Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

A broad net to find a superintendent

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One of the most important decisions a school board makes is the selection of superintendent. School trustees have an ethical and legal fiduciary responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the organization and its mission. The requirements for the Clark County School District superintendent are significant, especially in view of current outcomes, such as:

• Current CCSD graduation rate is 61 percent versus over 75 percent nationally.

• Nevada is last in the country for ninth graders who will attend college after graduating.

• Only 32.2 percent of CCSD sophomores passed the math proficiency test on their first try, a decline of 20.2 percent from previous year.

These numbers demand comprehensive and decisive actions by the CCSD trustees, starting with conducting a national search process, including local candidates, to identify the very best person for the job.

A national search allows trustees — and all of us — to know the new superintendent is the best qualified person for the job.

Some are expressing hesitation about a national search, concerned about too much change or adjusting to someone new. Yet, reverting back to the status quo because it is comfortable will not help our kids succeed. Selecting a superintendent based on familiarity, rather than data and proven results, is shirking our responsibility to the future.

I strongly urge the CCSD trustees to fulfill their responsibility and conduct a comprehensive national search for superintendent and embrace effective change that meets the needs of our great community.

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  1. Excellent letter

    What is the delay?

    Get on with it

  2. The passing score for the math proficiency exam was raised this year to 300. Last year, which is what it is being compared to the passing score was 242. Do you think that might explain why the number of sophomores passing went down.

    Under the AYP system of evaluation which is no longer being used, the class that was used to determine the AYP evaluation for test scores was juniors.

  3. Letter writer is correct. The search for the best and brightest Super should have been long on its way by now. CCSD is approaching the tipping point when an out of city/county/State Super won't be available in the fall if the position is offered.

    Carmine D

  4. Las Vegas Sun Commenter Tanker1975 would like you to keep in mind the following please, and I quote,
    "
    The passing score for the math proficiency exam was raised this year to 300. Last year, which is what it is being compared to the passing score was 242. Do you think that might explain why the number of sophomores passing went down.

    Under the AYP system of evaluation which is no longer being used, the class that was used to determine the AYP evaluation for test scores was juniors."

    The passing score goal posts have been MOVED, once again folks! It is a little fact that has a big impact.

    Every time an institution changes, it takes time to RETOOL those in production. That fact seems to be lost on many.

    Could someone please cite even ONE example of a CCSD Superintendent hired from a "broad, national search," that has been highly successful in the high level achievement and social levels of our student population! Is there such an animal?

    We are living through the results of several CCSD Superintendents in the past decade, so please tell me how that all is going.

    If any watch international television presently, the trend in education seems to be pointing towards collapse. Due to "societal changes" young people relate to their parents and to their teachers much differently today than yesteryear. This suggests that we all need to dig a little into needed changes so that today's educational system here and throughout the world, are best meeting the needs of students everywhere.

    To say we are going to "fix" a problem with a new, improved, more global Superintendent is like yet again, putting a bandaid on a mortal wound that is profusely gushing blood.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  5. The lack of clarity in what is being taught, why it is being taught and the standards for being a productive contributor to society is appalling.

    Moving the benchmark goal posts - really

    We need the kind of consistency and standards that MOOC courses would provide. Coursera is a leader. we need to meet national standards because Nevada can not make it up themselves.

  6. Paying more for a super has been of zero benefit for the CCSD. My daughter graduated 3 years ago and for her last 4 years I asked her every semester and she told me every year the number of "teachers" she had who actually conducted a class was below 50%. Most teachers do not do much more than hand out assignments, which can also be done by an online school.Until the real problem is fixed and even addressed we need not waste money on these glorified executives.

  7. I'd go even further than Star and ask for a list of successful superintendents in any big city district found after a star-studded national search. Few if any is my guess. The money these days is not in leading a district, it is in consulting to a district. Any large enterprise is usually best served by grooming leadership and promoting from within. You have only to look at HP to see the disastrous results which occur when looking for a miracle worker.

  8. "Ken Guinn was born in Garland, Ark., raised in Exeter, Calif., as the son of migrant fruit pickers. He once lived in a tin shack and attended almost 30 schools as his parents followed the crops.

    He won a college football scholarship and received bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education from California's Fresno State University. He received a doctorate in education from Utah State University in 1970. He taught in Fresno and San Jose while doing graduate work at Stanford University.

    He moved to Las Vegas in 1964, starting as a planning specialist for the Clark County School District. In 1969, he was named superintendent of schools. He left the district in 1978 to join Nevada Savings and Loan. He later became bank chairman, president and chairman of Southwest Gas, and interim president at UNLV."

    A Democrat turned Republican.

    Carmine D

  9. With the recent resignations of state superintendent Jim Guthrie, along with CCSD superintendent Dwight Jones.It seems we have bigger problems then we the public are aware of.

    If we keep hiring the best and the brightest superintendents in the country and they give what they think are good ideas of how to bring about reform in the CCSD, and these reforms are rejected,then something else is the problem.

    We can search the world over for the next CCSD superintendent. If it turns out that we are not willing to listen to their reform suggestions, and also act on them, then why bother to keep looking for a new superintendent.Its time to wake up and start listening to what the real problems are,and make changes that will get us on top.

    Having the lowest test scores and graduation rates in the nation is not acceptable.

  10. The letter-writer pointed out few of CCSD's immediate problems. They are all focused on student achievement.

    Once again let me point out that increased student achievement does NOT come from the top. It comes from the very student themselves: Their motivation to learn, the relevance of content, and the quality of instruction. No superintendent can deliver that regardless of his/her glowing resume.

    Motivation to learn is set since infancy. This is the province of the parents. Absence of parental guidance as one of the causes of student failures cannot be minimized, however it can mitigated by a dedicated teacher.

    The relevance of content is set by the state. The recent adoption of the Core Curriculum Standards is supposed to address this issue. It has been only two years since its roll out and we have no solid proof yet that it is helping. We shall see.

    The quality of instruction is the only one in which student achievement can be greatly mitigated. It is also something that does not require a five-star superintendent to accomplish. Each school administrator can accomplish this with the right leadership skills.