Wednesday, October 07, 2015



Posted on LA School Report |  by Mike Szymanski |


< The last o’ th’ great bubble tests? 

October 7, 2015 12:03 pm  ::  The whole world can now prioritize the characteristics necessary for LA Unified’s next superintendent through an online survey the district released last night.

The question is — as some school board members pointed out before the survey launched — why would anyone want anything less than all 21 qualities included in the survey?

With a pull-down menu in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Armenian, the survey asks respondents to rate characteristics on a scale of 5 to 1, signifying greater or lesser importance.

They include such qualities as:

  • Hold a deep understanding of the teaching/ learning process.
  • Foster a positive, professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff, and administrators.
  • Establish a culture of high expectations for all students and personnel.
  • Hold all employees accountable for their performance.

Some of these are “duh!” questions, and when the school board looked at them at its last meeting, several members said so.

George McKenna looked over the questions handed to him by the search firm on Sept. 15 and pointed out the obvious. “Why would someone not choose all fives?” he asked, with a reference to the highest rating. “I don’t know how you say no to any of these?”

Further, none of the charcteristics reflects anything specific to LA Unified, such as, “Has the political skills to balance the interests of an assertive teachers union and a well-funded state charter association.” Or, “Has the temperament to manage the diverse interests and personalities of seven bosses.”

Nor does it seek to learn if respondents want a superintendent who might stick around awhile, bringing a degree of stability to the district. Since 2000, LA Unified’s superintendent office has changed occupants six times. Long Beach Unified has had the same superintendent since 2002.

In fact, the characteristics cited on the LA Unified survey are almost the same as those in many of the other searches now underway by firm hired by the district to carry out the search, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates.

Nonetheless, board president Steve Zimmer tells respondents in an open letter , “The public will be involved in helping to shape the conversation and to provide critical input. I ask you to participate in every way that you can. Your voice as a stakeholder is very important to the Board of Education.”The survey page includes  a link to a booklet that explains how a search is carried out, and a report by HYA of what makes a successful superintendent. (Not surprising, it includes all of the characteristics in their survey.)

Board member Scott Schmerelson was insistent that the survey include a question involving the candidate’s experience as a teacher or principal, and the search firm complied, with the question: “How important is it to you for the new superintendent to have had experience as a teacher and a campus administrator?”

Hank Gmitro, president of HYA told the board that the characteristics were compiled as the best traits of a successful school superintendent. He said it was important to get input from diverse communities, and the school board members will be able to discern from the data what each district said, and how parents, students, teachers and administrators, among others, responded.

The survey also asks respondents to suggest “a good candidate for this position.”

The search firm is planning to hold community meetings at each of the six Local Districts in LAUSD and another at the district headquarters during the weeks of Oct. 19 and 26. Anyone from the public can attend any of the meetings no matter what part of the district. Not all of them have locations and times set yet.

The search firm plans to compile the surveys to allow the seven school board members to come up with the best characteristics of a new superintendent. But even that could be difficult.

“That we would all agree on the same characteristics would be a flawed assumption, given the bizarreness of one of two of us,” McKenna said. “And ultimately, this superintendent answers to us and not to all the other people answering (these surveys).”


 2cents_thumb_thumb[1][1] I’m with Dr. McKenna on this.  Sainthood and the ability to reason with idiots while walking on water would be assets in a superintendent too!

A frequent 4LAKIds correspondent rants:  “I just took this stupid survey and ripped on them in the comments section. What a joke!

"I find this survey unimpressive and almost useless. These are givens not questions that need to be asked...if it's not obvious these qualities are critical, then we are headed down the wrong path.

Questions like:

  • Does the candidate have knowledge or experience within the maze of political land mines that define LAUSD?
  • Or does the candidate have history and references that confirm their ability to communicate well with district administrators, as well as the Board, Unions and stakeholders in the district?
  • Are they a peacemaker & bridge builder, or do they create silos, fear, and walls between departments?
  • Do they have a history of exemplary leadership, or do people run the other way?
  • Are they whores to the billionaires or do they focus on the masses?"

These are questions, and there are many more, that would prompt varied and passionate responses from everyone. The questions in this survey are not options, they are requirements of any candidate for this district, which is the equivalent of a country in parts of the world."


Your Voice Counts: The Search for the Next Superintendent

  A Message from Board President Steve Zimmer


In July 2015, the Los Angeles Unified School District launched a nationwide search for a new Superintendent of Schools to replace Ramon C. Cortines, who announced over the summer that he intended to step down from his position in December.
The District chose Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in finding school district executives. The firm will aid the Los Angeles Board of Education, which oversees the Los Angeles Unified School District, in finding a new leader.

The public will be involved in helping to shape the conversation and to provide critical input. I ask you to participate in every way that you can. Your voice as a stakeholder is very important to the Board of Education.
In the coming days and weeks, I specifically encourage you to:

  • Attend the meetings. (Look in the coming days for a full schedule that will be posted on this webpage.) 
  • Complete the online survey.
  • Follow the conversation on LASchools on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Return to this page for the latest updates.

Thank you for engaging us at this important moment in the history of our school district.
Steve Zimmer
Los Angeles Board of Education

En Julio de 2015, el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles lanzó una búsqueda a nivel nacional para un nuevo Superintendente de las Escuelas que reemplazara a Ramon C. Cortines, quien durante el verano anunció que tenía la intención de dejar su puesto en diciembre.
El Distrito eligió a Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates una firma ejecutiva de búsqueda que se especializa en encontrar ejecutivos para los distritos escolares. La firma ayudará a la Junta de Educación de Los Ángeles, que supervisa al Distrito Escolar Unificado de Los Ángeles, a encontrar un nuevo líder.
El público estará involucrado en ayudar a dar forma a la conversación y proporcionar información crítica. Les pido que participen en toda manera que usted pueda. Su voz como una persona con interés es muy importante para la Junta de Educación de Los Ángeles.
En los próximos días y semanas, yo específicamente les animo a:

  • Asistir a las reuniones. (un calendario completo con fechas se publicará en los próximos días en esta página web.)
  • Llenar la encuesta en línea
  • Seguir las conversaciones en LASchools de Facebook y por Twitter en #LAUSDsuper.
  • Regresar a esta página para recibir información actualizada.
  • Gracias por estar involucrados con nosotros en este importante momento en la historia de nuestro distrito escolar.

Steve Zimmer
Junta de Educación de Los Ángeles 


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