With the pending departure of public schools chief Robert Henry, Hartford is once again embarking on a search for a new schools superintendent. The importance of finding the right person for the job cannot be underestimated.
Although there is evidence that the district is inching forward, it is still among the lowest-achieving school systems in the state. Yet the state pours money into the Hartford district. Taxpayers should be getting more for this investment.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who appoints a majority of the school board members and is the board's chairman, says he's looking for an individual with proven success in an urban setting. That person must understand that the mission is to raise the bar of expectation so that a majority of students anticipate going to a four-year college after graduation.
Here are some other qualities to look for. The new superintendent should be:
An educator who knows curriculum inside and out, and for whom student achievement is a clear goal.
Someone who will hire high-quality, culturally sensitive teachers and can engage the Hartford Federation of Teachers in making the city's schools a national success story.
Someone who makes no excuses and is not afraid to weed out deadwood, naysayers and anyone else who does not believe that Hartford's children can achieve academic excellence.
Someone who won't tolerate teacher substitutes making up 10 percent of the teaching staff, and who will insist on hiring more regular teachers.
Someone who can work with an assertive mayor.
Someone who will be visible at community events and who expects teachers to create a partnering relationship with parents.
Someone who involves students in leadership.
Someone not afraid to experiment with best practices in other school systems, public and private, around the world.
And finally, someone who sees taking Harford schools up several notches to national prominence as the opportunity of a lifetime.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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