Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So, how's that superintendent search going?

Word on the street is that the board is finally being tight-lipped about the superintendent search as they continue to meet behind executive session doors and intensely debate the pros and cons of all of the viable candidates currently on the table. Were that true, it would not only be exciting, it would be a miracle. This board could never keep a candidate under their hat – even if that candidate fulfilled each of the qualifications the board now says they are looking for in a candidate. Those qualifications include being the superintendent of a large, urban school system with at least 50,000 students, a majority minority and a large number of students from poor households. Oh, and that superintendent must make “AYP”.

But guess what? There is such a candidate on the table. Well, at least he was on the table. Robert Duron is currently the superintendent of the San Antonio, Texas school district. The district is host to 55,000 students in an urban setting. The district is 92.6% economically disadvantaged and at nearly 90% Hispanic and 7.4% African-American, it is a majority minority. The school system had been what is referred to in Texas as “Academically Acceptable” but fell to  “Academically Unacceptable” from 2008-2010 due to a handful of students who dropped out of the system and were unable to be tracked. Even so, as you can tell by those older scores, the system made great strides in achievement from 2009 to 2010 – especially when compared to DeKalb – in spite of the label. Now, the newest test scores for 2010-2011 have been released and the district is once again “Academically Acceptable”. (That’s Texas lingo for passing AYP.)

But, Robert Duron was sabotaged by our board before his merits could even be discussed. This was not really that different from the way they sabotaged lead contender Lilly Cox by leaking details of her supposedly private contract negotiations. And then, although they did grant Brad Bryant a cursory interview after Fran Millar posed Brad's candidacy to the board, they have not yet had a public discussion, much less a vote on Brad.

What’s going on? Who exactly are they looking for?  Are they furiously discussing a brand new slate of candidates? Although I would like to hope that is the case, I have serious doubts. School is about to begin across the country and it is unlikely that any superintendent worth their salt would be embarking on a job search right now. I just don’t think there is a qualified candidate on the horizon and worse, I have come to believe that Tom Bowen is living a delusion in his belief that if he acts passively-aggressively enough, Ramona Tyson will acquiesce and agree to serve another couple of years – long enough to grant Tom political cover to run for some other office without the albatross of having dragged DeKalb’s accreditation into the dirt. However, I don’t think Ms. Tyson will do him this favor. She really does not want the job long term. She will call his bluff come October 1.   And then SACS will come calling October 31 asking for proof of fulfilling their requirements.  Will Tom then try to back Tyson into a corner, pinning SACS' action on her unwillingness to serve as the long-term superintendent?  Will he then try to "guilt trip" her into doing as he wants?  I would hope that is not Tom's plan, but I really have to wonder. I've never witnessed a "leader" so, well, consciously comatose.

What to do? What does the public do when there really is no discussion to disagree with? What do we do when there is no action to critique or applaud? We cry for help, but the wind from Atlanta seems to drown out our voices and the Governor is too far up the hill from us to see us clearly. We are a rudderless ship sailing helplessly in circles piloted by a moonstruck captain who won’t admit he’s lost and a prevailing wind that just won’t let up.


Check San Antonio's last year’s test scores by clicking here.

Check out this year’s test scores just released last week by clicking here.



FWIW, the board had better not be discussing candidates or superintendent plans outside of their meetings or they could wind up in the same hot water as Cobb's board.  It was discovered that four members of the board were communicating via email, creating a "virtual" quorum and violating the Open Meetings Act.



Anonymous said...

Fran Miller does not represent entire DeKalb County and should have no input except as an individual. The fact that he is acting a Republican fool in a supposeingly No-Partison situation is appaulding. Fran should be concentrating on getting more state funding for education. Evidently there are still leaks on the BOE if it is a fact, Brad Bryant was actually granted any kind of interview. What criteria does he even begin to meet. Yes, he was on the Dekalb Board for years and sold many administrators and aspiring administrators homes in The Southlands, including Bob Tucker and Crawford Lewis. Let Brad build some more houses and get back to being a real estate lawyer. Maybe he should start his campaign to run for State School Supt. early, while Barge is too busy trying to get us out of this "No Child Lett Behind mess". He is doing a great ob,so far.
We need a SCHOOL Supt. Accordinging to the criteria listed, Brad Bryant should have never be granted an interview.(WOW)
I don't know Dr. Duran, but I know the demographics of San Antonia and DeKalb are far from comparable. Also, Texas benchmarks are significantly different from Ga. In Texas the bar has been established and does not rise yearly like DeKalb's. However, I would like to see the gentleman face the public like the original 3candidates.Ofcourse the roasting would occur and that's not good for anyone).

Anonymous said...

Brad Bryant... NO.NO NO TO INFINITY!99999999999 Never!

Anonymous said...

The writers and bloggers of Dekalb County SchoolWatch are doing an excellent job in sharing information with the Dekalb community. Well let's move even further in the exposure. Let's take our concerns to the street and protest up and down Mountain Industrial, starting in front of the county office. Teachers are still being abused and mistreated.

Anon said...

TX standards are higher than GA.

Actually, the search firm hired to look for our replacement superintendent was to consider outside the box candidates. Bryant would be one such candidate.

No idea if he really interviewed, but each candidate still has to apply through the search firm and be background checked et.

Not a fan of Bryant either, but also don't want some loser candidate either. I am afraid we will end up with Bryant because there are board members who refuse to embrace the need for change.

Cerebration said...

Well, come November, the governor will step in and you can bet he will appoint Brad Bryant anyway. Hopefully, the school board won't try to hire some yahoo from parts unknown just to prevent that from happening.

Open+Transparent said...

The most important duty for the BOE Chair, Mr. Tom Bowen, at this time is to lead the board for the hiring a new superintendent. Other than the budget/finances, no other BOE task is close in importance.

Yet Bowen punts and fumbles, and has done so for over a year. He has no sense of urgency, and the leaks by board members are borderline criminal. The fact that Zepora "I'm Gonna Slug You" Roberts knows all the details on the search is Exhibit A
on how this board serves itself before the public.

Think about it: Hiring a new superintendent after a major scandal is the single most important action of his tenure as chair, and he can't handle it. Who's minding the store? Who can the the public trust?

The only positive about it is he won't be re-elected to the board. He's openly talked about running for aother office, and he can kiss that dream goodbye.

Anon said...

The Board met for 10 hours yesterday, I think based on the meeting notice for a continuation meeting this afternoon.

Perhaps they are getting closer, but I am unsure whether that is a good thing or not.

Ella Smith said...

I do feel Brad Bryant would fight for change in this school system. He knows the school system and knows the problems the school system faces. However, he is an outsider in the fact that he is an attorney, a business leader, and a GA School Superintendent.

I do believe he would make some needed cuts and fight for the improvement of test scores. He may also trim the county office of the bloat.

I am concerned because he does not have a degree in school administration. However, he is a business leader and an attorney and in this case I believe he can do the job with his past experiences.

I also do not know anything about the other guy being discussed and I would feel better to see someone from the outside who has some knowledge of the situation.

Fran Miller is a great guy. He is liked on both sides of the isle. He cares about the entire county, region and state.

Anon said...

Fran is not such a good guy and frankly, many wonder what his angle is here.

Bryant is/was good friends with Francis Edwards. Her children are some of the most overpaid/underqualified employees of the system. Will he get rid of them?

Next week, when bus issues arise that were preventable, will David Guillory be held accountable?

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

Fran may or may not be a good guy. I think it is wise to question Fran's angle - do we even know whether he thought of and called Brad or did Brad call him expressing interest in serving as superintendent? He would certainly get a big bump in pay and pretty retirement benefits if he could land this job. Just saying...

Brad may or may not be a nice person or "good guy" but he has no background in education. He is NOT an outsider by any stretch of the imagination as anon 9:02 points out. He did nothing as a local or state BOE member to raise DeKalb and Georgia academically. He was not responsive to his constituents as the District 4 state BOE member and in fact, he went along with Kathy Cox on this whole math debacle despite teacher and parent input about their concerns. As our state BOE rep, he turned a blind eye to what was happening in DeKalb these last several years and continued to be "blind" as the interim state school superintendent when it came to concerns about DCSS. Why in the world would we want him?

Anon said...

Word on the street is that Bryant is pretty desperate for this job. Perhaps he called Millar.

It will be disappointing if this is who we end up with.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone thought about Joe Reed for the superintendent's job? He doesn't mind stepping on toes, and he surely would shake things up in the County office. He has the education and experience that everyone thinks is essential. Why not?

Cerebration said...

Anyone interested in the job needs to apply. If you have an idea, please encourage that person to submit an application with Ray and Associates.

I think both Fran and Brad have the best interests of DeKalb schools at heart. Brad may not be an outsider and may not be a true "educator", but he could serve as a turnaround interim.

That said, Joe Reed wouldn't be half bad either. He's got the moxy - the experience and has been an educator long term....

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that a white male would be named to lead the system. Might that I be proven wrong.

Again, I hope I am proven wrong, but who is this woman appointed to lead Cross Keys? I have heard the most negative comments about her. It is one thing for my tax dollars to go to support the mess at an Avondale. My friends in Avondale Estates were absolutely terrified of that school. It is quite another for my tax dollars to be used to bring that mess from down there up to Cross Keys. The poor children. So many of them want to succeed in our society. But they have no one to advocate for them in a system that is being run like a mob.

Anonymous said...

Demographics be damned. The residents of DeKalb county just need someone who can run a school system, manage 10,000 employees and be responsible hundreds of millions of tax dollars. The BOE represents the community the superintendent manages the resources and produces results.

Anon said...

I am not convinced that Bryant can make the hard choices. I wish that he could.

He was quoted as saying his first job would be to build a relationship with the board. For a turnaround interim, I am not sure that was the right answer.

Bryant may only have his own retirement/pension interests at heart.

teacher said...

@ Anon 8:14, if that is true, than Bryant isn't the right person. We need someone who puts the children first and not the adults already in place. Very scary.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:12--you're kidding, right?

Joe Reed may appear to make "tough choices," but he does not broach consensus, is dismissive of any input from anyone (even when he is proven absolutely wrong), and seems to revel in patronizing everyone around him, staff, students and parents.

And he is not an outsider. He got his position at Lakeside by virtue of his connections to Womack and Lewis, without even interviewing with the school council (so he was willing to see rules suspended to get his job). He has been around forever, and is probably as beholden to CO people as anyone else who has spent his entire career in DCSS.

We need someone professional, with an understanding of education and politics, who understands that they may have the worst job in America, and is okay with that.

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

Teacher, Anon 8:14 is right. This is the quote from Brad Bryant on WABE when asked about the superintendent position: "I think the first priority for me would be to establish those healthy relationships with the current members of the Dekalb board to give them the information they need to help set that policy and that vision for the district."

Here's the link to read the whole article: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wabe/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=1826629.

If he is in an "exceedingly enjoyable position" at the GA DOE as he states in this article, why would he leave....salary and benefits for a bigger retirement maybe?

Cere, I'm usually with you but not on this one. If he's brought in as an interim, he'll ultimately become the permanent one - the old status quo thing...and we'll be stuck with an insider who has a track record of failing to raise achievement in DCSS and GA in past positions. My vote is no to interim, no to permament super on this one but I fear it's coming maybe sooner than we think.

Sagamore 7 said...

Anon 10:14.
I don't know what your beef with Joe Reed currently is, but thank your lucky stars he accepted the job at Lakeside and took over the reigns from the Lewis appointed Ms. Mouton. (SP?)
Do you want to start a conversation about her?
I don't think so!
Mr. Reed came into a very difficult situation and has done superbly. He is currently dealing with a massive renovation and still doesn't complain at ALL!
I'm not sure if he could change the culture within DCSS but I do know that he is equitable and doesn't put up with any CRAP!
I know for a fact that he was asked for Lakeside to participate in a mentoring program for young men and his answer was, "Only if it is open to ALL young men and not just the disadvantaged or minorities."
That is how he works. Programs designed for a few do not fit his educational strategy. If a program is being introduced to his student population then it is for the entire student population.
I like his inclusive attitude and equitable treatment of ALL of his students. He is not a person that is open to excuses. He has high expectations for all of his students and holds them and their parents accountable!
I like that in him and I like that in a superintendent!
I am not advocating for Mr. Reed as our next superintendent, I'm just letting you know my feelings about him.

Now, do you have anyone in mind for superintendent? Do you have a possible solution to our leadership dilemma?


Cerebration said...

FWIW, we did have a big brainstorming session on ideas for a turnaround superintendent (back when we still had a modicum of hope). Sadly, this whole topic is getting to be depressing drudgery - personally I think our board has utterly failed, and worse, there is no powerful oversight willing to step in and save us from our inept board. Fran MIllar tried and has been ignored. We have passed through Purgatory and are now in Hell.

In case anyone's interested in our old discussion on the subject --

Superintendent Search - A Blogging Brainstorm

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:56--different Anon here: my concern with Mr. Reed differs from the other Anon. I don't care about his hard-assery, as it were. My bigger concern is that he is regularly out asking for money from parent and student groups for the Valhalla Project, which is a clear violation of his professional certification. The reason for this prohibition on fundraising is that it puts undue pressure on parents and students to donate, and indeed several groups have done so because they feared it would negatively impact their teacher sponsors. Since one of the biggest issues we have with DCSS administrators and BOE members is their complete inability to follow the rules of anything, we hardly need someone else running the place who cannot.

Speaking of Lakeside, heard they will have over 1900 kids there this year. Sucks, huh?

teacher said...

To me know one who is any good is going to be available right now. The board blew it. I don't trust anyone that they hire at this point, as I don't trust the board. They haven't shown me that their hearts are for the kids and providing them with a superior education. As with many parents, I am just fed up and wish that there was a way to get rid of the board, the administration, and start all over again. I fear that there will be no more changes or not enough changes and the education of our children will continue to slide.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if anyone has a transcript of Tyson's address to all employees on Friday but she said that there will be a new superintendent soon. I don't know quite what to make of this.

Cerebration said...

I guess that depends on your definition of "soon"...

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

All eyes should be on the Board meeting tonight. They will give a report on how great things are on the first day. It may not match what bloggers are experiencing though! Send in your stories.

Maybe they will sneak in a superintendent announcement.... they have to give a 2 week public notice before voting if they have a prospect. Can you say Brad Bryant? Still hoping for Duron....

Anonymous said...

It's probably true that Joe Reed is one of the best administrators leading a school in DeKalb County. The problem is, that's not saying much. He is a ridiculously defensive, untalented guy with zero vision who is easily intimidated by students and teachers who try to have reasonable discussions with him. It's like he's still in high school. Moreover, he plays favorites and breaks the rules with impunity, probably because he knows he will be backed up by the board members and former board members who inserted him into the principal's office. Just SOP in DeKalb.

Now Brad? A nice, conciliatory guy. Hard, hard worker. Very proud of Lakeside. But what we need is an Errol Davis who will tell the truth, protect the children over the adults and see DCSS for what it is. Brad was always willing to work with parents when he was board chair. He just couldn't get anything accomplished because he wanted everyone to see everyone else's perspective. When problems are minor, that's a great way to be. Foster understanding and all that. But we are WAY past the Kumbayah point. If you read Lynn Deutch's post on the GetSchooled Blog, she pretty much sums up the seriousness of the situation. It's time for a competent, courageous leader to stand up for the oppressed (children who are being shortchanged, furloughed teachers) and kick the do-nothings to the curb. That is not Brad's style.

pscexb said...

I attended Stan Watson's monthly meeting this past Saturday and was surprised to see Ms. Tyson there. She spoke for about 5 minutes (I don't have my notes but can share them if there is interest) primarily asking for community involvement and support for the schools.

She was adamant that September 30th will be her last day as interim superintendent. She indicated she'd welcome being the '2nd chair' in helping the new superintendent get up to speed quickly on the school system. There is a planned 'Education Meeting' in October during these monthly meetings and she mentioned she does not expect to be on the agenda.

Anonymous said...

Sagamore 7, I find it amusing that you think Joe Reed is a great guy for demanding equitable treatment because he wouldn't allow a mentoring program to focus on disadvantaged minorities - it had to include all the young men. Yet it was okay to exclude ALL the young women in the school, as long as the boys from wealthy homes were included. You have a funny way of defining equitable treatment.