Thursday, January 19, 2012

Charlotte, Anchorage and the search

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and its search firm,  PROACT Search,  are about to craft a  profile of the superintendent they'd like to hire.  One might expect it to look something like this:

"The successful candidate will have a demonstrated track record of success in leadership roles,  and in complex change management.  He or she will have a passion for the success of every child, and be committed to dramatically improving student,  school,  and district performance.  The successful candidate will have the staying power to be a visible leader in the district,  community,  and state.  The ideal candidate will be a results-oriented team player with the ability to execute immediately while remaining focused on long-term goals and strategies.  He or she will demonstrate effective partnerships with parents,  community organizations,  foundations,  unions,  higher education,  business,  nonprofits,  and the public sector."

That's not a leaked CMS draft, but the gist of PROACT's profile for the superintendent being hired in Anchorage, Alaska.  Reader Bolyn McClung forwarded the link to Anchorage's search as an insight into what might be ahead for Charlotte. Anchorage is several steps ahead in its process. That board narrowed about 150 applicants to five finalists, who were interviewed by Skype, then invited two to visit Anchorage in hopes of making a hire by the end of this month (read about it here).  CMS hopes to have finalists meet the public and make a hire in March.

It seems likely that the CMS checklist will include many of the same items as Anchorage's:  Leadership,  change management,  passion for children's success,  staying power,  partnership-building, etc.   But at least CMS can add an item to its community profile:  No snowshoes required.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Anchorage school board is as deeply mired in politics as is ours. And as for "staying power" of the superintendent, I don't know how it works in Anchorage, but here in Charlotte we can probably predict that whoever is chosen will at first get the "Savior of the city" treatment and immediately become a local celebrity (via intense media hoop-la). This will be followed by a few years of highly scrutinized policy initiatives, which will eventually anger the wrong people even if those initiatives have led to improvement. Next there will be intense efforts to discredit the superintendent (which the media will love). And this will eventually lead to his or her resignation after a max of 5 years.

Of course if the new superintendent is a yes man or woman for the Swann/Meck ACTS/Tuesday Breakfast Forum crowd he may avoid some of the more intense criticism and have more staying power.

csawyer said...

During our small focus group meeting with PROACT a participant asked if Charlotte's desired superintendent characteristics were different from any other communities'. The answer was no.

Anonymous said...

Was that meeting before the change in leadership on the school board? If so, isn't it possible that the desired profile may be changed by the new majority on the board?

BolynMcClung said...


I've been following many, many superintendent searches over the past three months. Because there are over 12,000 school districts there may be several hundred searches at a time.

CMS is using a search firm. Others could find their superintendent through their own succession plans, or local committees. The methods are endless.

Usually the stages are:
-Research needs
-Profile build

Some districts, that don't do the research or are too secretive end-up with undisclosed problems later. Kentucky has had a few bad ones.

Here's a few searches that are very informative.

Dallas, TX - it's a train wreck
Portland, OR - typical
Broward County, FL - intense
Detroit, - 2 years without super
New Vallejo, Ca -8 supers in 10yrs
Portland,Me - in house search
Jefferson County, Ky-court decision

Bolyn McClung

BolynMcClung said...

Supporting Carol Sawyer's Comments:

In my research, I've seen there are always two profiles.

The public one - its the beauty contest

The private one - the political contest.

Each pretty much looks the same in every district.

I see that most searches are like all the others. As an example, if one district is in a financial mess and the other one isn't, the profile is still for someone who will improve the district. More precisely, someone with a track record of successful bond campaigns, successfully dealing with teacher unions, sound financial audits.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the other Broad superintendents have fared over the years?’s-fired-broad-academy-superintendent-maria-goodloe-johnson/

Anyone reminded of St. Pete?

Anonymous said...

Oh look, quite a few other Broad supers have been terminated...

SO, let's hope the new board isn't drinking the same koolaid as the old board. Don't think we are getting a super who will be the "same as the old one," will we Mr. Morgan?

Anonymous said...

I agree on the qualities he/she should have. One more is he/she should be relgious as they wont have a prayer of success. The Broad / Chamber sponsored sales person will come in with high regards. He/she will then leave in 3 years when its discovered they are in way over their head and test scores have droped 10%. Please dont risk our kids future on your continued mis-management. I am having my kids finish elementary school in CMS then its out with the rest to private schools. I am nto willing to risk their future on what I see as a train wreck.

Anonymous said...

If St. Peter Gorman would come back all this would be a non-issue ! Praise Peter the one who closed the schools and created the mess. With help of course from the Charlotte Chamber, Spanglers, Broadies, Allen Tate, Board of Relators.

Anonymous said...

I noticed on the local survey there was no where to comment on integrity and transparency requirements. The general mindset is that it takes extra "overhead" to do and thus that is usually lost in cost savings. However I believe it is mroe important these days because we need to focus on those programs that bring "true" improvement in proportion to the extra money thrown at them and discontinue those programs without true improvement (i.e. those done to make a set of people feel better about themselves due to the demographic that is targeted).

AS we have all seen over the years in this school system (but admittedly is probably happening in other systems), changes in schools, changes in demographic definitions, tend to help those who fight ending programs becuase past measures are deemed invalid. As has been pointed out with the shortcomings of Equity Committee, no sunset is usually defined at the start.

Bottom line, definitely in Charlotte and probably many other "metropolitan" school systems, the superintendent's job becomes too political and thus public confidence erodes quickly after the honeymoon.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I find the Seattle story interesting because apparently Goodloe-Johnson came to Seattle with a lot of baggage. Scroll down the linked piece to comments from the Englemans, who say they both served on the Charleston school board during her tenure there. Both Englemans seem to have no love for Board trained superintendents but that was by far not the only issue with this woman. Read the comments she made about both Charleston (sound similar to something we heard from Kojo?) and about her opinion of Winston Churchill and the World War II generation. It appears that very little due diligence was done by the Seattle board before hiring her.

But lest we forget, there have been many bad superintendents throughout the country who have not been Broad trained as well. In Seattle "“The last 4 Seattle Schools superintendents: Died, resigned amid scandal, resigned amid controversy, resigned amid scandal." according to a local ed blog. I believe only the last was Broad trained. I am quite sure there are many successful Broad trained superintendents serving communities today. and some incompetent non-Broad superintendents out there as well.

Wiley Coyote said...

....looking back on the past 12 to 15 years, in my opinion, there isn't really an ounce of difference from any of the previous superintendents.

Other than wasted spending of tens of millions on Bright Beginnings from Eric Smith.

Thank you Eric.

The next superintendent won't make any difference as long as politicians and educrats ru(i)n public education.

Anonymous said...

Classic Wiley, you have got to trademark that phrase!

The next superintendent won't make any difference as long as politicians and educrats ru(i)n public education.

Anonymous said...

Wiley is dead on a great conclusion as I have stated previously today. Get the interests out from education and it can be changed. If they exsist then no matter who it fails. Go GASTON School board !

Anonymous said...

Wiley, prek was a noble effort. I do not believe any of us critical of CMS would have flinched on spending money for that program had long term benefits been proved. Just because a principal or a teacher can identify those that had been in the program the first day of kindergarten, does not mean it carried its load. Clearly, you had to see the evidence in the 3rd grade EOG's.

With that, the program should have ended. And those that say you should keep it just because you did not bother to try to measure success anymore, clearly view the tax payer with distain. Clearly,it has become just another entitlement program, vote buying program and sacred cow.

This is where some business acumen is needed from the next superintendent. Either pass the savings back to the tax payer or fund some academic program that is producing results.

Wiley Coyote said...

Here's the last paragraph from the Observer Opinion page today regarding the brouhaha over the state's head Superintendent:

...Most education policy is done by legislators and the governor who has control over millions in federal dollars through grants. And Harrison as chair of the Governor's Education Transformation Commission still manages to rival the superintendent in power despite the court ruling.

Is there some magic in the title? I said, locals can feel good all they want about who we hire as the next CMS Sooper, but is there some magic to the position?

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 2:02..

Here's the link to a good article from John Hood, Carolina Journal Online back in 2002 about Bright Beginnings, almost 10 years ago.

Anonymous said...

And nary as word on rebuilding trust among the real educators, the teachers. Even the departure of Gorman hasn't helped.

Stats deceptively wrong again,again,... said...

Deceptive suspension stats, deceptive graduation stats, deceptive budget stats, deceptive renovation stats. CMS high paid educrats have doctorate degrees which include high level number crunching. The culture of deception is so deeply entrenched at CMS that when people speak truth they are deemed not to be trusted. Is there any question CMS leadership is in over their heads and are at best fudging their own security ever deeper into taxpayer pockets? Test stats may not be the best way to gauge what is best for students or their growth, especially under this regime. CMS should rely more on professional judgment than the ability to read a spreadsheet and hire staff with proven professional judgment skill. Dump the cover up artists and get to work for our children CMS.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 5:40...

It's an election year.

We'll see if the Democrat majority on the BOCC all of a sudden finds $30 million for teacher salaries.

Anonymous said...

We need to look deep into the administration and the corruption within the CMS system. From the inept Ambler and Mathews as head of Human Resources to the inane FUBAR of Muri,Cobitz and Baxter. All the party planners in the world will not be able to cover up this mess. The Atlanta scandal will be nothing compared to this.


Anonymous said...

The ADMINISTRATORS are the ones who have messed this up beyond recognition.We are talking about several highly paid (over one hundred thousand dollars per year)staff members.

Dont penalize the teachers. They are the front line workers and the only ones who will actually be able to get us all out of this mess.