George J. Peterson, a professor in the College of Education, recently co-authored and co-edited a book providing a wide spectrum of research in the education field, not only based on his expertise, but the expertise of seven other hand-picked scholars.

Petersen and fellow scholar Lance Fusarelli, associate professor at North Carolina State University, came up with the book’s theme, “The Politics of Leadership: Superintendents and School Boards in Changing Times,” after the two co-authored a paper on the national reform efforts that schools are required to follow.

“The book deals with superintendents and boards of education,” Peterson said. “What makes this book unique is it doesn’t treat them as separate entities but focuses on the relationship of them working together in the development of policy and leadership and how that effects the quality of education for all children.”

Both professors proceeded to hand-pick seven well-respected scholars in their field, inviting them to write a chapter in the book. Petersen, Fusarelli and all seven professors each individually authored a chapter based on their current research and findings in their particular field.

“My work has looked at superintendents and school board presidents, but we had a person write a chapter about the issue of power and we had on person write a chapter about special interest groups and their influence on the board. Another person wrote a chapter on the media and how that influences groups and we had someone write about rethinking the role of the superintendent,” Petersen said.

The book was one of the first in its field to address the relationship between superintendent and board of education. In the past, scholars often researched these topics as individual entities, Petersen said.

“The book focuses on the politics of education as it relates to superintendents and school boards, how they interact and how that relationship affects schooling for kids. The book itself address the research that has been done on these relationships and using that framework it presents different studies of the relationship,” Fusarelli said. “All of the chapters in the book focus on different aspects of how superintendents and school boards get along or don’t get along.”

Petersen and Fusarelli went through an intricate process in choosing professors to co-author the book.

All selected professors were well-respected for their accomplishments and expertise in the field of education.

“We hand-picked scholars and then initially had a symposium at a national conference and had some of the authors present papers on their potential topic,” Petersen said. “We did that for a year and then finalized the nine chapters that we were going to do. It was probably about a two-year process.”

All nine authors lived in different areas of the country, making communication take place at national conferences and through tele-conferencing. After completing each chapter, authors sent their manuscripts to Petersen and Fusarelli, who co-edited each one.

“Professors are like herding cats – they have their own ideas of how things should go,” Petersen said. “But these are very brilliant people and they are very well know. They are the top in their field and I was editing their work. It helped my own learning by editing the top scholars in the field.”

“The Politics of Leadership: Superintendents and School Boards in Changing Times” will be a useful resource for preparation programs, graduate programs and practitioners because of its academic status and extensive citations, Fusarelli said.

“I will use the book in my classes because several of the chapters speak to what’s going on in schools,” Fusarelli said. “It is a way for them to see both the positive and negative aspects of these relationships and how it affects kids. There are cases in this book where they get along somewhat, but there are actually more instances of conflict, which is actually more interesting to read.”

Petersen and Fusarelli’s new publication costs $31.95 online at and copies are available in the Cal Poly Kennedy Library

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *