I have worked in education for more than 20 years now, the last 10 of them in higher education. One is not better than the other because we need strong K12 education in order to have successful higher education candidates. Something I will say K12 does do better than Higher Ed is certifications.
While I am not especially fond of the current K12 teacher certification process, I do like that for every type of educational position, whether it is academic, counselling, or leadership, you must acquire training.
Higher education has no such training requirement. If you are an instructor you must obviously show subject matter competency, usually through your degree and sometimes through work experience, and for an academic leader, there is no specific training. Why is that?
A PhD does not necessarily give you the skills needed to be a competent academic leader; plus, more and more, especially in the non-traditional market, a doctorate is not required for a leadership positions anyway. Traditionally, leaders in Higher Ed are chosen by seniority, sometimes they are even chosen by drawing the short straw (true story).
Is this in the best interest of students?
Unless the school that you are working for has a formal leadership training program (most do not), or you are lucky to have good mentors (no guarantee), you are almost on your own in learning how to become an academic leader. There are a few certifications in the process of being created, but it is my belief that there are not enough of them out there; especially in the non-traditional career focused schools (with high veteran populations).
Currently, the ETeam has proposed and is putting together a certification program that will help fill this existing gap. It takes existing tools and materials, makes them accessible, understandable, and applicable to the 21st century challenges faced by leaders in this specialized arena. Most importantly, we are striving to offer this at cost. It is uniquely designed for those working the front lines of this arena of leadership, so it is our belief that all should benefit from it.
Is there truly a need you ask? Ask yourself this instead: what is the turnover for academic leaders in this arena (answer it is high)? Are students being best served by maintaining the status quo? Are employees being best served by maintaining the status quo?
The faculty that are involved in shaping this program are top notch professionals, experienced in military and civilian populations, and have seen the result of the status quo in this arena and are passionate enough to put forth some solutions.
It is time to get off the sidelines and produce solutions where possible!
Dr Flavius A B Akerele III