Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has launched a Superintendent Search Committee in hopes of finding the best possible candidate in the nation to lead the Boston Public Schools.
The search committee includes individuals who represent all aspects of the school system, from former and current teachers to administrators and businessmen. A national search firm will assist in the process and the committee will hold meetings with the community to get public input on what the superintendent position will entail. The committee will then recommend three finalists who will then be interviewed by the school committee and the mayor.
“The selection of a permanent school superintendent will be our community’s most important decision,” Walsh said in theThursday release. “This Search Committee represents every facet of education, from elementary school to college, from parents to teachers to administrators. With their broad knowledge base and vast experience, I know they will work diligently to search every corner of the United States to help the Boston School Committee make the best possible choice for our students.”
The Superintendent Search Committee will be co-led by Hardin Coleman and Robert Gallery. Coleman has 40 years of experience in the BPS system, serving as a teacher in elementary, middle and high school as well as a school counselor in middle and high schools. Currently, he is a professor of human counseling and development and dean of the School of Education at Boston University.
“Leadership is critical to keeping an organization focused on its core mission, hiring and promoting high quality staff who can effectively implement the mission, find the resources the organization needs to prosper, and communicate the mission of the organization to the various stakeholders,” Coleman said.
Finding an excellent superintendent is not only vital to the school system but to the economy and to the future of the city of Boston, he said.
“One of the biggest challenges to our economy is raising the academic accomplishment of our students in urban school settings,” he said. “A high quality superintendent is critical to helping Boston continue the improvements it has made over the past 15 years in creating the highest performing urban school district in the country.”
Coleman praised BPS for the strides it has made in recent years, and said a strong leader is needed for continual improvement.
“All of us who are close to the District believe that it is doing an outstanding job but can get much better,” he said. “We believe that this is an excellent opportunity for the highly effective educational leader to join a community that is dedicated to closing the achievement gap between ethnically and economically diverse students and then closing the performance gap between Boston Public Schools and the rest of Massachusetts.”
Some residents said they have ideas about what issues they need the future superintendent to focus on.
“[The superintendent] needs to be someone who will give attention to kids with special needs,” said Bruna Lobato, 22, of Brighton. “They also need to have cultural sensitivity for kids who have a different first language or are ethnically diverse.”
Tim Severo, 26, of Back Bay, said public schools should give more focus to applicable skills for the region rather than a curriculum given to schools across all different regions.
“The common core needs to be addressed very seriously,” he said. “They need to localize education, train students with skills that are needed for jobs in the area instead of a generalized education. We need to realize that most people are going to settle in the region, not have grand luxurious international jobs.”
Kim Clarke, 55, of Boston, said there are a countless amount of issues within the school system, which would make the superintendent’s job a tough one.
“I’m disappointed with teachers’ unions because they’ve brought down the quality of teaching,” she said. “Teachers are often more invested in their own gain rather in the interests of the children, and parents these days don’t have the money or time to devote to their children’s education. The superintendent will need to find a balance, and figure out how to engage parents and also bring in and keep quality teachers, possibly abolishing tenure.”