|For Immediate Release
January 13, 2010
|Contact: Steve Kwaterski
Members of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors,
I am writing to express concern with the process for securing input from key community stakeholders on the candidates for the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools.
Last Friday, I sent you the attached letter requesting that each member of the Community Stakeholder Interview Group be provided with copies of the candidates’ application material and any supporting documentation. If the purpose of the Community Stakeholder Interview Group is to ensure that the community is able to provide thoughtful, informed feedback on this critical selection, the members deserve to have the same information that the board has been provided on each candidate and sufficient time to review the material.
I have since been informed that the participants on the Community Stakeholder Interview Group would only be provided with “an overview of each candidate” one half hour before the interviews begin. That half hour would also be spent developing the interview questions and candidate criteria, and each member is allowed to bring only one or two questions for consideration. Participants will not be able to tailor questions for specific candidates and follow up questions will only be allowed if time permits.
Upon completion of listening to each candidate respond to the set questions, the members of the selection committee will be asked to fill out a form that will be submitted to the search firm which “will conclude [our] service on the MPS Superintendent Search Community Stakeholder Interview Group.” There is not an opportunity to follow up with the candidates on their responses or to provide more thoughtful feedback to the board.
I have previously provided the board with these key criteria that I believe the next superintendent must have:
- Experience in a diverse, urban community and a genuine understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that environment presents.
- Strong leadership and the proven ability to identify talented individuals, empower and encourage them to succeed, and hold them accountable for success.
- Demonstrated negotiation and problem-solving skills. The next superintendent must not only be able to identify strategies for success, but also be able to bring the necessary stakeholders together to implement those strategies.
- Excellent communication skills and the ability to garner the support of teachers and parents.
- Experience managing large, complex and diverse entities and demonstration of sound business practices.
- Focus on research-driven strategies and the commitment to using research-based evidence to drive education reform.
- Ability and willingness to be proactive and innovative and not allow excuses to stand in the way of success.
Given the limitations of the Community Stakeholder Interview Group process and the lack of information that will be provided about each candidate, I am requesting that each candidate prepare a written statement that demonstrates they possess each of these skills. I believe this provides an opportunity for the candidates to demonstrate their strengths in these key areas and gives the community more information about the person the board will select to lead our schools.