I'm teaching a course in organizational theory this semester, and our textbook lays out some basics right off the bat. Among these is that "The most common improvement strategy is upgrading management." (p. 9)
Which struck me because few in ed policy seem terribly concerned with it. Sure, we have some mayoral takeovers and some turnaround schools and new charters of course need to hire new leaders. But, in the grand scheme of things, I see little to no effort to seriously upgrade the management of schools -- at either the district or school levels.
Our attention, instead, focuses disproportionately on teachers. I don't want to suggest that blaming somebody else would be particularly productive, but I genuinely understand why more people aren't blaming educational leaders.
The authors continue "Modern mythology promises that organizations will work splendidly if well managed." Which also struck me, since I rarely here about a school needing only a great principal to succeed. And, actually, outside of a few success stories (e.g. the KIPPs), I don't hear much of anything about great school leaders.
So I guess the flip side would be that people don't particularly credit school and district leaders for success either.
I should add one caveat to both of those conjectures, though: at the very local level (think of your child's school or your local district), I think educational leaders tend to receive a fair amount of scrutiny and both the flak and praise that go along with that.
At the national level, though, I hear almost nothing. Concerted efforts to recruit or train more talented leaders are few and far between. New evaluation and merit pay schemes for leaders have been quietly implemented some places, but received little attention. And op-ed pages are silent about the need to upgrade our school management if we want to solve the civil rights problem of our generation. Puzzling.