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Monday, February 27, 2012

What Do YOU Want from the Next Superintendent?

The ad is out there. People will soon be responding. Then the committees will winnow the list of applicants to a set of semi-finalists and finalists. Seattle Public Schools will have a new superintendent.

What are you looking for in a new Superintendent?

Administrative skills - someone who will get the house in order
Management skills - someone who will motivate the school staff and the JSCEE staff
Fundraising skills - someone who can shake money out of Olympia, the Alliance, local businesses, and national foundations
Communication skills - someone who will listen to the community and respond

Perhaps it isn't skills. Perhaps you would like to see the District led by someone with a certain perspective.

Pragmatism - someone who will put energy behind what works instead of an ideology
Vision - someone who has an ideal and will work to implement it
Centralized control - someone who will enforce District mandates
De-centralized control - someone who will eliminate District mandates

Let's talk about it. What do you want from the new Superintendent?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Someone that recognizes and prioritizes strong academics.

parent

TechyMom said...

All 4 skills and pragmatism. I tend to lean towards de-centralized control, but honestly, if the district mandates were pragmatic, I'd be ok with enforcing them.

mirmac1 said...

Hmmm, guess Enfield does not have a monopoly on giving good PR.

FWPS Asst Supt does well in Highline Supt. search public form

mirmac1 said...

"The only one of three Highline schools superintendent finalists to attract television coverage at her public forum, Dr. Susan Enfield said she is eager to work in the district.
Enfield, Seattle’s interim superintendent, told forum participants Friday night, Feb. 24 that while she wants to put roots down in the Northwest with her husband, she wants to go to a smaller district than Seattle. She noted that she and her husband have been living in separate cities.
Enfield said Highline is a district that has a strong base so doesn’t need a “turnaround.
“It just needs to go from good to great,” she declared.
The Highline district is “further down the pike” than many districts in preparing students for life beyond high school, she noted.
Enfield said Highline has great people who are eager to build excellent schools.
Asked if she would “stick around” if hired by Highline, Enfield answered she is looking to be a superintendent for at least 5 to 10 years.
“I want to be part of a community,” Enfield declared. “I want to Susan who lives here, not just the superintendent.”
Enfield said she would be the “chief cheerleader” in building the district’s image. She later amended that to say “ambassador” might be a better word."

mirmac1 said...

Enfield acts like White Center, not Bellevue, is just what she's looking for...

dw said...

I think someone else posted this link on a different thread, but it's worth posting again.

This is what I'd like to see in Seattle. The new superintendent in Atlanta is a "breath of fresh air". Really worth reading.

Couple interesting notes:
- He does not come from an educator background.
- He has yet to prove that he can navigate the politics of managing an urban school district.

I seriously hope he has a successful run there, for the kids, for the city and for the sake of public schools in this country.

dw said...

Enfield acts like White Center, not Bellevue, is just what she's looking for...

Uh, I would not equate Highline SD with White Center. Sure, there are areas of poverty within Highline, just like SPS, but it also encompasses Shorewood, Seahurst and Normandy Park. It's a diverse district.

Of course your point about neither SPS nor Highline being Bellevue is spot on, and it's certainly possible that she is using the interest by multiple school districts to leverage a better offer from Bellevue. We'll just have to wait and see how that unfolds.

mirmac1 said...

As someone who lives near White Center, grew up at the city limits in fact, I have tremendous regard for WC, North Highline neighborhood. For as long as I can remember, it has been a great place for hard-working immigrants to get their start. They did a GREAT job rebuilding schools. I really can't picture Enfield waxing ecstatic over my 'hood.

Anonymous said...

I want a superintendent who will choose effective textbooks. Math is a prime example of what could be improved. The Everyday and Discovering textbooks that were adopted (against the advice of math experts and many parents) have not increased student achievement in math. When schools have been able to use other curricula (like Mercer Middle School on Beacon Hill) they have shown improvement.

We have too many students testing into remedial math in college. They think the failure is their fault but they are wrong.

I would like to see a superintendent make better choices and introduce other curricula. We have waited far too long for this.
S parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link on the new Atlanta Superintendent.

According to the article, he is an engineer by training, graduated high school at 16, and then had an engineering degree at the age of 20.

It's unlikely that an engineer would support the continued use of SPS's constructivist math and reading programs.

Going back to the first comment, will the search committee look for Someone that recognizes and prioritizes strong academics?

In order to make improvements, you have to first see the flaws.

-siding with S parent

David said...

I'd like the superintendent to run a lean, efficient bureaucracy that minimizes administrative costs and maximizes funds going to the classroom. In Charlie's language, that mostly would be a pragmatic administrator.

I'd also strongly prefer someone local, someone who already knows and lives in Seattle. And, if we get someone local, I see no need to offer a three year contract, as the executive has not moved a family and is taking little risk.

Saw said...

http://www.b-townblog.com/2012/02/25/susan-enfield-eschews-seattle-and-thinks-highline-is-going-from-good-to-great/

suep. said...

Did S. Enfield really refer to herself in the third person? It sounds like the job, for her, is all about what's best for Susan -- not what's best for the kids of Highline. And if she is so adamant about staying in one place for a while, why does she keep quitting her jobs and moving from place to place? She is quitting from Seattle, she quit Portland. Evergreen/Vancouver laid her off, so that's a little different. But her resume belies any claim she is making about wanting to stay in one place for a while.

Okay, enough on the past. Onto the future.

I second the call for someone local, someone who knows and respects our town and schools and truly wants to stick around and see things through -- someone who is committed to our community. Someone with sense and integrity and no outside agenda.

I wonder if any of the candidates for those other districts might be a good fit here?

Jan said...

I agree with David -- we need a pragmatic administrator -- someone concerned more with finding what works than with chasing the newest fads, making friends with the astroturfs and their rich friends, etc. But I want two more things:
First, reading about the guy in Atlanta -- I would also love to get someone who inspires loyalty, enthusiam, and effort from the teaching staff that has been so beaten down by the past administrations and the current ed reform push. I want someone who will grant some autonomy, recognize and honor the expertise of outstanding teachers, and figure out how to provide support and mentoring within the teaching community. Being the supe is not an easy job -- but it shouldn't be as hard as it has been made by folks pushing an agenda, being duplictous (at best) about their motives and the end results of their actions, etc. We don't have a lot of dollars to give teachers right now -- but we can give them respect, freedom to do their best teaching, and internal support for their work without spending a fortune. Right now -- it's like having a stable of race horses, and feeding them Cap'n Crunch and Ho Hos -- and refusing to give them any exercise -- and then wondering why they don't race as well as they should.

Second -- I want someone who can clean out the deadwood in the "teaching and learning" departments -- the one area that Dr. Enfield has been so blind to. I want someone who can pick, and figure out how to mentor and grow better principals (and exec directors, if we are going to have them), someone who will reorganize and "fix" the disaster that Special Ed has become under MGJ and Dr. E., and someone willing to look at the many curriculum/materials disasters that have bedevilled us for too long.

PAST said...

Highline issues a press release saying Enfield is next sup pending references checks. Wonder if anyone will bother asking Evergreen to explain her departure?

Maureen said...

I second the call for someone local, someone who knows and respects our town and schools and truly wants to stick around and see things through -- someone who is committed to our community. Someone with sense and integrity and no outside agenda.


I wish I could have stated this as eloquently as suep. Or, barring that, thought of jan's race horse analogy! :)

KG said...

Someone that will not lie about the budget,

Wanted: super Super said...

I think we need
1) a big picture person who can take in all the factions and needs of Seattle students, parents , teachers and pressure groups and ordinary citizens. This is critical. To empathize with the underclass and the wealthy, the union oriented teacher and the teachers who don't like the union. The citizens who pay but have no kids. And the students themselves.
Then they need solid management skills to deal with the bureaucracy ? An understanding of pedagogy and SPED and kids at both ends of the IQ bell curve.
Could be tough.
And, please, throw in a sense of humor if only to respond to some of the outrageousness on this blog!

Charlie Mas said...

I used to want a competent administrator, but I now see it is more important that the CFO and COO have that administrative competence.

I definitely want a great manager. By this, I mean someone who will inspire and motivate the staff. I believe that requires granting teacher the autonomy they need to do their best work. I think it also requires a clear Vision for the staff in the headquarters. Right now Teaching and Learning is doing a lot of things that they should not be doing while they are failing to do a lot of the work that they need to do.

I would definitely like to see a superintendent who is willing to do what it takes to address the opportunity gap. Done right, the whole community - staff, teachers, administrators, families, students, and citizens - should be rallied behind that effort. That's a Vision thing as well.