Schools chief coupon gets a 1 for sense

December 27, 2001

Schools chief coupon gets a 1 for sense

I couldn't help but notice the little "clip-n-save" coupon in last Friday's editions of The Herald-Mail, in which the Washington County School Board surveys what the public values in a new chief.

Sort of like a personals ad for a superintendent.

People are encouraged to fill out the survey and mail it back in to the board, but, frankly, that would cost me the price of a stamp, so I'll just fill it out here.

Let's see, "Please circle the number of the group you represent: 1. Administrator. 2. Community Member. 3. Educational Support Staff. 4. Parent/Guardian. 5. Student. 6. Teacher. 7. No children in System. 8. Other (Please specify)."

OK, that would be a negative on 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. I don't see how you can be an 8 since you have to be either a 4 or a 7. I'm guessing though that it you admit to being a 5, 6, or 7, they immediately tear up your ballot, which leaves me clocking in as a 2.


On we go. "Section 1. Please rate the following qualities on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highest in terms of importance in selection of a superintendent."

1. Experienced educator/administrator. Experience is overrated. I think you get too hung up on jargon and institutionalism. I'd like to see a fresh perspective by bringing in, say, a registered nurse or a flight instructor. I'll give this a 1.

2. Ability to build team/lead collaboratively. Look, this is a school system, not synchronized swimming. There's no "I" in "team," but there is in "Superintendent." 1.

3. Articulate communicator/Dynamic presence. A great communicator. Like Ronald Reagan? A dynamic presence. Like Deion Sanders? Perfect. 5.

4. Good listener/responsive to concerns. Oh, why break old habits? 1.

5. Ability to work with diverse constituencies. Why? This is Washington County, after all. About as diverse as we get is those who prefer a .30-.30 come deer season or the group that goes with the .30-ought six. 1.

6. Ability to address conflicting goals and reach consensus. Look, Vince Lombardi didn't win two Super Bowls by asking his offensive linemen how they felt about two-a-day practices and wind sprints. 1.

7. Willingness to challenge status quo/initiate change. Here? Good luck. If you could get Friday fish-stick day changed to grilled chicken breast in the cafeteria, that might be all the change our hearts could stand. 1.

8. Experience in budget development and fiscal management. See 4 above. 1.

9. Experience in building support for public education. You might think people would think enough of education without the need for "support building," but better not chance it. 5.

10. Demonstrated record in setting high standards and improving student achievement. (Slapping myself on forehead.) Now THERE'S an idea. How come we didn't think of this one before? 5.

11. Experience in visioning, strategic planning, priority and goal setting. "Visioning." Is that like "forethoughting?" 1.

12. Knowledge of Maryland educational reforms. After all, they're working so well. Negative 20.

13. Demonstrated success in building partnerships and coalitions. Didn't No. 2 address this? Like I'm for partnerships, but I'm against teams and I'm all for forming coalitions, so long as they don't work collaboratively. 1.

14. Experience in labor negotiations and bargaining. Here we go again. Negotiate yes, bargain never. Someone's getting paid by the word.

15. Ability to develop and maintain relationships with local, state and federal officials. Relationshipping is almost as important as visioning. 5.

All right, they have all my answers, we'll just plug them into the computer here, crunch the data and take the printout and see that my perfect superintendent of Washington County Schools would be - Batman.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. You can phone him at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or e-mail him at

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