Virginia Collier (1991-1992)
Reflection and Fearless Analysis…
As president of TCWSE in 1991-92, I consider my most important accomplishment to be the merging with TASA. TCWSE needed the financial relief and acceptance by male administrators across the state that this joining with TASA represented. It should also be noted that this also was the beginning of our relationship with the amazing Ann Halstead!
While it may seem that such collaboration would be a no-brainer in terms of a good move for TCWSE, the coming together had many opponents. Female superintendents were still a rarity in the state and there were male superintendents who told their female executives to stay away from a "feminist" organization if they valued their careers. While I doubt those statements are being made today, I suspect that the idea of an organization whose major efforts are to promote female educators is still suspect. I must point out, however, that TCWSE has always welcomed and had male members. Without their support, this organization would not have been formed or managed to survive for 30 years.
The effort to gain TASA's support began under 1990-91 under President Susan Sclafani and continued into my term where the collaboration was finally formalized. TASA's Executive Committee of all men was not entirely supportive of the idea. For one thing, it was an expense for them as their staff would begin providing support. Since I was a superintendent in the Austin area, Johnny Veselka and I held several lunch meetings over those two years at which we discussed this initiative and how to make it a reality. I am proud to say that Johnny was supportive from the very beginning. I did a lot of listening and followed his lead as to how and when to best approach the Executive Committee to insure success. It was one of my first important experiences in the political process.
All the opposition did not come from TASA, however. Some women within TCWSE opposed the move because they felt we would lose our focus as a support group for women and disappear within TASA's structure. I'm happy to say that this did not happen but it was considered in the discussions that Johnny and I held.
Future of TCWSE…
I believe that TCWSE has an important role as one of the state's professional organizations. Public education is fighting battles on many fronts. The majority of superintendents are still men. An organization that provides support for all aspiring educators but particularly for higher-level female administrators is needed now just as it was over 20 years ago. Within our conferences, friendships and new contacts are made. Education and the children of Texas benefit from the existence of TCWSE.