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Is the Superintendent of Schools Like a Football Coach — Is the Most Important Issue Winning?

Questions arise as we look from the outside into the process of the Board of Education evaluating the superintendent's performance.

The process is well laid out as to how the education system works in our county. We have an elected school board charged with the responsibility of overseeing the work of the superintendent of schools and other personnel in the school system.

The people of Barrow County have the opportunity in each election to select the people who have offered to run for the various open seats on the school board. It is assumed, at least by me, that none of the elected school board members hold the qualifications to actually be the superintendent of schools but have the role of evaluating and supervising the overall work of the school district. It is true that one of the members of the elected school board once served as the superintendent of schools; the other members of the board all bring different gifts and abilities to their roles as elected members of the BOE.

This being said, questions arise as we look from the outside into this process. Is too much pressure being placed on the superintendent of schools to produce higher scores in the teaching and learning process in our school district? Is the superintendent of schools somewhat like a football coach, in that the most important issue is winning?

The demand to improve and have documented evidence that test scores are higher than in previous years is always looming over the heads of educators. We all know the infamous cheating scandal from the Atlanta school district a couple of years ago. The motivation was simply to show higher test scores on standardized tests, no matter how the scores were achieved. Albeit, in every part of the business world we look for improvement in performance when compared to the past years productivity, but is that a fair assessment when looking at the job performance of an educator? There are so many variables when dealing with the education of others. Each class of students is different. There is not a one-size-fits-all education model. Each class, teacher and learning process is different. In our world of demand for instant change and with the advances in technology, we are becoming less tolerant when we look for advancement.

An elder friend has a favorite saying, “I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got to do with.” The sentence is grammatically incorrect but you get the point. Are we expecting too much from our school system from the classroom to the central office? Will the excuse of unfunded mandates explain the low morale? Will the fact that we start with a raw unknown quantity — the new student’s ability to learn — as a reason that test scores are not going up as much as we would like? We also wonder if the issue is test scores, performance or personal preference when it comes to evaluating the job of the superintendent of schools. 

From where I stand our future as a school district and the student’s future depend on getting this right.

Are you satisfied with the BOE evaluating the superintendent of schools? Tell us in comments. 

Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.

Parent In Barrow August 27, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I think the BOE should talk to Teachers, Parents and Staff before renewing her contract. They represent the people of their District so they should really listen to how they feel.
Barrow Mom August 27, 2012 at 10:43 PM
I whole-heartedly agree with 'Parent in Barrow'. As a parent first, and then an employee of the BCSS, I do not feel that the 6 board members who voted for her contract extension were representing the will of their constituents AT ALL!!!!! To these 6 board members, I say, "Shame on you!" Have you turned a blind eye to the mass exodus of BCSS employees? I would suggest that you actually seek out the opinions of your constituents. Don't just wait on them to come to you. Employees, like myself, are terrified to speak out for fear of retribution. We have no recourse. But parents - you do!!! Please contact your BOE rep if you are disatisfied

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