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To JEA readers and contributors: a reflection
Article Type: To JEA readers and contributors: a reflection From: Journal of Educational Administration, Volume 50, Issue 1
Fifty years on, we can say that the world of 2012 is immeasurably better in some important ways than it was in 1963.
For today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of JEA, we can say that our profession – educational leadership – has come of age, our understanding of the complex organisational workings of schools has increased immeasurably and our cross-national links with each other have taken on much deeper meaning.
Many factors have of course contributed to this half-century of change. From my perspective, as current President of the Commonwealth Council for Educational Administration and Management, a duality of factors is pre-eminent. First was “the Walker factor” – the dynamism of the greatest and most significant of Australian educators who was primarily responsible for the establishment of educational administration in Australia (at the University of New England) and who also spawned, nurtured and shaped both the Journal of Educational Administration and the CCEAM. Second was “the Thomas et al. factor” – the continuity provided across that half century by a most remarkable cadre of Advisory Board members, referees, editors, and their chief editor, Ross Thomas. I know of no other publication anywhere in the world that can boast such devotion to duty, such productivity or such insight. In 2010, a total of 136,620 JEA downloads occurred across the globe. Each of those “downloaders” owes a debt of gratitude to Ross and his team.
My career, recently concluded, was dominated more by JEA than by any other publication. I first encountered it at the University of Alberta in the early 1970s, where exceptional professors like Ted Holdaway, Gordon Mowat and Ernie Ingram insisted that students use JEA as a prime source of their readings. Then at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a decade later, James Lipham did the same thing. When I returned to Australia in 1986 there were no surprises for me in what was being discussed at ACEA conferences or what was used as source material in University postgraduate courses. It was largely Walker-ish, with an inordinate reliance on JEA. When Bill passed away a half decade later I think we all thought the world would end. It didn’t because a generation of us determined to continue the great man’s work – and because JEA didn’t die with him. Indeed, it took advantage of changes in digital technology and flourished more than ever.
Most of the educational leaders whom I represent as President of CCEAM are from poor, if not impoverished, nations. While JEA and CCEAM to some extent parted ways in 1995 (when the CCEAM office was transferred from the University of New England to New Zealand) CCEAM members are as dependent today on JEA as a key source of knowledge and wisdom as they ever were. With the assistance of technology, they may indeed be more so.
One final thought. In 2010 the Australian Research Council undertook to provide a “rating” of all major international journals, across all major disciplines. Word got out that the rating ascribed to JEA by the ARC agency (known as “ERA”) was offensively low. A counter-attack was mounted, led by Gabrielle Lakomski and Neil Cranston, and possibly including more than 50 vocal key educational leadership figures. So where are we, a year later? JEA is flying higher than ever. ERA has been disbanded.
And so JEA enters a new era, with new editorship and, no doubt, new goals. It is incumbent on all of us who have benefited from the Walker-Thomas tradition to ensure that when the next half-century of JEA is being celebrated there will be at least as much to celebrate as there is today. Bill Walker would certainly want that, and I am sure that Ross Thomas does too.
Emeritus Professor Frank CrowtherAM, President, CCEAM