Milestones in AASA's History (1865-2015)
In 1865, AASA was founded by a small group of men in Harrisburg, Pa. It was initially named the National Association of School Administrators. Read more about AASA History here.
A timeline of significant events, as well as a photo gallery of some interesting people and events provides a glimpse of AASA’s history and some of the people who helped steer the organization as it grew and changed.
The February issue of School Administrator magazine provides details online. You may also download this timeline in PDF format.
This historical timeline, produced on the
occasion of the 150th anniversary of AASA's founding, contains many
of the milestone moments of the association's rich past.
By Liz Griffin
The National Association of School Superintendents organizes on Aug. 17, 1865. It is the first national association
to limit membership to school administrators.
Rev. Birdsey Grant Northrop is
elected first president. Nine states and 20 cities are represented at the first
NASS merges with the National Teachers Association and
the American Normal School Association to become the National Educational Association. NASS becomes the NEA Department of School
resolution: In all cases of absence, a pupil’s name
should be kept on the roll as “belonging” for three whole days and dropped by
the seventh day if the child has not shown up.
Members rally Congress to fund universal public schools to educate emancipated African Americans.
The organization urges Congress to provide
public funds for centralizing rural schools and transporting pupils.
The Department of School Superintendence
formally resolves that large-city schools teach the children of immigrants and adults unable to speak English.
AASA engages in debate about sex education
being delivered in schools, generating controversy.
During World War I, the association opposes
compulsory military training in schools until the government answers
“The American schools met the test of war;
the schools were a mighty agency for victory,” NASS declares.
Sherwood Dodge Shankland becomes the first executive secretary of the NEA Department of School Superintendence at an
annual salary of $6,000.
AASA begins to charge a membership fee of $5 a year.
Shankland’s first budget shows expenditures
of $14,400 and estimated income of $14,748.34.
Membership records reveal 1,263 had joined the association. (No records existed prior to this date.)
The first yearbook is published (and continues annually until 1960), featuring
research on the superintendency. For many, yearbooks served as textbooks.
The Educational Research Service is started by NEA as a clearinghouse of information.
The first American Education Award
recipient is James W. Crabtree, executive secretary of NEA.
The Great Depression
Despite the Depression, the convention draws
crowds to Atlantic City, N.J., with 5,850 hotel rooms booked and 248
Convention entertainment includes 10 golden
harp players, a band, orchestra and 500 singers on stage.
To make payroll, some association staff are
put on half salary for extended periods, and Shankland and others borrow on
their personal life insurance.
Members approve a name change.
The NEA’s Department of School Superintendence becomes the American Association of School Administrators, a department of NEA.
The War Years
AASA’s 1943 convention is canceled under orders from the U.S. Office of Defense
Transportation. AASA’s income shrinks.
First issue of The School Administrator, a one-page newsletter, is published.
AASA organizes five regional wartime conferences to minimize strain on hotel and transportation systems.
AASA national convention and regional meetings are canceled at request of the War Committee on Conventions to reserve
hotels for service and war personnel.
S. D. Shankland retires Sept. 1 after 25 years as the first full-time executive secretary. During his tenure, membership
increased fivefold to more than 6,000.
Worth McClure becomes the second executive secretary. He retires in 1956.
Regional conferences are held in Kansas
City, Chicago, New York and Atlanta.
The first national conference since 1942 is held; attendance is 9,600.
Committee authorizes an annual meeting of presidents of state associations.
Membership dues double to
$10 a year as AASA expands services and staffing.
AASA launches a series of pamphlets on
school board-superintendent relations with topics including “Choosing the
Superintendent of Schools” and “The School Board in Action.”
AASA’s Cooperative Program in Educational
Administration focuses on professional
advancement of administrators through university
AASA amends the qualifications for
membership to include graduate study. School boards revise qualifications for the
superintendency to require the same.
Regional drive-in conferences are launched as a
joint effort between AASA and state associations.
America’s School Buildings is published, establishing AASA’s expertise in the
burgeoning school facility field.
AASA’s first school building exhibit is
held with architectural
exhibits and a competition at AASA’s convention.
For the first time, activities designated
for women appear on AASA’s official convention program.
Membership in AASA tops 10,000.
AASA’s Committee for the Advancement of
School Administration receives Kellogg Foundation funds for in-service education.
Finis Ewing Engleman
becomes the third executive secretary of AASA.
AASA’s final yearbook is
published with resources shifted to other publications.
AASA publishes Planning America’s School
Buildings on the responsibility for schoolhouse planning.
AASA’s new Committee on Federal Policy and Legislation studies the relationships between the federal government
and local schools.
Exhibit revenue at conventions provides
42 percent of the association’s half-million-dollar annual budget.
Growing Awareness of Diversity
Women make up only 3-4 percent of
AASA members, mostly assistant superintendents, and the AASA executive
secretary acknowledges a problem.
More than 26,000 register for the annual convention, including 8,000 AASA members, 5,000 wives and other
family members and 3,500 school board members.
The Singing Superintendents debut at AASA’s national convention.
New convention topics
address educational technology, handling teacher contract negotiations and
dealing with student segregation.
AASA becomes an associated organization of
NEA, rather than an NEA department.
AASA’s National Academy of School Executives, or NASE, begins offering training in locations
NEA’s president attacks school
administrators in the press, straining relations with AASA.
30,000 attend AASA’s 101st convention, featuring
10 general sessions and more than 100 closed-circuit television programs.
AASA’s legislative program calls for a
cabinet-level Department of Education.
AASA strengthens eight state associations
of school administrators, granting $83,500 to employ state executive
secretaries, still part-time in many states.
Paul Salmon becomes AASA’s fourth executive director.
AASA’s executive responds to White House
statement on busing and equal educational opportunity by requesting full
funding of ESEA Title I.
AASA moves from NEA headquarters to its own building in Arlington, Va., along with three
other education groups.
AASA runs Circuit Riders program, taking
training programs on the road to various regions.
AASA severs all ties with NEA and becomes an autonomous organization.
County and intermediate unit
superintendents are brought under the AASA umbrella, becoming the American
Association of Educational Service Agencies.
Membership surpasses 21,000.
The Federal Relations breakfast event at AASA
convention draws 400.
AASA’s Executive Committee discusses
whether representation should be regionalized and reviews procedures for
electing a president.
AASA’s first Delegate Assembly adopts 41 resolutions, include opposition to national
collective bargaining and employee strikes and support of affirmative action
for women and minorities.
Member dues increase from $40 to $75.
AASA’s National Academy of School Executives serves more than 3,500 administrators at 65 short
The first issue of the Convention
Reporter offers a daily wrapup of AASA conference
AASA runs a Washington Workshop to
encourage greater involvement of school leaders in the federal legislative
Leadership for Learning is
adopted as AASA’s new slogan.
The AASA National Center for the
Improvement of Learning is launched.
The Executive Committee creates
the Foundation Fund to raise money toward purchase of AASA headquarters.
AASA takes title on Sept. 29 to new headquarters at 1801 North Moore St. in Arlington, Va. The purchase
price is $1.35 million.
Rev. Jesse Jackson heads up keynoters at AASA convention and receives the
Golden Key Award.
A daily convention tabloid
newspaper, along with the post-event Convention Reporter, provide
thorough event coverage of AASA convention.
AASA gains attention for its Critical Issue Report on School Energy Crisis: Problems
A Ford Foundation grant enables AASA to run
leadership workshops for 75 female leaders aspiring for the superintendency.
AASA mails the Job Bulletin, a new
with job listings nationwide.
The first annual summer convention in
Minneapolis draws about 4,000.
AASA shapes federal energy legislation that
yields millions in matching funds for fuel-saving renovations in schools.
AASA National Women’s Caucus criticizes the association for
lack of a woman on the Executive Committee and mounts a campaign to elect a candidate.
AASA conducts a major survey on the
attitudes toward women administrators.
The AASA Professor newsletter is launched to highlight research
presentations at AASA conventions.
Effie Jones is hired to direct the Office
of Minority Affairs,
promoting women in leadership positions.
A concern about energy conservation leads TheSchool Administrator to publish the “Oil Remaining Index.”
AASA plays a significant role in creating the U.S. Department of
Working with the National School Boards
Association, AASA produces a career development series, including
"Selecting a Superintendent," "The Superintendent's Employment
Contract" and "Compensation of the Superintendent."
Twenty-six state associations apply to AASA
for funds for a half-time or full-time executive position.
AASA’s first Suburban Superintendents Conference is held.
AASA/AAESA co-sponsor the first federal legislative policy conference, later known as “I Care” and “We Care.”
The first Women District Superintendents
Conference is held in Anaheim, Calif., with 47 participants.
The School Administrator is transformed
from a newsletter to a magazine, and
the publication begins accepting commercial advertising a year later.
Superintendent Bill Keough, a former U.S. hostage held in Iran who had been recently released, receives a standing
ovation at the AASA national conference.
AASA’s first Small Schools Conference is held in Vail, Colo.
The Small School Administrator newsletter is
produced quarterly and mailed to more than 8,000 school districts.
Member dues are $125 with
special rates for students, retired members and professors.
AASA seeks Delegate Assembly approval to
adjust dues based on increases in administrators’ salaries. The annual
convention draws 17,000.
AASA plans the 2nd Study of the
Representation of Women and Minorities in School Administration for the
AASA publishes “The American School
Superintendents 1982,” part of a continuing decennial study.
The federal LEAD bill, written by AASA, is
funded by Congress to train school administrators.
Richard D. Miller becomes the fifth executive director of AASA.
Leadership News debuts as a monthly eight-page newspaper tabloid.
NASE celebrates its 19th year, having held
more than 1,175 programs for nearly 47,000 administrators.
Series of Firsts
AASA initiates HIV/AIDS work to develop guidelines for administrators, a slide-tape
presentation and workshops.
June Gabler is elected the first woman president of AASA.
AASA creates a curriculum audit service to
provide districts with an external analysis of their curriculum management
Gene Carter is named first
National Superintendent of the Year.
AASA’s National Executive Development
Program begins its second year with 26 state associations joining.
Membership grows to 18,900.
AASA’s Options for Pre-Teens initiative begins.
Conference attendance falls to 11,000.
The “1990s Study of the American School Superintendents” is published.
AASA approves Professional Standards for the Superintendency, developed by a special commission.
Executive Director Richard Miller retires,
and Paul D. Houston succeeds him as the sixth executive director.
Paul Houston’s first year includes a 17-day
news media tour.
AASA pursues a decade--long initiative to
create healthy school environments and improve indoor air quality.
AASA launches its first website.
Leadership News goes online, providing time-sensitive information and
Benjamin Canada becomes the first
African American president of AASA.
AASA prepares to sell its building in
Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va., and move to new quarters in the Ballston
AASA’s Stand Up for Children
initiative includes a rally on the Washington Mall.
obesity initiative offers members resources,
and AASA publishes sHealthy Learning News and School Governance and
AASA’s new governance structure creates a seven-region governing body.
AASA uses an electronic legislative alert to connect members to congressional representatives.
AASA’s webcast series, Narrowing the Achievement Gap: A Work in Progress, makes professional development more accessible.
AASA’s e-pubs include Legislative Corps Weekly Report and
the Journal of Scholarship & Practice.
AASA promotes systems thinking through its
Center for System Leadership.
A $1.5 million cooperative agreement from
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention enables AASA to address asthma, in schools.
The AASA convention in New Orleans draws
5,000 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Conference Daily
publishes online because the only overnight printer had shut down.
AASA plays a key role in the “Ready by 21” project to improve children’s preparedness
for college, work and life.
Daniel A. Domenech becomes the first Latino
to serve as executive director. He is AASA’s seventh executive director.
AASA conducts more than 15 surveys on the economic impact of the recession in
school districts. Surveys prove critical
in development of 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 2010 Jobs
AASA produces the New Superintendents’
Journal for distribution by state affiliates.
AASA’s new website design delivers more
member services – blogs, podcasts and learning communities.
Rebranded and Recharged: 2011
AASA moves into shared headquarters with
National Association of Elementary School Principals at 1615 Duke St. in
Alexandria, Va. Purchase share: $3.01 million.
A sponsored initiative allows AASA to
promote alternative models of school breakfast
delivery in 99 schools.
AASA and the Children’s Defense Fund
partner on a multiyear initiative to enroll
children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Coordinated school health becomes a focus for AASA’s children’s programs, undertaken with external funding.
The News of the Nation e-newsletter
AASA releases “The American School
Superintendent: 2010 Decennial Study.”
AASA holds a joint Women in School
Leadership Forum with its California affiliate.
AASA school discipline practices and school
AASA’s Conference Daily, a four-day
e-newsletter with a group blog and Twitter feed, wins a national award.
A rebranded AASA introduces a new logo and
a new name: AASA, The School Superintendents
AASA launches the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program.
AASA introduces a mobile app, including a digital edition of School
AASA celebrates 150 years.
Liz Griffin is managing editor of School
Administrator magazine. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org