We now have less than twelve hours left before the online Jeffco Schools Budget Survey window closes. If you have not filled it out, please take five minutes and do it now! If you have filled it out, then ask a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker, etc., to please fill it out. The URL is:
This is one of our few chances where the WNW+Miller Board cannot easily ignore what we say and think.
The Superintendent Search
We have been checking on the JeffCo District Website for the next meeting. Nothing had appeared, so one of our readers contacted the District. It turns out that the BoardDocs meeting postings are made only about one week before the meeting and sometime less. Right now the next scheduled Board meeting on Tuesday February 18th at 5:30. It is currently an open meeting, so the public can attend. This Special meeting is to review and interview the two search firms who are the finalists for the Superintendent Search RFP.
WNW+Miller has been really focused on “non-traditional” candidates. This can be translated as someone who has little to no formal training and/or experience in public school teaching or administration, but is a ‘great motivator’ or ‘team leader’.
Non-traditional superintendents have come from the military, business, religious organizations, and politics. The results over the last twenty years is decidedly mixed. Despite frequently having been a standout in their original field, often times these non-traditional “supers” have a difficult time in making the transition. There seem to be two main areas that give them trouble: knowledge of what teaching actually entails, and experience at handling local political interference, often from the very people who hired them.
Knowing what teaching is really all about is very important. Robert Peterkin, professor emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education summed it up well in the Scholastic article “No Experience Needed,” when he said, “What it doesn’t do is put the most important thing at the forefront: instructional improvement.” He went on to say, “It’s dangerous for the CEO of a school system to have no knowledge of teaching and learning.”
In terms of handling local politics, former business people and even politicians are often stunned by how much say Board members, local business and other interest groups, not to mention parents want to have. CEOs of medium to large size companies generally are able to control their Boards. Much of the maneuvering a major CEO has to do involves who to put on the Board, and who to ease off it. It also helps the CEO that Board members frequently live in other states, often sit on multiple Boards, and so cannot devote a lot of time to micro-managing the CEO. This is not the case for a school Superintendent! Even experienced politicians turned Superintendents have had severe problems with local board and community interference. We anticipate that the WNW+Miller Board will be at the extreme end of this.
The best candidate should not be judged primarily on whether the person comes from a business background or a teaching background. It is the combination of skills and experience the person has and their ability to cope with the local political conditions, both inside and outside the District that should be examined and measured.
We need someone who can stand up to the Board, understands teaching at a deep level, be able to work with the teachers, and focus the District staff. What we do not need is a puppet who parrots the latest whims and fancies of the WNW+Miller board.