Pegged to the leadership turnover in Montgomery County* in the WaPo Jay Mathews comes down hard on superintendent searches. Boards often benefit from a consultant to help manage the process but I agree with him on the value – or more specifically the lack of – with full-blown school district superintendent searches. We don’t do them at Bellwether except in very unusual circumstances because you can do them well (customized/tailored) or you can do them in a way that is break-even or profitable (list of usual suspects). It’s hard to do both.
On the other hand, Jay makes a good case about candidates for this role, but I don’t find hard and fast lines about internal or external candidates especially useful. Leadership roles like this are situational and vary situation to situation.
*Jay’s greasing of Montgomery County is a little over the top though! These large suburban school systems are never as “world class” as their world class PR machines would have you believe.
3 Replies to “Superintendent Searches”
The poor, minorities and disadvantaged still do better in MoCo than in DCPS and DCPCS.
At what point will we stop putting such important decisions in the hands of school boards? These well-meaning, well-intentioned officials often have NO experience whatsoever in education or policy and are charged with making huge, consequential decisions.
People can make cracks about school boards, and — indeed — they do not hire supts on a regular basis and, ergo, do not become skilled in the task. That said…
Superintendent search firms seem like a joke, in my opinion. Have not yet found one that sticks out as significantly better than the rest.
To maximize profit, these firms’ goal is to get a superintendent selected as fast as possible. Fast rarely equals good.
Also, the inside joke is that any sitting supt who has his/her papers “already on file” with a search firm is generally not the best qualified candidate for the district that is looking for a new leader. “Buyer beware.”