Friday, July 8, 2011

Superintendent Search - A Blogging Brainstorm

I had a good conversation with Marshall Orson today. We were discussing the Brad Bryant idea. We agreed that at its core, this is a good idea – we need another interim. We need a person who can spend the next year or two before we vote in a new board and they get settled, righting this ship and then turning it around, poised for a new journey. This person needs to have a "presence" that is stronger than the board. This person needs to have the experience required to lead a system (education or otherwise) from havoc into structure. This person needs to have ethical and political clout and the respect and trust of the people. This person needs to clearly see the path we must take and be unafraid to walk it.

The board is feeding us a fantasy when they tell us they can hire a permanent superintendent by October 31. The truth is – there is no one on the docket. The search firm sent over 50 qualified candidates to the board months ago. They whittled the list to three finalists – then when they zeroed in on one and the other two dropped out, “someone” leaked the privileged executive session info on the contract negotiations, basically violating the trust with the candidate (Lilly Cox) causing her to decide to drop out as well. So they went to another highly qualified candidate (Robert Duron) from the list and when the vote was close on him, again, “someone” leaked his name, their opinion of him (negative) and began a public smear campaign designed to derail negotiations with him before they ever even took a vote. (A vote would be public, so we would have known.) Now — it’s only a few weeks from the start of school and no one will apply – as well as they might not apply as the reputation of our board as leakers and manipulators will prevent them from considering us.

So – really, what to do? Ramona Tyson emphatically says she does not want the job and will only (reluctantly) stay for three months. We need a strong two year plan. We need someone who can focus on improving the education we are providing to children while weathering the storm of the criminal trials of our former superintendent and COO as well as a $100 million civil trial with Heery/Mitchell.  We need a person who can clear the way for a long-term superintendent to be chosen by the next board – the one we will elect when they all have to run for newly drawn seats in November of 2012.

Brad Bryant could do it, IMO. But what if Brad doesn't get the vote or if he turns it down? We also found ourselves tossing out names like Charles B. Knapp, former president of UGA,  Betty Siegel, former president of Kennesaw State or Thurbert Baker, former GA Attorney General, Michael Thurmond, former GA Labor Commissioner or Carl V. Patton, President Emeritus of Georgia State.

Is there anyone else on the horizon? Come on out to the brainstorm, bloggers! Add your ideas and suggestions in the comments.

After you do that, make sure you send the board an email demanding action on the superintendent search.  They are in a stalemate, unable to move forward with no new candidates on the horizon.  They need to follow the lead of Atlanta Public Schools and find a high caliber leader to put in place for at least the next year or two who will work to make things right for the children of DeKalb.

CLICK HERE to Email the entire DCSS Board of Education


Anonymous said...

I absolutely do not want to see Brad Bryant in this position. He is a politician through and through. Though, I believe your suggestions of retired educators is a promising one. I know there are many in the Atlanta area.

Open+Transparent said...

Bil Chace, former Emory University president, lives in Decatur.

Gayle said...

I think in the end the DCSS BOE will have to be made to accept a superintendent who will clean up DCSS much like APS. It does not look like this DCSS BOE has the will or inclination to do this. They have lost their focus on students. Too many like things "just the way they are."

pscexb said...

I made a suggestion a while back that mirrors what is being suggested now. We need a 'corrective' superintendent, whose job would be to correct the overall structure of the school system and right our instructional ship. I agree, there are many retired educators in the area that could do a good job at this. The question would be whether the Board would give the the autonomy to do so.

We should be wary about the power given to a superintendent. Then State Senator Kasim Reed was instrumental in changing legislation that gave former APS superintendent Beverly Hall more authority.

Cerebration said...

How ironic! Glad to have you back PSC! I know - you were the original advocate for a corrective superintendent!

Dekalbparent said...

Sadly, I agree with @atl. The APS board WANTS to clean house, to get quick distance from the cheating bombshell.

The DCSS board is not like the APS board - most of them are either too thoroughly entwined with DCSS admin and F&F or they are mired in past battles and outdated concepts of what the schools are like. They either don't want anyone to change things or they don't think it's necessary.

I still don't know if Bryant would clean house and get to a fresh start. He would not have a mandate from the entire BOE. Does he have friends here, and would hesitate to go whole hog.

Actually, the fact that he has higher ambitions is a plus in my book, because he would not want to stick around for a career, and would not have the need to cultivate allies.

I still like the idea of getting a retired university head to take it for the interim.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone give a pass to this APS board? This board essentially gave Beveraly Hall a pass to do whatever she wanted and in the very beginnings of the cheating scandal backed Ms. Hall 100%.

FieldsGrove said...

Whatever happened to Dr. Duron? Is he completely out of the picture, or do we have any chance of seeing him in the DCSS superintendent's office? He always was an ideal choice in my opinion.

I'd still prefer to have an outsider with experience, and I don't believe that Bryant fits the bill. Betty Siegel is a charming woman and an excellent public speaker. Is she up to the challenge of cleaning house in the DCSS central office?

Dekalbparent said...

@dadfirst - I don't know if you were referring to my comment, but I certainly was not giving the APS board a pass - I was observing that they have a BIG FAT reason to want a super to clean house, while the DCSS board does not.

Dekalbparent said...

My impression is that Betty Siegel is a tough cookie.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb has some excellent principals and teachers. I do believe a new Supt. needs a strong Instructional focus and a small central office and the right person will see that on his or her own.
No we don't need any more interium supts. We have been without a long term Supt. for too long. Our school folk need a morale boost that can only come with a Supt. with strong academic experience in the real world of K-13. College Presidents can't begin to identify with the strong discipline that needs to be restored in our schoools not can they identify with a system that is mainly free and reduced lunch.
Atlanta has two excellent candidates now that they have given Dr. Davis a one year contract...And let's not be to early to give him all of the alcolades before they are eraned. I wish him and especially Atlanta the very best.
Where is Ida Love, she surely can't be bossed around and what about . Samuel King, State Supt.of the year, where all schools in Rockdale have made AYP for the last 6 years and only after he got there. Margaret Owens certainly know instruction and has never been political.
Yet, I pray and therefore must believe we will have a Supt. by Oct. 1, who will hopefully bring a couple of people with her/him and take the realm and lead us toward success in and only if we are ALL willing to let him/her do the job without interference.

Stnuocca said...

“One of the things that more advantaged students typically bring to school is a lifetime of background knowledge…”

Right, and as I understand “the Mathew effect,” fluent readers, who amass new knowledge through reading, pull further and further ahead of the kids left behind practicing ’strategies.’

Comment by Catherine Johnson — July 17, 2009 @ 8:58 am

LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

Whoa everybody, the obvious choice is right in front of us. The board is so full of awesome that they will vote this person in so fast it will make your head swim. In fact, that Belcher guy can't even muck this one up, though he may try.

Dr. Beverly Hall is available, has experience and boy can she raise some test scores, plus she meets the other "right" criteria. We should pounce on her fast before she gets away, like to prison or something.

Anonymous said...

Judas, made me laugh out loud!

Those who are in favor of Bryant, there is a Facebook page on which you can show your support. OK, yeah--it's Facebook. But it is a medium to show that there are more than a handful of bloggers who support his candidacy.

Anon said...

With all due respect, for those who weren't around when Brad Bryant was on the Board of Education for 12 years, you may not understand just how part of the inside he was.

First, his family's business was developing subdivisions in S. DeKalb, including one where many current and former DCSS employees live or lived. Dr. Lewis was a customer.

Second, he was friends with Francis Edwards and protected/defended her children as people complained about their upward mobility.

Third, he was wishy washy. Telling constituents he would do one thing, generally the stronger stand, and then do another.

Finally, he brought Johnny Brown to DeKalb, but then failed to support him as he became more controversial.

His years on the State Board and working for the State DOE have given him the 10,000 feet above perspective that things are bad in DeKalb. However, on the ground, there is no evidence that he can let go the long time employees and friends and family that were both so much a part of his life for over a decade and a part of his business at one time.

fedupindcss said...

Anon is right on. Also, Brad was just as bad as any other board member when he was there in terms of getting what he wanted for family. He had classes added to the Lakeside curriculum based on what his kids wanted to take. He also was right in the middle of the decision to make Henderson the middle school and Lakeside the high school, based not on capacity, physical plant, parking, etc. but on some nebulous political garbage about "history" and "tradition." It was a terrible mistake and probably cost the school system way more money than necessary in renovation and expansion.

If the board is swayed by a Facebook page promoting Brad, rather than using actual common sense, interviews, resumes, and a decent search firm, than that says it all. They are hopeless.

Cerebration said...

Fedup, as far as I'm aware, they have no one else they are interviewing. On top of that, they have behaved so badly that anyone worth having certainly wouldn't apply out of fear of the board's shenanigans.

Stalemate. That's where we are. Who would have dreamed we'd be in this mess at this juncture? All the other school systems in metro Atlanta have been able to find a leader and move forward.

Georgia Gal said...

Excellent suggestion. In spite of the expense I would have the interim period be for 3 years and invite finalists to visit the school system for 2 weeks then write a report explaining exactly what he or she would do for a turnamound. I would also include some students, especially some from failing schools to review the applications.

Joseph Hunt said...

Perhaps, if Beverly Hall is convicted of whatever crime they're cooking up, her alternative sentence could be to serve as DCSS superintendent.

Or, perhaps the Board is waiting for Crawford Lewis to be acquitted. Then they'll rehire him.

Re Brad Bryant: The bowtie is dorky. It got Ralph Simpson in trouble, too.

DCSS Teacher said...

We don't need another interim superintendent. We need a permanent person whose decisions won't be subverted by "Well, it's only temporary; let's wait for the REAL superintendent!" The person who's in charge of Curriculum and Instruction is critically important: more, even, than the superintendent. We teachers need to feel that there's someone running the, hello, TEACHING part of this school system! Someone who teachers perceive as experienced in the classroom; knowledgable about the curriculum and how to best implement it; and willing to support us in enforcing consistent discipline.

Whoever takes over this mess needs a strong vision, AND s/he needs to be from outside the system. After everything's that happened, how could anyone consider another insider?

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry to say Teacher, we can say all day long that we need a strong, permanent super - which we do! - however, at the current juncture - there are NO candidates - the board has sabotaged them all and there are no more in the queue.

We really have no choice but to hire another interim... at least for the next couple of years. Let's work on replacing this board and hoping for a professional board to be seated in 2012 who will then choose a long-term super. By then, let's hope all of the trials are over as well.


Anon76 said...

Bryant is tied, hook, line, & sinker to Fran Millar. Bowen is in on it and has been for weeks ... long prior to Millar's "surprise" announcement at the meeting last week. It's business as usual in DeKalb. Wait and see what deals are made after Bryant takes office. It will be much easier after he brings in his own crew. Isn't that how it's done?

A few years from now maybe someone will see him for the politician that he is and will figure out why Millar wants him in that office so badly. The students have nothing to do with it. Millar has made a career of talking a good game. Too bad the board is getting pressured into making a decision that will continue leading DCSS down the road towards investigations of employees' ethics and outsiders' influences.

Anon said...

I understand that we could still get dr. duron... just need the 5 votes.....