Timothy Hacsi, an assistant professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, wrote an timely op-ed on districts and their leadership. Entitled, "Stop Waiting for a Savior," I think this is its most cogent point:
The problem is all the time we spend talking about how the last leader failed, how the current leader is struggling, how the next leader must succeed.
It's a good one. I would have to say there is a point to reflecting on how a former leader did well/did poorly because there are, as we have seen, people who like to write revisionist history. It is not in anyone's interests, least of all a school district, to have its history mangled and manipulated.
It is not clear what a superintendent would have to do to be universally seen as successful by teachers, parents, politicians, businessmen and taxpayers.
On this point I can say this (and have said to many people) - if Dr. Goodloe-Johnson had been succeeding by any measure, she certainly could have shut me up. I didn't like her leadership style, her planning or how she managed the district. But if the district had been running well, scores were going up across the board (at any rate), and her Strategic Plan had major support, well, what could I have said? I could have argued that I personally didn't like what she was doing but if she was succeeding at the things she said she would accomplish, then I would have to have accepted that. (But she didn't.)
He goes on:
Until the headlines and our attention focus on what the research shows can directly improve school performance — additional money, used wisely; longer school days; better-paid and better-prepared teachers; year-round schooling — instead of the latest savior/soon-to-be-failure, we, like Ms. Black and Mr. Bloomberg, are missing the point.
And there's a familiar name in his piece - Raj Manhas.
Thank you to a reader who alerted me to this story.