7/11/2006

Why No Successor In Boston?

Given a decade of continuity at the top for the Boston public schools -- and a long lead time to look for a replacement -- it seems like a shame that the Boston community isn't much farther ahead of anyone else when it comes to finding a replacement (Some question public forums for schools chief job Boston Globe). As I wrote about in my profile of Payzant for Education Next this spring, it seems unfortunate and a bit of a mystery why neither the School Committee nor Payzant himself didn't start the process earlier or even groom a successor.

2 Comments:

Blogger KC said...

I've been following this closely, and I blame the role of the public in the search for their problems. Leaking the short list to the press was the biggest SNAFU, but requiring a public interview process for those candidates also poisons the well.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Mike G. said...

It may be more than the "public hearings."

Leading BPS after Payzant is a lose-lose situation to all but hacks who otherwise have no chance for a big-city superintendency.

As Alexander's article in Ed Next points out, there are really two views of Boston. It's not like Philly hiring Vallas, or NYC hiring Klein ("We're in trouble!")

The dual view of BPS would pin any first-tier candidate, like Manny Rivera is supposed to be.

1. The school board and mayor want mostly status quo, with some gentle improvements...they think that'll win a Broad Prize at last.

2. Critics point to rising, not falling, Achievement Gap; the usual urban grad rates (ie, 55% range); the very low college grad rate for black and Hispanic kids; NCLB "failing school" issues. This stuff is only becoming more transparent.

As Supe:

If you try to do what school board wants, which is mostly "build on Payzant" (ie, don't stir up union trouble), the emerging numbers are going to make it look like the problems are happening on your watch. It would be "Payzant was great, but look at this clown." If "things are good", then you have no ammo to drive real change.

If you want to push hard for real reform, then you need to dispel the view that Payzant Era was big success, which means you need to clearly and honestly define the problems. If "things are very troubling", that will give you a justification for real change, but it will sour your relations with your school board and the mayor.

Smart supes want the the BPS job in 3 years - AFTER Payzant's replacement gets fired. Then all the problems will all be on the table, a need for strong leadership will really be there, and you can ride in on a white horse.

1:08 PM  

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