Thursday, January 9, 2014

Give MPUSD trustees a break

Soon after officials with the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District announced a round of  community meetings to gather information for the next superintendent, the district's naysayers lifted their heads.

The trustees are posturing, said the anonymous email I pointed to in my story about trustees in today's paper. 

"This board and previous incarnations have a sketchy record when it comes to hiring superintendents, which is no surprise," the email reads. "It is an exceptionally hard job and there is a shortage of qualified candidates nationwide. The job is so political and school district politics so mercurial that even a supremely qualified superintendent will likely encounter career-threatening storms early and often."

The email then describes the district's effort in finding a superintendent "a spectacular flop because of a seriously inadequate vetting process."

And the email goes on and on. You get the idea.

The writer's ultimate advice is a good one: trustees should probably get advice from personnel experts on how to evaluate the potential finalist. No quibble with that one.

What I'd like to take issue with is a) the tone of the email, and b) the overall implication that this board is inept and misguided.

We're not going to get anywhere if this district continues with its well-documented habit of throwing stones and hiding the hand. This district is not going to move forward if we continue with the snark, the bitterness, and the fingerpointing.

Yes, mistakes were made in April, and I believe the people responsible have shown a fair amount of contrition. Now, can we move on?

In fact, several of the trustees who were involved in the process have actually moved on -- in case you have not noticed. In fact, we have three new members on the board. THREE. Two of them are not educators by profession -- Tim Chaney and Tom Jennings. Alana Myles, the third one, ended her career as a teacher but began in the insurance industry, which means she has experience in areas other than education. 

Debra Gramesbacher is not a teacher. Jon Hill, a former school superintendent, is now a personnel analyst for the Monterey County Health Department. Diane Creasey is a nurse.

You may want to quibble with this, but we now have a board that is NOT dominated by people whose SOLE experience is in education -- as the email claims.

And they are decent people. I don't have an I.Q. measuring stick, but they seem pretty smart people to me. And most importantly, they all seem genuinely concerned about our schools and our children. About education.

Now, can we all give them a break and support them and hope we all get it right this time? I'm pretty confident the board as an institution got so badly burnt last time the members who lived to tell are threading extremely carefully this time.

Enough with the snark, people. Let's give some constructive criticism. How about that?

For starters, attend those community meetings next week. You can find the schedule here and here.

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