By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The Clark County School District Board of Trustees has narrowed down its search for a new superintendent to four finalists. The search started with seventy-seven candidates which included a number of local educational administrators, none of which were given serious consideration. While the local candidates may have been as well qualified, or even better qualified, than some of the finalists, they were surely tainted by being employees of a dysfunctional school district that ranks last in the nation in almost every educational category conceived by man.
It would have been cool if the district had published a bracket listing prospective candidates. They could have allowed play-ins to cut it to sixty-eight. Then they could have divided the contestants into North, East, South and West regionals. We could have all filled out our brackets and see who came to the correct selection. Not knowing anything about the candidates, my pick would have been a minority female so I am still in the running.
Those who made the final four include John Deasy who has unsuccessfully served as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
If the Los Angeles newspaper article is correct, finalist John Deasy gallivanted all over the world while Los Angeles Unified School District had major scheduling problems under a plan he instituted. This is an example of the old Nero-fiddled-while-Rome-burned syndrome. The district suffered a $2 million shortfall due to his plan to give every child a chrome book.
Of course, a $2 million shortfall is nothing compared to the $60 million shortfall CCSD suffered under its present superintendent.
Finalist Jesus Jara was appointed by Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott to run the Keys School District after the previous superintendent resigned amid a financial scandal. The school board there passed over Jara for reappointment and instead hired Mark Porter.
This reminds me of the time I applied for a superintendent’s job. One board member, after reading all of my letters of recommendation asked the following question: “If you are as good as these letters say you are, why didn’t your district hire you?” I did not get the job.
I would have to ask Mr. Jara the same question. “If you are so good, why did the district you worked for as an appointed superintendent not hire you when selecting a permanent superintendent?”
Jara was also a finalist for other Florida superintendencies but was not selected for any of these. These districts were much smaller than CCSD. I do not expect that he will get the job.
Donald T. Haddad is the highly successful superintendent of St. Vrain Schools in Longmont, Colorado, a school district of 32,000 students. Again, if the news articles are to be believed, St. Vrain is among Colorado’s top districts. Haddad has won numerous honors, including a designation this year by Education Week as a “Leader to Learn From.”
St. Vrain was one of only 16 districts nationwide to win a 2012 Race to the Top grant — a $16.6 million windfall to fund programming in science, technology, engineering and math. The district is in the middle of an initiative with Apple to provide an iPad to every student, and it runs a summer Innovation Academy where elementary students work on projects with IBM employees.
John Creighton, a school board member for eight years, including five as president, credits Haddad with dramatically improving not only academic offerings but employee morale, district finances and community support. These all sound like issues that need attention in the Clark County School District.
And finally, there is a woman, Dr. Shondra Huery-Hardman, who has never been a superintendent but has been a high ranking central office administrator for the Houston Independent School district. While having never served as a superintendent, her profile on the HISD website list the many talents and accomplishments of Dr. Huery-Hardman which would qualify her for the position.
Dr. Huery-Hardman is an African-America women who has successfully filled roles that were aimed at improving the educational opportunities for minority students.
After reading news accounts of Deasy and Jara, one must wonder how these two candidates made the final cut. With a little research, and without paying $50,000 dollars for a consulting firm, I narrowed down the viable candidates to Donald Haddad and Shonda Huery-Hardman. From there it is no longer a simple decision. Both Donald Haddad and Shonda Huery-Hardman have been very successful in the positions they have filled.
If you want to fill out your bracket, here are some facts that you might want to consider. Seventy-five percent of the CCSD student body is made up of what is usually thought of as minority students.
Therefore, it might be advantageous to select a minority candidate who would better understand their unique educational needs. Further, the fact that there has never been a female superintendent of CCSD and there are those who will seek to break the “glass ceiling” may need to be factored into the decision.
One might keep in mind that six of the seven CCSD Board of Trustees are women.
Since the CCSD Board of Trustees have eliminated all qualified local administrators and what little research I have done would eliminate Deasy and Jara, I would conclude that Donald Haddad is the best qualified to fill the positions of superintendent of the Clark County School District.
However, if I were to put money on the decision, I will have to guess on the bracket buster Shonda Huery-Hardman. In a district that is approximately 46 percent Latino, 14 percent African-American, six percent Asian and only 25 percent White, the selection of an African-America female might well make sense.
Keep in mind this is merely the ramblings of an old educator who is not smart enough to not try to predict the unpredictable.
You need to understand that I never picked a single winner in the NCAA basketball tournament. I missed the call on the winner of the Super Bowl and the World Series. However, I did predict Lyndon Johnson’s announcement that he would not run for re-election on March 31, 1968.
I am not sure I have been correct since. That is why I don’t gamble.
Thought of the week… “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
― Yogi Berra