Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One question the school board will definitely ask the next CMS superintendent

CMS school board chair Mary McCray, vice chair Tim Morgan and general counsel George Battle met Wednesday with the Observer editorial board and education reporter Andrew Dunn. We'll have an editorial later on what they said about new superintendent Ann Clark and how they still don't seem to understand why an outside counsel is needed to look into the investigation and resignation of Heath Morrison.

But Morgan did say he'd learned one thing from the departure of Morrison. Next time, he says, he'll ask each superintendent candidate this question:

"When you took the job you're in, who followed you?"

Morrison apparently didn't bring anyone to Charlotte in 2012 from the Reno-area school district where he was superintendent. That's telling now, given that Morrison resigned amid allegations that included berating and mistreating CMS staff. To be fair, though, the school board can't really be blamed for not thinking to ask that specific question in 2012 of the very highly regarded Morrison.

Failure, however, is instructive, and Morgan says the board will "dig a little deeper" into the next superintendent-to-be. That will likely involve not only traveling to the districts where the candidates work, but conducting what Morgan called "some anonymous meetings" to see how the candidate's subordinates really feel. McCray even suggested showing up at a church or two and striking up some conversations.

We're all in favor of good reporting.

Peter St. Onge


14 comments:

Cornelia said...

Apparently the BOE didn't vet any of their fianalists. They had Kriner Cash in their too three. But this latest move and Tate's mea culpa do not negate the need to engage outside, disinterested counsel to investigate and report back to taxpayers on Morrison's dismissal.
What nationally recognized superintendent do they think is fool enough to apply for the top job after that debacle?

Cornelia said...

Make that Morgan, not Tate. Apologies to board member Tate. He was one of the three with a spine, even if for the wrong reason.

Frank Burns said...

Criteria from the local taxpayer is we want a Superintendent who is a tough boss and avoids frivolous spending on lawyers. Hey that sounds just like the last guy.

Another criteria is we don't want any input from the School Lawyer on the selection. We prefer him to keep his mouth shut and only answer legal questions.

Rev. Mike said...

"We'll have an editorial later on what they said about new superintendent Ann Clark and how they still don't seem to understand why an outside counsel is needed to look into the investigation and resignation of Heath Morrison."

Because 1) The Observer has done such a bang up job of firewalling the newsroom from the editorial board so that its reporting is "just the facts, ma'am" in this whole tawdry affair; and 2) because you are having so much fun with this "how do you keep an idiot in suspense" approach to news reporting as you again cross back and forth between editorializing and reporting as it suits your paper's agenda? How about just some plainspoken honesty about your real agenda and who is pulling your strings?

Jeff Wise said...

Isn't the whole purpose of using a national search firm to vet candidates? Shouldn't it be the responsibility of the search firm to understand if a candidate may possibly be a bully, or mean-spirited or whatever?

It's fascinating to watch board members fall all over themselves as they revise their opinion about Morrison and try to absolve themselves of guilt or what not.

As to Morgan's question, I don't think it's quite as clever as he might initially think. A candidate moving practically cross-country is going to have challenges bringing colleagues along. Plus the bureaucracy that's already in place here in Charlotte will mean there's very few openings to bring in other people.

Also, Morrison hired in top-notch people from other districts around the country did he not?

Besides, imagine asking a candidate during the interview process, hey what other staff are you going to bring with you to Charlotte? How can the candidate properly answer that question? It's most likely that candidate's staff doesn't even know their boss is interviewing for other gigs.

Overall, I get that the board feels like they can't admit they screwed this up (thank you Eric Davis for saying otherwise).

But my gosh, this whole debacle is proving to be a textbook case on how not to be a good school board.

Dorne said...

I will tell you that a majority of parnets feel this way: Please, please, please for the love of god, do NOT do another freaking NATIONAL search for another superintendent. Why bring in someone from outside who does not know the schools, the staff, or the community? The searches are expensive, anybody from out of town is going to cost more, and the last two people we had left on bad terms. They're expensive and untested. For pete's sake act like a decent corporation and hire from within. Thanks.

Wiley Coyote said...

Okay my brain just exploded after reading this paragraph:

...Morgan says the board will "dig a little deeper" into the next superintendent-to-be. That will likely involve not only traveling to the districts where the candidates work, but conducting what Morgan called "some anonymous meetings" to see how the candidate's subordinates really feel. McCray even suggested showing up at a church or two and striking up some conversations.

Let's see. When prospective candidates come here to interview, they are flown in to CLT airport and the BOE goes through security and conducts the interviews out of the reach of the public and media to "protect the candidate's identities"..

This from the last superintendent search fiasco:

....So board chairman Ericka Ellis-Stewart says meeting at the airport gives candidates some privacy.

“Because at this stage in the game, candidates find that it’s very important for them. Most of them are high performers in their district and to put it out prematurely for them would be problematic,” says Ms. Ellis-Stewart.


LOL...REALLY????? How did that last job search work out for us?

Here's the $64,000 question;

How will members of the current BOE ever keep secret, meetings at churches and questioning staff members of candidates in their current jobs?

You can't make this ____ up.

Wiley Coyote said...

Adding to what I said previously about our BOE members "going to the applicant's home turf to "interview staff", I hope the Observer will scrutinize every BOE travel voucher/request from now until we hire another Super and report it immediately.

We, the public, may not be allowed in the interviews, but we can damn sure keep tabs on their travel expenses and where they are going.

I think following the travel money throws a kink in their little "undercover information operation".....

The sad fact is - and I said it the last time - it won't matter who they hire. Nothing will change and it hasn't.

Jeff Wise said...

Wiley - you said at the end of your 2nd comment that nothing will change and it hasn't and I don't completely agree with it. I'll kinda agree, but not fully.

Morrison had some interesting programs he was putting into place - the personalized learning, the vocational education partnerships, etc. - that if left intact will bear fruit.

Hopefully that doesn't end up being a drop in the bucket, but it is *some* positive change.

Larry said...

We are approaching this whole Super search thing wrong.

We need to send out a proposal for a new Super, requiring the candidates to present two plans/visions of operating CMS.

First as the whole as it now stands.

Second as a break up with three systems, two being started in the near future.

This would then give us the opportunity to have CMS as a real Urban System as they compare themselves to such as Chicago and NY.

Have the candidates show us their vision for CMS and how they plan to achieve it.

We would also have some excellent folks giving us ideas on the successes and failures we need to focus on.

Finally get down to three candidates by getting the candidates to see if they feel the current board would work with that candidate the best.

The let the public decide on the final few candidates only based on their visions they have and not the name or even knowing who they are.

We need a Super who comes in and is on fire, and knows our system from his or her study.

Mainly one who is not expected to help keep the monster we currently have from ravaging the village.

Write you Board Member today and tell them to start doing a search that make sense and will not cost us an arm and a leg.

Oh and tell them to put me on the board in this position in Feb.

Thanks

www.Deconsolidate.com

Wiley Coyote said...

Jeff,

I said that same comment about the last number of superintendents.

It still boils down to the same failed policies and mindeset that has paralyzed public education for decades.

The only way it's going to stop is to get serious about it nationally, that education isn't an educrat and politician playground for "social justice and social engineering".

We've had all sorts of different "Morrison type programs" implemented by Doctors of so and so for decades with little to show for it and the hundreds of BILLIONS they cost to implement.

I'm all for tech partnerships, but Little Johnny and his sister Susie need to know who the first President was, what 2+2 equals and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. Those things don't change based on skin color, household income or where you live and until we eliminate spending time rehashing the same old poverty, zip code and diversity blah blah crap, nothing will change.

You would think after about 50 years that Americans - whether THEY have an education or not - would be smart enough to realize that if they don't want THEIR children to be like them, make sure they go to school prepared to learn what they didn't, have manners and respect and do their best at all times. Doing those things doesn't cost a dime, yet we never push that mindset.

Another sad fact? Gruber was right.

Cornelia said...

Larry, even if the public selected the super, the result would be no different. Some bishop likely would arrange for busload after busload to go to the polls to choose our de facto decider's favorite.

Cornelia said...

The current school board isn't governing CMS. The heir apparent is in charge.

Shamash said...

Jeff,

"Besides, imagine asking a candidate during the interview process, hey what other staff are you going to bring with you to Charlotte?"

I think they are talking about asking who they brought to their last (or current) job, meaning who moved to Reno to be with Morrison (in Morrison's case).

The question was:

"When you took the job you're in, who followed you?"

And it is asked of the candidate during the interview, not after they've taken the job.

So, for Morrison, it would NOT have been who he was planning to bring to Charlotte from Reno.

But who followed him to his then current job in Reno from
his last job in Maryland.

Still, probably not the best way to vet a candidate since a lot of people may not want to travel across the country to follow their old boss, but it makes more sense.