Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Next CMS leader: Lots of public opinion

Cleaning out paper files for a recent desk shuffle,  I came across reports from the 2005-06 superintendent search that led to Peter Gorman's hiring.  At that time,  Ray and Associates search firm posted an online survey asking people to rate the most important superintendent qualities,  choosing from a list of 32.  They got 2,210 responses,  plus those from  "more than 120 people"  who attended various public meetings in December 2005.

This time around,  the school board and its new firm,  PROACT Search,  will have far more public opinion to work with.  The online survey created by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute got responses from just over 8,800 adults before it closed at midnight Monday,  and more than 500 high school students completed a slightly shorter version.  It's a far more extensive questionnaire,  asking people to rank the most important issues facing CMS and several aspects of what they'd like to see in the leader who succeeds Gorman in 2012.

There's still room to debate the questions,  though.  Gary Pender,  who describes himself as a parent who pulled his kids out because of  "the ridiculous standardized testing CMS instituted last year,"  wonders why neither performance pay nor testing was among the 19 options for top issues  (for those who remain concerned about those issues,  which sparked so much controversy,  "teacher evaluations"  is the closest choice).

"Either the survey is just poorly put together or CMS (or its vendor) has rigged it because this is a phony effort to make it seem like the board wants feedback or suggestions from the community,"  Pender wrote.  "Either way, it makes CMS look bad."

The survey was compiled by the Urban Institute,  with consultation from representatives of other local universities.  Results will be presented at a series of public forums on the superintendent search, slated for the first week of December (no details are set).   "Once the results are made public,  we’ll be making ourselves available as the researchers to answer any questions that anyone has about the data," said Jeff Michael, director of the Urban Institute.  

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