San Diego school trustees approved new criteria for the superintendent search this afternoon, making revisions to the standards used to select outgoing Superintendent Carl Cohn.

Here’s what’s new in what they’re looking for:

An educator who believes that:

  • Learning is the primary focus of public education, and school districts should partner with charter and private schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions to ensure that appropriate life long learning opportunities are available for everyone.
  • Parents must be partners in the education of their children, and schools should reach out to parents in a family friendly manner.
  • Visibility in the schools and community is essential to the success of both the District and the Superintendent.

The latter is a reflection of Cohn’s relatively low-key tenure, which some business leaders consulted by the board said wasn’t sufficiently visible.

Other additions to what’s desired:

A leader who has demonstrated the ability to:

  • Accept accountability, establish high expectations, delegate effectively and provide support as necessary.
  • Analyze and use a variety of assessment data, in addition to test scores, in making informed decisions.
  • Build strong and active local support for the schools and school matters.
  • Embrace and celebrate diversity.
  • Empower others to assume leadership responsibilities in achieving District priorities.
  • Think proactively, being able to anticipate situations, as well as the consequences of policy and management decisions.
  • Utilize technology as a tool for improving teaching and learning, and understands the potential of technology to transform how children will learn in the future.

Here’s what’s changed:

Successful experience as a superintendent is required, successful experience as a teacher and principal and an earned doctorate from an accredited university are preferred and the ability to speak Spanish is desirable.

Past criteria required a superintendent candidate to have experiences as a teacher and principal as well. The change caused a minor dust-up at Monday’s meeting, where trustee Sheila Jackson voted against the new criteria because of the change, saying the public had pushed for someone with experience in the schools.

Most other criteria are the same: Addressing the achievement gap, working collaboratively with employees, courage, empathy, etc.

Much of the public discussion centered on semantics — moving some bullet points up, adding punctuation, substituting one phrase for another — leading board president Luis Acle to exclaim, “This is ridiculous. … Here we are, micromanaging our consultant and telling them what way to word something.”

Still, trustees pulled together for the next agenda item, reviewing the district’s response to the wildfires. Cohn called the schools’ emergency efforts “extraordinary,” and lauded staff for “putting aside egos, turf and silos.”


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