What we need in a new school chief

Where the Camera Goes

(TV PhotogBlog)

Now that we are preparing to talk transition, a transition-team, a changing of the guard and beginning the search for a new superintendent, what are the top three-five qualities we need out of our new superintendent?

News & Record’s Amanda Lehmert is blogging about this today on the Chalkboard.

Some of the commenters have said the following so far:

*If the school board has any interest in passing the school bonds, they must conduct an open, participative interviewing and hiring process for new superintendent. Include the people in the process in the manner that Charlotte did awhile back. We don’t need a dog and pony show from the board trying to establish what the credentials should be.

*One that won’t waste millions of taxpayer dollars on dropout prevention programs. I mean really, how much are we going to cater to these young people whose parents don’t give a rip if they stay in school? When I was growing up, those who dropped out were shunned as total loosers. Some went back to night school to get their GED. That’s what I call “keeping it simple”.

*evaluation is crucial — it’s not possible to evaluate every change; however, big initiatives should budget and plan for a comprehensive evaluation; rigorously documenting the success or failure of initiatives is necessary for good decision-making down the road; the GCS has two big advantages in this regard; first, it is large enough that it can try initiatives at a pretty large scale while still only affecting a subset of students (this permits a later comparison of students, teachers, schools, etc. that were and were not affected); second, the GCS can draw on the resources of excellent and independent university faculty skilled in conducting program evaluation.

*We want a leader that does not put fear into their employees.
-get discipline back in the classroom- every middle and hs should have an ISS teacher paid for by the county
-understand that the good kids have a right to learn in a peaceful and safe environment. The troublemakers rights don’t supercede the kids that follow the rules


I agree with everything that has been said…and then there’s this…communication is key. Meet the parents, the community, go into ALL of the schools/ALL of the classrooms. Communicate with your staff, including the rank-and-file. Be open, be honest.

Like Amos Quick said yesterday, I’ll be looking for someone who can get right in and dig their heels in on day one.


E.C. 🙂


11 Responses

  1. I would add that we need a superintendent and school board who understand the value of arts and music in the school curriculum. De-emphasizing arts and music is a huge mistake. Children who have an opportunity to learn an instrument and play music overall do better in school. It promotes disclipline, attention to detail and a solid work ethic. Same for the arts, be it drama, painting, or whatever. With the current make-up of the school board, I am not optimistic about the choices they are liable to make. But I hope for the best. I, for one, will not participate in the coronation of our dearly departed superintendent. Terry Grier’s tenure in charge of the Guilford County school system was a black mark on this county and one that will take a very good hire and lots of determined effort to erase. To our counterparts in San Diego, we wish you luck; you’re going to need it. And when you realize the bargain you have made, the answer will be, “No, you can’t send him back. He’s yours now.”

  2. The following ad was found on the website of Education Administration, the monthly journal for school district management professionals:

    Guilford County, NC

    The Guilford County Schools system seeks an experienced professional with excellent leadership and interpersonal skills for the position of Superintendent. The primary educational approach in our district is to emphasize the tenets of multiculturalism and diversity as fundamental values.

    The applicant will not be expected to provide a framework in which order and discipline are maintained in the classroom, because our objective is to assure that chronically misbehaving students remain viable in the educational system. Supporting teachers in the classroom on matters of discipline is not our primary orientation, so you would not need to be concerned about assuming undue risk in this regard.

    The applicant also should not expect to be held accountable for the educational outcome of the students in the system, because our orientation is to assure the perception of equity, not achievement.

    We pride ourselves in our progressive approach. Previous superintendents have used their experience here with our approach to move on to bigger challenges in places like the Washington, DC metropolitan area and southern California. We will build your credentials so you can later compete for higher paying positions in communities such as these.

    We would not expect you to assure that parents are satisfied, or that students are safe. We will not hamstring you with unreasonable expectations as long as you help us achieve our social objectives. You will not be pestered over matters such as economic efficiency with new school construction; and instead will be free to concentrate on creating as many educational programs as possible to create the appearance of progress. And you will not have to worry about being held accountable for the success of those programs.

    Particularly important in our district is the ability to assuage racial sensitivities, even if it means making conditions in the schools very difficult for teachers and motivated students.

    You will also, however, be expected to advocate aggressively for ever-increasing amounts of capital and operational funding on a continuous basis regardless of need. We will need you be skilled at making it appear that we are collectively doing good things even though we are turning a blind eye toward more fundamental issues.

    We are looking for that special professional who can help us uphold some mighty traditions.

    Interested parties may inquire about this outstanding opportunity by calling our Human Resources department at (336) 370-8348.

  3. Stunning find, Stormy…many thanks!

  4. Stormy, do you have the Web address for Educational Administration?

  5. Erik,

    I think that is a joke, but it is representative of the job as Terry Grier did it.

  6. It’s a joke except for the fact that our two middle schoolers have had 6-8 years of this. One is EC and a budding visual artist, the other is AL and a budding musician. All of these areas have suffered during this administration in my estimation.

  7. I wouldn’t doubt it.

  8. What was Terry Grier’s reputation on embracing the arts in your school district?

  9. I would be willing to bet that if Terry Grier procreated, (scary thought) that the butts of his children never landed in a public school desk in this county or ANY county he’s been a superintendent in. Does ANYONE know if this idiot’s children, if he has any, ever attended a public school district where he was a superintendent?

    We need a superintendent that would be willing to place their own children and grandchildren right in the middle of the district itself. The one that they will create. You can bet your back side, if THEIR kids are in the school district they work in, they will make it a wonderful place for children to learn!

  10. Musician, I take it you’re from San Diego (welcome to this forum, by the way)…this year, Guilford Co. Schools severely cut back on elective time for arts/music in our elementary and middle schools in favor of more core time to answer the continuing mandate for NCLB-state exams and test preparation for those exams. In addition, the central office position of the cultural arts coordinator remains vacant. Arts advocates in our county have been crowing the Board meeting chambers since September, asking that this time be restored. A group of consultants from out of state were brought in to study possibly how this time could be restored. To date, they’re still studying the issue. This has become very controversial as of late. Grier recognizes the arts, but has not championed them as he could have…he’s more concerned with testing and test prep, in my opinion.

    Good luck…God Bless. If any of you folks in San Diego need to vent, you’re welcome here anytime.

  11. If Terry Grier goes to San Diego and thinks he’s going to blow off ANY aspect of education, most IMPORTANTLY arts and music, and thinks he’ll get by with it, he’s insane!

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