Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CMS leadership: Stability and change

Update at 5:40 p.m.: Tahira Stalberte of the public information office says she just found out she got incorrect information last night when she told me there were no raises. Scott McCully, who oversees student placement, got additional duties and a raise, she said. She said she would find out how much tomorrow.

Last night the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board gave a dozen top staffers contracts that run through June 2013,  with only Kaye McGarry dissenting.  Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh told the board the contracts,  which will run about a year past the arrival of a yet-to-be named superintendent,  will help keep CMS on track through a time of change.  When a superintendent leaves,  he said,  other districts often come sniffing around the most talented staff,  hoping the uncertainty about their future makes them ripe for hiring.

The new or renewed contracts don't bring any pay hikes, according to public information staff who checked.

And the contracts don't mean the new superintendent can't bring in his or her own aides.  As Hattabaugh noted,  his own former job as chief operating officer is unfilled,  as is the chief accountability officer's job vacated when Robert Avossa because superintendent in Fulton County, Ga.  And new leaders have a way of shuffling staff and creating new titles.

The board also approved PROACT Search, an education search firm headquartered in Illinois, to help find the next top dog. Read the contract and work plan here.

Meanwhile, the board also heard a report on CMS efforts to build a leadership pipeline that covers everything from preparing teachers to move into school administration to identifying principals who would be strong contenders for top posts in the district.  "I believe we are about a year away from one of the strongest principal groups in this nation,"  Chief Academic Officer Ann Clark told the board.

Several board members said developing talent is one of the most important things the district can do to ensure strong,  ongoing success for schools.  Certainly I've seen the pattern that's known throughout the country:  A visionary principal creates a "beat the odds" school,  gets promoted,  and the new principal can't sustain the gains.


Anonymous said...

If you've ever wondered how an entrenched bureaucracy becomes entrenched...

...last night the board gave them their shovels.

Anonymous said...

One way to ensure ongoing success for schools is to make sure that administrators (Principals and Assistant Principals) begin their careers in the classroom and have a history of sustained achievement (at least five years) BEFORE letting them enter the administrator pipeline. This is the best preparation possible.

Vision for a school and for the school system must be based on experience gained in the classroom, learning first hand what works and what doesn't work. It then takes a brave individual who aspires to impact more than one classroom by choosing to put their experience to good use leading others.

I think the public would be surprised at how many CMS school administrators less than 5 years of classroom experience (if CMS would even provide such data).

Ann, do you think you could see if you can get this for us?

Wiley Coyote said...

Several board members said developing talent is one of the most important things the district can do to ensure strong, ongoing success for schools.

WOW!...I could have had a V8!....

Where have these "several board members" been the past decade?

You just now had an epiphany that talent needs to be developed?

What happened to all those students prior to this year who have gone to CMS schools taught by less talented individuals?

I have a great idea!

Why don't we, as voters and taxpayers, vote these less than talented BOE members out and develop better talent than we currently have?

Ann Doss Helms said...

1:03, that's an interesting question, and there's probably some good research to be done linking classroom experience and leadership. But my realistic answer is, I'm probably not going to delve into that soon. Lots of news to handle (I'm way behind on the school board election) and lots of staff-shuffling here related to the looming DNC.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"I believe we are about a year away from one of the strongest principal groups in this nation,"

Unless you're a white male.

BolynMcClung said...

These moves are a good test of Mr. Hattabaugh. It indicates he’s not a caretaker. It’s a good test of the board.

While some may see the departure of Dr. Gorman as a period of quite while the system waits for new leadership, there are 138,000 students who need to do better than the year before. That only comes from minding the store aggressively.

For those who feel a compulsion to watch what happens at CMS, the lack of changes like seen at Tuesday’s board meeting would be a worrisome sign.

Also, CMS is in what they call the “SELL MODE” in the hunt for a new superintendent. They want to put their best foot forward. An active Interim Superintendent providing the school board with good choices is a good way to let superintendent candidates know that our community is serious about education.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

What an unbelievable amount of B.S.

PowerPoint presentations, reports, more PowerPoint, more reports, more committees to study the reports and the PowerPoint presentations, mor erpeorts, more PowerPoint... ZERO results.

That's why I sold one of our cars, cut back every single unnecesary expense and put my children in private school!

Wiley Coyote said...

...the spin cycle is on....

Anonymous said...

Did a bit of googling on today. Look at the contract that was signed as well as the Statement of Work, specifically page 6. You will find the name of Jim Huge who is going to run some sort of retreat. Google Jim Huge and Broad. You will soon see that Mr. Huge is a Broad special speaker. Isn't it interesting that his name can not be found anywhere on the website. Why is that? Has this organization removed his name from their website for a reason?

Didn't you love Eric Davis giving his continues, enthusiastic support for PfP even though there is no significant data that it work and little if any support from the rang and file.

Dig into this ADH. I think some good investigative reporting will find many more connections with this firm and The Broad Foundation. If that is the case, we might as well get ready for more of the same.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to note that the administrative pipeline has always been around in CMS. For many years, building level principals identified promising teachers that they thought would make good assistant principals. They gave these folks leadership opportunities and the teachers, often on their own dime, attended a graduate program in educational leadership.

Why now is this the latest and greatest?

Those of us who have been in multiple buildings and worked under multiple principals have seen three different outcomes with the old as well as the new way. In rare instances, we have seen great leaders. In most cases, we have seen average principals. In a few cases, we have seen terrible principals.

Notice how I did not use the word leader in the last two. The truth is, most of the principals I have worked around have been terrible leaders. Many have been "average" managers at best.

Leaders inspire their staff to willingly follow because they are great. Managers, like our former super and most principals in CMS, are more what you will typically find.

Who are the true leaders right now in CMS? Ms. Clark must be "hitting the pipe" in that pipeline if she thinks that in the next few years CMS will have the strongest principal group in the USA.

Anonymous said...


Every employee involved with educating students in CMS should teach at LEAST one class.Many problems solved by this simple measure.If an employee does not have a lisence to teach, then how can they be an effective hire?

CMesS problem solved

Anonymous said...

@ 3:54

WOW! Thanks for posting that. I pulled the proposals and googled Jim Huge and Broad and found the connections there. You're also right that there's a deliberate disconnect between the proact website and his name.

I immediately can see many school discricts, Hillsborough, Charleston..etc..) that are Broad infected.

CMS - did you think no one was going to catch on to this? Unreal - you are as just as bad as the past superintendent. He did end runs around you and now you as a board are try to do the same thing to the community in "buying", I mean hiring a new one.

Ann - you should spend some time riding this wave.

Wiley Coyote said...

"Broad infected"?

Educrats/Educators have been infected by their own incestuous policies for decades.

It doesn't matter what label you put on it..

BolynMcClung said...


Had any of you who participate in this blog attended the search workshop sessions, you would have had more to discuss than Broad.

You would have heard why ProAct was the best firm. Heck, you could have rated each of the firms just like the board members and then shared your thoughts with some of them.

The board offered to the public a chance to sit in on the meeting with the search firms(but without permission to comment). Before and after you could have met the owners of Ray Associates and ProAct as well as the other three firms.

The search for the new Superintendent shouldn't be something to react to; it should be something to participate in.

Don't miss the next chances. That is what was set-up Tuesday when the board decided on a way to get public input.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...


As you are aware I am sure, not everyone has the luxury of time to attend such meetings, as we are luckily employed. Therefore we rely on media and the school district to do their respective jobs in reporting the appropriate information to the public.

As I read the Board information, I see no references to the items the the bloggers here have mentioned. If I go out and search for these things, then that's all I have to go on as far as information...I know that board members will not return my emails or calls from previous experiences regarding other issues. Consider this, maybe the PR positions could do a better job of disseminating information regarding this topic. I do believe we just hired a few more of them after all.

So before you take a jab at us bloggers, consider yourself lucky that you have the time to attend these meetings and shake hands and meet the search firms personally.

Larry said...

Just like the Highway Patrol Officer asked my a few years ago when he pulled me over: "What's Your Hurry?"

We will have a new operating board in just a few months.

Anonymous said...

Look at this deal Baton Rouge got.

Look at this one in

CMS got ripped!

Anonymous said...

Boylyn, Sad truth is that those of us in CMS are afraid we will all of the sudden start getting bad evaluations. One needs to be careful.

Anonymous said...

Ha! It's always the teacher's fault, let's just pile on some more bogus lesson plans in order to promote the "stability."

Anonymous said...

The Broad connection is interesting. Does this imply the Board opted to hire a search that will seek and find a Broad Super? Or that the Board was not aware of the connection when the decision was made? I overheard at lunch that the school closings cost CMS over 12 million dollars and the money is jumbled between last year’s funds, this year’s funds, and fund balance. Also that hundreds of mobiles use more resources to operate than the closed schools. Can that be true?

BolynMcClung said...

Reply to Anon 7:41


While assembling the information for my website, I scouted-out search cost. I found that the cost of searches was related to size of school district. For example, in North Dakota a search was generally in the $10K range. The candidates were from or near N. Dakota.

The Wake County search cost $82,500 plus expenses.

What I can tell you is the search firm selected, ProAct, was the superior product. When they explained themselves and took question there was no doubt they had researched Charlotte-Mecklenburg. One of the concerns the board had was that the search firm would be the face of CMS to the candidates. This knowledge of CMS and how well they presented it was probably the clincher.

Bolyn McClung

PS: I work 50 hrs plus a week but I do have the advantage of an employer that supports public education and encourages me to participate.

Anonymous said...

Face facts...We wanted our schools to be run like our businesses. We have exactly that.. a complete failure.

Wiley Coyote said...

....depends on the business...

no on said run it like Chrysler.

Anonymous said...

Pipeline? Really? Unless you are a New Leader for New Schools, or other program that shuttles non-educators into principalships. Right before Rashida Morgan shared, they confirmed the posting of Beth Wardy to Sterling Elementary. She was a math facilitator. I'm sure she's wonderful, but what about that principal pool?

Mudd E. Diction said...

CMS should be developing a system to ascertain the percentage of a student's capacity to learn that CMS achieves in a given year? Having a child advance one year in a school year when that student has the capacity to advance 2 years in that year is undoubtedly counterproductive in terms of maximizing the United States ability to compete in a global marketplace. Investing in the development of predictors of a child's capacity to learn and then testing to the child’s capacity would be an advance for education and th ehuman race. Application of business theory to the classroom is nonsense when applied to learning. In business the goal is to make a profit, often with as little investment as possible. In education the goals is not profit, but to deliver the highest educated students possible. Business theory certainly applies to support operations, but applying business theory to classroom learning is suicide. Can we afford to bankrupt our children? Unlike millionaire business owner’s the students can’t open up under a different name and continue with business as usual. CMS, please hire an intelligent superintendent capable of individual thought that is not a follower of corporate handouts.

Wiley Coyote said...

While the goal of business may be to make a profit, a profit can only be made by having a sound, quality product consumers want to buy.

If public education was a business with their end product a quality education, that company would have gone out of business a long time ago.

Public school systems should be run like a business and for years they haven't been.

Anonymous said...

I am fairly certain that Ann Clark wouldn't know a strong principal if one picked her up and threw her at the board of education. The current principal cadre that CMS now has is one of the most inexperienced in this system's history. People are being promoted based on false statistics and phony programs. Ann Clark, there is no one in this system that trusts you, your credibility is gone.

Anonymous said...

WILEY COYOTE: If schools run like businesses will we get a bailout, and be able to not pay it back? If school operate like businesses can we ship the manufacture of our products to China like you do? Can we skirt tax laws, regulations and any type of ethical behavior just like businesses? If so, then sign me up so we can operate like you who crashed the economy.

therestofthestory said...

I like Mudd E. Diction's comment. Bottom line I have been saying for years is that we are attempting to feed some students from a firehose who can only swallow a sip once a day. And yet, we starve the students who can drink from a firehose and make them fight over a dripping faucet.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:01...

We've already been "bailed out" to the tune of $25 million dollars.

I call it Stimulus Crack from the pusher/dealer Obama and here he is trying to push more stimulus crack (tax dollars) out to "retain teachers and upgrade technology".

On the surface it sounds great, but someone has to pay for all this. We saw what happened last year when CMS' $25 million dollars in stimulus crack ran out, adding to the supposedly $100 million dollar budget shortfall.

The president's plan would also spend $25 billion on school infrastructure to modernize at least 35,000 public schools, including spending on computer labs and on emergency repairs. He would spend an additional $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and support the hiring of thousands more.

How do school districts intend to sustain paying for the hiring of all those new teachers after the initial funds run out?

Mudd E. Diction said...

Wiley 9:50 The legitimate not-for-profit business sector is not concerned with profit, but instead the greater good. In the NFP sector business decisions are not made based on what will generate the most profit, but what will generate the greatest good. This is a completely different value system than is found in most profit based companies, it is a completely different way of thinking. Good decisions for education may not meet the definition of good decisions in the profit based sector. Public education systems should not be run like profit seeking business because they are not for profit. This is why chasing corporate give away cash is suicide for the classroom. Corporate gurus made their money based on a system of paying less for things worth more like human labor, exploiting natural resources here and abroad and in some cases making really good technological development. This does not mean they can teach, know how to teach or are even educated. Not-for-profit gurus make their contribution to society not through an increasing bank account, but through improving segments of society in ways that money just can't buy. Eliminating child labor and freeing black Americans from slavery were bad business decisions based on profit motive, but helped make America become the world leader we are. CMS needs better decision making from a not- for-profit philosophical approach. For profit philosophy would have CMS change name, product line or branding strategy to survive, none of which help children learn. To educate is vastly different than to make profit and a significant fraction of business community including the Broad Foundation do not understand this fact. That is why CMS needs to hire a superintendent capable of individual thought that is not a follower of corporate handouts.

Mudd E. Diction said...

Wiley 11:19 The thought that America will use tax dollars to educate children instead of building infrastructure for countries that have little or nothing to do with protecting our homeland may be offensive to Obamaphobes, but not me. Our best national defense investment is in an educated population.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 11:57...

Forget the profit/not for profit argument.

I'm talking basic business management structure here.

Today, the educrat mantra is to blame teachers for the failings and lackluster performance of students.

Not long ago, I compared the public school system to Chrysler of the 80's.

Remember K Cars? Total pieces of sh--. Were the auto workers on the line to blame? Are teachers to blame for lousy student performance?

Chrysler has a Board of Directors, a President/CEO. VP's, upper management, middle management, designers, buyers, etc.

CMS has a Board of Education, a President/Superintendent, VP's, upper management/Zone Superintendents, middle managers/principals and line workers/teachers.

Auto line workers are implementors. They put together a car designed and approved by upper management, supplied by parts from outside suppliers. If the end result is a piece of junk car, who's to blame?

Teachers are implementors. They have little to no say in policy or what the curriculum is to teach. They have no say in the main component of their job, students. If some students don't succeed, is it the teacher's fault?

Running education like a business means putting people in positions that have a clue and the ability to do the job, streamlining programs that work and eliminate ones, like Bright Beginnings, that don't.

Managing resources; money, employees, facilities efficiently.

Being able to fire teachers who don't cut it and hire the best possible candidates to take their place.

Demanding more accountability from the government in the school lunch program by allowing FULL, fair audits of the program and kick those off who do not qualify. Doing that would streamline the funding process to allow getting a better handle on funding for programs.

Ensure that your greatest asset, teachers, receive the respect and pay due them for their service.

Finally, elect a Board of Education that has the guts to do their job, instead of the current one that hands off the touchy subjects to the BOCC like they did with Bright Beginnings and refused to try and cut the massive waste and fraud in the school lunch program, which touches every aspect of funding for the schools.

Wiley Coyote said...


you're comparing apples to oranges using a red herring to make your argument.

We don't have to use "foreign dollars" to do it.

We have so much waste in this country just in the school lunch program and everything else that FRL number touches to spend on technology and teachers.

Last year, the USDA overpaid school lunch funds to the tune of $1.5 BILLION dollars. That doesn't include all of the other funds associated with it.

Larry said...

Run like a business, maybe one that had the most protected status since the English Tea Routes.

The fact is we now have groups who are starting schools which focus on the needs of the Children the system has just let drift until they drop out.

These are the new schools which are making a difference.

And with the House in Washington just approving a new law this week, and now going to a willing Senate we will see a new wave of Charters all over the country.

A new wave that will help even more tear down these walls that have held back the real competition our schools have needed to blow off the cobwebs and make Public Schools come into the our time and compete with with the rest of the World.

So if you think what Public Schools have done in the past has not worked, yes it has not worked all because they were never allowed to get out on the open Seas where the real wind and excitement of the Ocean really takes your and the kids breath away, and where the big fish really are.

Dangerous and exciting but so is life and that is what education is all about and hopefully how to avoid the dangers.

Wiley Coyote said...


School systems can be run "like" a business with children's education being THE primary focus or end product.

Your wonderful charter schools still have to be run like a business and in the end, whether charter schools or not, the end product is providing a quality education.

Larry said...

Well at least we know that wonderful or not we have tried the not so wonderful public schools for the last fifty years.

So getting these options on the table along with other ideas is a step in the right direction.

So you are right about that aspect of this whole thing.

Larry said...

And Leaders of Color or those interested in starting a Charter school in your neighborhood, if you are interested in starting a Charter School, Johnson C. Smith University is hosting a meeting for a group next Tuesday night to give you all the information you need.

Go to for more information on this new way of looking at options for all those who need options the most.

Or call me 704.919.1230 I am not making a penny off of this nor are they, they are just helping get the information out so people can do what they feel is right for alternatives in education.

Mudd E. Diction said...

Wiley, we agree more than you might think.

Statistically most businesses are expected to fail. Only very few succeed.

That is why I object to wholesale application of the business model to education.

We agree good decision making is critical to any management approach and may apply well to “operations” decisions. However, the business model does not work in terms of “education” which is my focus of concern.

Business models do not apply well to the process of children acquiring knowledge. The Board needs to focus on improving education. Senior administrative and planning staff need to be held to the fire making good operational decisions.

In a purely business model the best decisions could be related to returning to child labor to teach children how to work. Who do you think stitched that button onto your imported skirt?

I want all children to absorb intellect and avoid a future of stitching buttons on shirts for the Chinese.

Wiley Coyote said...


You're still missing the point.

This has nothing to do with buttons. Has nothing to do with child labor. Has nothing to do with China.

The BOE and educrats in the District office down to principals couldn't manage themselves out of a wet paper bag and that has nothing to do with children acquiring knowledge.

Dividing up the main district into these stupid "learning communities" is a prime example of the FAILURE of management to run CMS like a business.

Children will acquire the knowledge taught to them by teachers or they won't.

Wiley Coyote said...

Stupid In America
By John Stossel

School spending has gone through the roof and test scores are flat.

While most every other service in life has gotten faster, better, and cheaper, one of the most important things we buy -- education -- has remained completely stagnant, unchanged since we started measuring it in 1970.

Why no improvement?

Because K-12 education is a government monopoly and monopolies don't improve.

The government-school monopoly claims: Education is too important to leave to the free market. At a teachers' union rally, even actor Matt Damon showed up to deride market competition as "MBA style thinking."

"Competition may be okay for selling movies and cell phones, but education is different," says the establishment. Learning is complex. Parents aren't real "customers" because they don't have the expertise to know which school is best. They don't know enough about curricula, teachers' credentials, etc. That's why public education must be centrally planned by government "experts".

Those experts have been in charge for years. They are what school reformers call the "Blob." Jeanne Allen from the Center for Education Reform says for years attempts at reform have run, "smack into federations, alliances, departments, councils, boards, commissions, panels, herds, flocks and convoys, that make up the education industrial complex, or the Blob.

Taken individually they were frustrating enough, each with its own bureaucracy, but taken as a whole they were (and are) maddening in their resistance to change. Not really a wall -- they always talk about change -- but more like quicksand, or a tar pit where ideas slowly sink.

And the most powerful part of the Blob is the teachers' union.

This Saturday, I interview Nathan Saunders, the President of the Washington, D.C. Teachers' Union, and Joseph Del Grosso, President of the Newark Teachers' Union. They say things like, "the unions have a pretty strong history of advocating for high-quality public education... We have progress as a result of unions."

Their predecessors were more candid. When the Washington Post asked George Parker, when he headed the Washington, D.C. teachers union, why he fought a voucher program that let some kids escape failing government schools, he said, "As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we'll have teachers to represent."

Albert Shanker, the teachers' union president who, years ago, first turned teachers unions into a national political force, was even more honest. Shanker callously said, "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

Union leaders first. Teachers second. Kids third. Or maybe fourth or fifth, after the school board, the principal's union, or some other part of the Blob.

Read more:

Mudd E. Diction said...

Again, I think there is room to agree. There are plenty of bad decisions we can and have pointed at by CMS in terms of planning and fiduciary responsibility. There is a stupid factor attributable to the “king hath no clothes” syndrome. Those in administrative power never really see or understand where the rubber hits the road. However, modeling business is not a guarantee of good decisions. If it was most businesses would not fail in America. To use the earlier Chrysler example, CMS can’t just shut the doors and close down if kids do not learn. Not an option.

I think there must a better analogy we can use than “CMS should be run like a business.”

CMS should be run more efficient YES!

Run like the bailed out banks with tax dollar bonuses to executives....NO!

CMS should make better organizational decisions YES!

CMS should be run like the large insurance companies who floated themselves out of business NO!

CMS should provide high level of intellectual stimulation and growth for all students YES!

CMS should provide business investment seminars on how to get over on the system NO!

The current wave of using the “run like a business” analogy is logically weak and intellectually superficial.

We can do better than rest on the mass appeal of a superficial buzz phrase that really does not apply.

Thomas Jefferson did not found the University of Virginia in 1825 based on the concept of business operations or profit and it is alive and well today. CMS needs a Super who can think independently and not get wrapped up in all the outsider mumbo jumbo.

There is room to agree.