wasting bandwidth since 1999

Looking For A Leader Continues

A while back I posted a couple of rants about the search for a new superintendent by the overly large school system I work for and mentioned that the school board probably wouldn’t want my opinion on the matter. Well, it turns out they do want to hear from me on the subject! Sort of. The expensive headhunter firm hired by the board is holding a meeting this week to allow all us employees to chip in our two cents worth. Unfortunately, they’ll have to miss my insights since I’m teaching that evening.

Oddly enough, however, there may not be much left to say. The email announcing this wonderful opportunity includes a link to the "draft" profile for the new superintendent – seven printed pages! No, I’m not going to link to it. (I get in enough trouble already without some school board member finding my rants in Google.) But there are a few choice qualifications I’d like to share from the "draft".

  • experience as a classroom teacher — desirable but not required (they’re going to lead a school system with no experience as a teacher?)
  • a terminal degree in an education-related field — preferred but not required (those terminal degrees can be painful :-)
  • demonstrate the ability to create a climate for instructional innovation (innovation comes as an afterthought to several mentions of improving test scores)
  • demonstrate instructional leadership in providing staff development and support for staff members (any sort of support in this area would be a big improvement)
  • demonstrate enthusiasm for technology and understand and support its timely infusion into instructional programs (keep the enthusiasm – a basic understanding would be a good start)

If you’d like to apply for the job, write me and I’ll put you in touch with the headhunters.


  1. aschoolyardblogger

    I wonder if the no classroom experience one might be ok. If the person was a listener and problem solver he or she might be better off coming from a place of no previous understanding, prejudice or favorite method. I even think no degree at all could work.

  2. chett

    I agree with School Yard.

    Teaching experience is not essential for a superintendent. Nice, but not essential. Can the person lead? A great example of this was John Stanford, who was a former Army general, who came to the Seattle Public schools, and really turned things around.

    Seattle Times has a nice tribute online.

  3. Tim

    I can see your point but I still believe that a good leader shares some experiences with the people they’re leading. I also have the idealistic, and admittedly naive, hope that the person the board hires will be an actual instructional leader.

    The realistic side of my head knows that whoever they choose will be a politician, selected to fit a compromise among the various groups on the board and in the community.

    I’ll return to fantasyland now. :-)

  4. aschoolyardblogger

    I have noticed that even when a board chooses someone with a vision over the politican, it somehow doesn’t take very long before the vision is squashed. I would be thrilled if you applied for the job. I would even write a letter of recommendation – and really mean it.

  5. Tim

    You’re right. People with vision often get slowed down by reality but at least they put the ideas out there for people to consider. I appreciate the recommendation but I’m not nearly qualified for the superintendents job – for one thing I don’t have a high tolerence for crap. I’d like to think that I’m helping to make some change happen in our system by working from the inside.

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