Karen Seashore Louis is a Regents Professor and the Robert H. Beck Chair in the Department of Organizational Policy, Leadership, and Development at the University of Minnesota. She has also served as the Director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota, Department Chair, and Associate Dean of the College of Education and Human Development. Her work focuses on school improvement and reform, school effectiveness, leadership in school settings, and the politics of knowledge use in education. Her most recent books include Building Strong School Cultures: A Guide to Leading Change (with Sharon Kruse, 2009), Linking Leadership to Student Learning (with Kenneth Leithwood, 2011), Educational Policy: Political Culture and Its Effects (2012) and Reach the highest standard in professional learning: Leadership (in press, Corwin Press). A Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, she also served as the Vice President of Division A, and on the Executive Board of the University Council for Educational Administration. She has received numerous awards, including the Lifetime Contributions to Staff Development award from the National Staff Development Association (2007), the Campbell Lifetime Achievement Award from the University Council for Educational Administration (2009), and a Life Member designation from the International Congress for School Effectiveness and School Improvement.
In this interview, which is part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Louis shares thoughts on the research she would like to see on school improvement:
…we need to turn our research focus and the attention of school leaders not only to their roles and responsibilities for engaging the emotions of those who are part of the school community, but how the greater community can be mobilized to participate in caring relationships as well, particularly for adolescents. The schools I am working with are at the limit of their capacity to change the life trajectory of youth on their own. More money won’t solve the issues that they face – we need broader achievement zones that focus on older children as well as preschool/early elementary years.
This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also published interviews with Diane Ravitch, and the contributors to Leading Educational Change: Global Issues, Challenges, and Lessons on Whole-System Reform (Teachers College Press, 2013) edited by Helen Janc Malone, have participated in a series of blogs from Education Week.