When you want to know the best 20 steps to take to improve the work and learning atmosphere in your school or how to pass a bond referendum, build a business case (with forecasting and benchmarking), significantly raise your schools’ reading scores, or wear the right shoes when the top school office is yours, then talk to top superintendents (and former principals) plunk in Middle America, like Illinois!  

Our picks were Jim Rosborg, Max McGee, and Jim Burgett. Their biographies show why.

We gave them a dual mission: (1) Tell their colleagues how to be both effective leaders in a school setting and innovators with curriculum, and (2) Openly discuss every major problem facing in-the-field school administrators and principals today. The only guidelines were absolute honesty, clarity, real examples, and as little mumbo-jumbo jargon as possible.

The one area we couldn’t adequately confront was finance, which in most states is relatively prescriptive. But we zeroed in on grant writing, collective bargaining, bond issues, foundation-forming, union-supporting, and technology—the kinds of financial things this book’s readers can do something about.

We feel that learning from others who daily face the same headaches and hopes that you do is usually a whole lot more useful than trying to build a book around patched-up, outdated procedures templates. So we have tried to cram as much practical how-to stuff into 320 pages as we could, and then set up a website with even more follow-up info, plus the authors’ photos!   

While the pages in this book read conversationally, the advice is flat-out serious, because schools and teaching kids is about as serious a task as we face in America today. Nonetheless, fun somehow crept into the prose. But don’t be deceived: Jim R., Max, and Jim B. are three decorated school dudes who care—and dare to share. They eagerly agreed to write this book because they want every one of you to succeed every time.


The Second Edition!


The introduction above, and the first edition of this book that it introduced, found such positive reception that we sold out three full printings, plus a fourth run solely made for an investment firm that wanted all of the administrators in its area to have a copy on their desk! 

Now it’s well into 2006 and rather than simply go to press as is again, I asked each of the authors to update his chapters (several were virtually rewritten with new material) and to provide us with five new case studies to add to the earlier ones, so we could keep the information current and immediately applicable.

They happily complied with this grumpy old editor’s requests, although “happily” may be a tad exaggerated. That was a double good fortune because it makes this upgraded edition even better than the first, which has also been widely adapted as a textbook for graduate school administration classes across the country.

My requests were a real imposition because all three were at the same time writing the heart of a composite grand new book with a working title of The Perfect School.

Another benefit has accrued since the release of What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know in 2003. All three of the editors, by popular demand, are gracing lecture halls, educational conferences, and school administrator upgrade gatherings, building on the book’s old and new contents, and sprinkling in up-to-date applications.

So here it is, what we call in-house “Supt #2,” with new windows and repainted doors on a still-fresh foundation that we think will stand strong for centuries. Good stuff, with more good stuff. 


Gordon Burgett, Publisher


Check here if you want to order the book (in print or digital format) or one of the many reports from the
"Excellence in Education for Superintendents and Principals" series...

Would you like to read Chapter 1?



Education Communication Unlimited

(800) 563-1454