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Community gives feedback on superintendent search

By the Notebook on Feb 24, 2012 12:46 PM

by Samantha Coggin

Meetings to gather community feedback on the District's superintendent search wrapped up this week.

In early February, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, in partnership with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement, launched a series of public forums to gather community feedback to present to the School Reform Commission about the leadership characteristics the SRC proposed to guide its superintendent search.

And though the District continues to push forward with its Renaissance Schools initiative and is working to eliminate its budget decifit, the search for a superintendent with many skills continues to move full speed ahead.

Last month, commenters on the Notebook blog offered suggestions on who they think should be superintendent. Names mentioned included:

In addition to names, commenters discussed expectations and qualities for a superintendent. Political activist and Notebook blogger Ron Whitehorne developed his own petition with the 10 essentials of a new superintendent.

SRC Commissioner Wendell Pritchett, who is charing the search committee, said “We're going to be engaging deeply with parents” in the search process.

Notes of community feedback from the search meetings will be released next week. A summary report of the meetings is expected March 1. The committee hopes to complete the hiring process and have a new superintendent in place by July to take over from recently appointed Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen.

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Comments (3)

Submitted by debra weiner (not verified) on February 28, 2012 11:12 am

While I respect and admire all the people mentioned, I think the major qualification should be having turned around a large, public unionized bureaucracy.

Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on February 28, 2012 12:23 pm

Hi Debbie! The problem is there is no one who has successfully turned around a large bureaucratic school system in America. What I learned at the Save Our Schools Conference in Washington this summer is that what has happened in Philadelphia has happened in every city in America.

The issues are the same everywhere in urban America.

There are no great saviors out there. I attended several of the superintendent search forums and at every one I attended, the stakeholders preferred someone who knows Philadelphia and has demonstrated their commitment to our schoolchildren and our community. However, they did say that if there was someone out there who was truly a great collaborative leader who understands urban education and has experience as a teacher and school leader, then it would make sense to hire such a person.

What is most important is that the application process and selection process is done in an open, honest, transparent and public manner.

I will be writing more about "How we choose our leaders." But let me say this for now: It needs to be done in a "democratic process" where the candidates, or at least the final candidates, are presented to the public in an open forum where we get to meet the candidates and ask questions of them.

Then we need to be given the opportunity to comment on the candidates to the SRC before the SRC votes. Leadership Matters and so does How we choose our leaders!

Submitted by Kathleen Sannicks-Lerner (not verified) on February 29, 2012 6:17 pm

Additionally, Debra, the union is NOT the issue, it is the scapegoat. The reason this happened in every urban district in the country, as Rich Megliore so aptly pointed out, has much more to do with poverty, and much less to do with unions. When we finally unite, with the well-being of our country in mind, and a true desire to help and support those living in poverty, we will make headway with turning around entire school districts, including Philadelphia's.

(Dare I say it? Now I await the flying labels!)

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