The very large school system I work for has something in common with the Minneapolis school district. We’re both in the market for a new superintendent. Like our school board, they will soon hire a consulting firm to conduct a "nationwide search" and from the sound of it, Minneapolis is looking for many of the same qualities in it’s new educational leader. Except that neither system is really looking for an "educational leader". We’re both looking for a politician that speaks fluent educationalese. They must be able to juggle the interests of all the different subgroups including the county board of supervisors (who "transfer" most of our cash), parents, teacher’s unions, state and federal politicians, and, if time allows, the kids. It also helps if they look good on TV and can deliver a speech.
Nobody is likely to ask me but what I’d like to see in a new superintendent is someone who’s actually taught a full class schedule in the past ten years, and had been a teacher longer than they had been an administrator. (It would be nice if they had taught at two different levels.) They would need the superhuman strength to resist instructional fads and miracle cures, especially where technology is concerned. The new boss would recognize that a strong, ongoing, integrated staff development program is an essential part of quality teaching, not a luxury. And finally, my candidate would have no fear when it comes to shaking up the system and instituting major structural changes, not because they’re flashy and fashionable but because they’re sorely needed.
Even if my candidate existed, I doubt our board would hire him or her. But it’s my web log – I can dream.