The School Superintendent Talent Pool
Enjoy the picture of our session last week at The SUPES Academy–in Philadelphia. Proact Search operates these academies in several hubs around the US, to help nurture and prepare a new generation of school system leaders. I have served as a master teacher at SUPES for a couple of years. Last week, Drs. Joe Hairston and Barbara Byrd Bennett and I facilitated the work of SUPES Philly. In each of the SUPES academies we are meeting passionate and read-to-lead educators and they are wonderfully inspiring.
This work is modeled after Tim Quinn’s Michigan SUPES academies and the curriculum is relevant, rigorous, and engaging. So much so that placements out of SUPES into new school superintendent positions have been impressive in terms of matching good super with good school boards. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that, nationally, we are still seeing shrinking numbers of persons actually applying for school superintendent positions. Two examples–fewer than 25 applied for the positions recently in Orlando, FL and Palm Beach County, FL. This is compounded by the number of superintendent vacancies increasing sharply throughout the nation. Staggering! These stresses impact the quality of superintendent talent pools, which in turn impacts school board members’ options to make good choices for their superintendent vacancy.
It might be worth dialogue nationally about what we must do to make sure that well-prepared and highly-dedicated persons go after these tough jobs in greater numbers. Might the problems, be any one of the following:
1. the media, exposure and risks associated with more opining and less actual reporting?
2. the number of well-meaning school board members vs. those who seek these offices for either single-issue or some other disruptive purpose?
3. the more politicized state departments of education and the erosion of the relationships between state departments and local leaders (including superintendents)?
4. deeper divides among groups and factions of community members about schooling and children period-making the work of operating school districts seemingly impossible to more and more would-be superintendents?
Whatever the drivers of these low numbers of highly qualified persons seeking school superintendent positions, we need to address the issues-head on. Almost everywhere, there still remains enormous achievement gaps to close and a whole nation needing and deserving better prepared children to drive our economy and ways of life tomorrow.
P.S. Check out the work of SUPES in Philly below. Red Clay Delaware superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty is sharing ideas with fellow academy members.