Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MPUSD Superintendent search: what Trustees do not need.

I'll chime in the ongoing conversation taking place in Monterey regarding the search for a new superintendent.

And I'll take issue with an idea that was floated by Herald editors in the Nov. 12 editorial  titled "Monterey Peninsula school board needs help." I agree with the idea that trustees need assistance in steering the ship --  although I don't see it crashing against the rocks anytime soon.

The trustees are a very trusting bunch. They should be: once they hire their top administrator, they have to rely on his or her advice. Yes, they have to do their due diligence, but they can't be second-guessing  the person they hired to do a job every step of the way.

Which brings us to the next point: what  kind of person should they hire to do the job. Herald editors suggested the board not only look at conventional places -- i.e. other school districts -- but look outside the box and think about CEOs, lawyers, ex-military, and other folks with managerial experience, even if they don't have experience in the educational realm.

That's what I'll take issue with. It's been tried, and it doesn't work. 

MPUSD doesn't need a general and I don't believe a person from the private sector would do it either. Yes, there are strong managers everywhere, but I don't believe that would be a good fit for this district.  The district needs somebody who can build trust among administrators and from the rank and file -- and having a person with no experience in education would not bode well for him/her from the get-go. Perhaps the district should look into hiring another interim superintendent and groom a candidate from within.

Don't take my word for it. Read these two columns by renown educator Larry Cuban, who describes in this column the thinking behind supporting CEOs, lawyers and other non-educators as superintendents. In this other one, he describes what's happened when non-educators get appointed to the top job.

If you want to skip to the bottom, I'll give it to you.

"The dream of corporate-inspired reformers for nearly two decades that governance changes and non-educators as managers in urban districts will turnaround failing schools and erase the test score achievement gap has yet to materialize."

In other words, it doesn't work. So let's not go there. 

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