always haved worked in districts that were located on Long Island, a wealthy suburban area outside New York City.

    Good luck!

    P.S. Please follow this route only if you are passionate about education and making a difference in students’ lives. “Lucrative” should not be the main goal in this important field, nor is it the best field in which to make the most money.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 2,417 Senior Member
    edited May 13
    @TheGreyKing is wrong about donations at least in any school district where I have lived. Of course one can substitute "donations" with "political connections".

    In fact, where I grew up, one had to pay in order to secure a job as a teacher in the public school district. Not kidding & not a joke.
  • Jorgefr42Jorgefr42 Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thank you so much for the advice!! That was great and really gave me a perspective of how someone did it and the possible routes I can take.

    I have been tutoring for about a year at my home district and in downtown Los Angeles and I really do care about making a change for the students. I find myself spending most of the little money I make on them! haha

    What I meant by lucrative was that it’s a very high position and that I don’t expect to acquire it anytime soon in my life time so I wanted to know what steps I could take to get there and have the ability to make the most change happen in such an influential role.

    Again, I want to thank you so much for your help and I will definitely be taking your advice.

    Best,
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,320 Forum Champion
    @Jorgefr42 - You are welcome. Best of luck to you!
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 2,417 Senior Member
    @Jorgefr42 : If you want to become a superintendent for the LA Area Unified School District, it is a political position where you need to get elected. In other areas of the country, it is an appointed political position.

  • techmom99techmom99 Registered User Posts: 2,619 Senior Member
    @publisher -

    I agree with @TheGreyKing about Long Island. Maybe where you come from, superintendent is an appointed political position, but here the super is hired after a search conducted by an elected Board of Elections, which is comprised of residents in the school district.

    You need to learn if you need a masters. Here in NY, you are required to have one within a certain amount of time. My D attended a 5 year program where she came out with her UG and masters together. Some districts may prefer recent grads without masters because they can pay less, but my D got a job in NYC very easily.
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,192 Super Moderator
    Regardless of whether superintendents are elected or appointed (a little research shows that the vast majority of superintendents are appointed by school boards, but some are elected), that is down the line for you quite a ways. The one thing that virtually all superintendents have in common is that they have taught in K-12 schools for some time - usually at least 5 years, sometimes as many as 10 or more - before moving into administrative roles. So if you want to go into educational administration, you should get some teaching experience first. And in order to do that, you need to get whatever credential LAUSD or wherever you want to teach requires.

    It appears that the minimum requirements for teaching in California are a bachelor's degree plus the completion of a teacher preparation program. Here are the ways you can do that if you want to teach elementary school (https://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/teach-elementary) and if you want to teach high school (https://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/teach-secondary).

    It seems like in order to get your credentials you can do a regular credentialing program or you can get a master's (like an M.Ed or an MAT).
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 2,417 Senior Member
    @Jorgefr42: There is a wealth of information readily available on the internet regarding school superintendents' positions.

    State School Superintendents and the Messy Business of Politics published in January, 2014 is one.

    Better suited for your interests at this time is the ECS--Education Commission of the States non-partisan one page report from this year showing, sometimes incorrectly, local superintendent positions and whether they are elected or appointed and, if appointed, by what authority (school board, mayor or governor).

    You will find huge discrepancies among the percentage of superintendents who are elected (from 1% to 25% depending upon the source.)

    I have only known two state school superintendents and both were elected and both were & are highly partisan.
  • MandalorianMandalorian Registered User Posts: 1,673 Senior Member
    Obviously, it can vary considerably by district and state, but the common denominator is teaching experience. It's important to be considered seriously as a candidate and also to build connections and rapport with current administrators and power brokers.

    Also, don't rule out private schools. They need administrators too, although the required credentials can sometimes be higher with many having Doctor of Education degrees.
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