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Public Education Leadership Program (PELP)

Recognizing the crucial importance of successful leadership by school system Superintendents to reform in public education, we proposed a major commitment by HBS to share its expertise in educating management and leaders for business.  With the support of the whole Class of ’63, $4 million was provided, the School linked up with HGSE (a first for Harvard!), and the leadership agreed to focus on the 100 largest school systems – excluding LA and NYC.


The motivating proposition can be quantified in 3 stages: 


1.  If kids in a classroom have a great Teacher, no matter how large or shabby the school, the kids get a great education.


2.  To get great teachers, “all you need” is a strong building Principal and 3-6 year.  The Teachers and the Principal will find each other.


3.  To get strong building Principals, “all you need” is a capable and committed Superintendent and 10-15 years.  The Superintendent and Principals will find each other, and the Principals will find the teachers.


However, there is one awful problem:  The system Superintendent needs 15 years, but their average tenure is only 3 years.


Some get recruited away, but far too many fail – not as educators, but as leaders and managers.  They goof up on labor negotiations or PR or constructing new buildings or on budgets or on strategy or….


HBS knows how to teach these important skills.  HGSE and HBS can create Superintendent-specific cases and make the learning experience truly relevant to the Superintendents and their immediate colleagues.


PELP is now in its third year and, with adaptations, is flourishing.


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