DeKalb residents ought to show up Thursday at 6 p.m. to meet the three school superintendent finalists.
At the open session at the Administration and Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, candidates will each get 50 minutes to introduce themselves and answer pre-submitted questions.
(I did send this note to DeKalb schools: When are you releasing the three names? It seems odd that the county is asking parents to submit questions without knowing who the candidates are or their backgrounds as the questions would be a lot more relevant if parents knew the candidates’ history.
And I just received an answer that they do plan on releasing the names, possibly today. I will post. Maureen)
In an AJC story on the search for new school chiefs in DeKalb and three other districts, DeKalb School Board Chair Tom Bowen said, “Rather than going behind closed doors, we want to be as inclusive as we can. It goes to the bigger picture of changing the culture and changing perceptions. We want to make sure with anything major we do, we give transparency to it. The more people understand the process, the more comfortable they’ll be we’re doing things in the best interest of students.”
The issue of these open or sunshine searches — where the public is aware of the three finalists — came up at recent panel in Atlanta where Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso spoke. He said that he would not be interested in a job that required such public disclosure. Alonso made the case, which is legitimate, that candidates risked their current jobs and their ability to do those jobs once their names were released.
“I don’t see how a district gets a top person who is in a position right now if it means their sustainability in another setting is gone,” he said.
But fellow panelist Sarah Carr, an education writer now working on a book on urban education reform, argued in favor of openness in school chief selections, saying that transparency is essential and that any school board that uses a secret process ought to have very good reasons for doing so.
“Are school systems crucibles of democracy or are school systems agencies of effectiveness on behalf of kids? Those two things are not necessarily congruent with each other,” said Alonso.
In looking for a new school chief, Carr and Alonso did agree that there is no one person who can do very aspect of the job well.
Until a community decides what is the thing that matters most, Alonso said, “The question of who should be the leader is completely prematurely.”
So what matters most to DeKalb?
Does the county need someone who operates with ruthless efficiency and can purge the ranks of hangers-on, nepotism hires and redundant positions?
Or does the county need an inspirational leader who can rally the troops? Should the school chief be a topnotch instructional leader or a make-the-trains-run-on-time type?
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog