Dear BoE representatives,
I was prompted to write to you knowing that the search for a new Superintendent has begun in earnest. While it is not my place to recommend to you a specific person for this role, as a concerned citizen who has spoken with many other citizens about this matter, I would like to advocate a vision for the kind of Supt. who would serve our community well.
First and foremost, I hope that you will consider character as more important than competence. Of course, this is not to say that competence and credentials are irrelevant, but the temptation will be to find someone with the most impressive looking resume, rather than someone who has the most virtuous character. Appearances can be deceiving, and administrative “accomplishments” are often not what they seems (as I have endeavored to show this past year). We need a head of school who is honest, principled, humble, and not self-seeking (i.e. willing to sacrifice his own short-term interests for the true good of our children and community). A skilled manager/administrator is a dime a dozen, and you have such people in the central office already. What we need is a person of impeccable character, and who has a compelling educational vision and the courage to see it through. I urge you to commit yourselves to judge candidates by the heart, not by appearances.
This leads me to my second guideline: that you hire someone who has a vested interest in this county beyond his or her career. This could mean owning property, having children in the system, having family here…If the person does not already live here, then require him to live here (I have heard from many sources that this was part of the current Supt’s contract but was never enforced). In such a situation, a person who has a larger stake in the school system would be more likely to make decisions with a view towards the long-term good of the community.
Together, these two guidelines mean that the focus of your search for the right leader should be local. You will be able to judge better the character of a person who you already know or who is well known to your constituents and employees. Relying only on outside character references in an application are bound to produce a one-sided perspective (what applicant would submit references who would NOT speak favorably of his character?). Also, I think it is prudent to also talk to the candidate’s chief critics in order to get a well-rounded perspective.
Thank you for consideration of these recommendations. I am asking God to guide you and give you wisdom in this important decision.
President, Citizens for Excellence in Public Schools