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Kevin W. Riley

Nice Pete. Good stuff. Here is another list... for my fellow revolutionaries who believe that only radical leadership will produce radically different results:

I call it "The Milagro Manifesto: A Subversive Leader's Guide to Leading a School From the Ruins"

(Based on my experience at Mueller Charter School (www.thelightsofelmilagro.com)

1. Eschew the Brand-- create your own brand that defines excellence even while external forces concoct new ways to define public schools as underperforming ('program improvement")

2. Turn Over New Rocks-- Start reading the publication "Fast Company" (www.fastcompany.com) and learn just how universal the characteristics of good leadership, organizational change, and innovation really are...

3. Curse the Darkness-- Ultimately, ending the academic achievement gap in America is not going to come from NCLB policies but from public policy that provides all children access to health care (including vision, hearing, and dental) and policies that address inequities in employment, the economy, housing, higher ed., etc., etc. So be an advocate in your community for policies that get to what hurts kids. And poverty hurts.

4.Lose the Tie-- Sometimes you just have to rip off the tie (and whatever that tie represents) unbutton your shirt and roll up the sleeves. (BTW... I noticed kids relate more to my tattoos than my ties!)

5. All Hail Che Guevarra-- Find examples of courageous leadership in untraditional places...

6. Play Hurt-- All good athletes can play through injuries and pain. Good leaders do too. "What doesn't kill me makes me strong!"

7. Unleash the Lab Rats-- Innovate, fail, innovate, fail, innovate some more, fail some more: "If we want to succeed we have to double our failure rate!" (Founder of IBM)

8. Whisper the Vision-- Shhhhhhh....gently remind them when they are acting like adults that our mission overrides all other issues...

On second thought... don't whisper...

9. SHOUT the Vision-- It's all "Eyes on the Prize"-- our mission is bigger than any of us and our mission is about kids! Stay above the BS.

10. Find the Holy Grail-- No excuses, no turning back, no whining, no quitting... find the solutions to overcoming poverty, and low industry expectations and community lethargy and political grandstanding and create schools that are worthy of the kids they serve.

If we knew what all the answers were to the extraordinarily complex task of teaching human beings we could all go back to the classroom and hire monkeys to be principals to just paint by the numbers. The "answers" are there... somewhere... confined only by our imagination.

To me, this is the most exhilarating aspect of school leadership!

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