Archives for category: Administrators, superintendents

Pennsylvania elected a Democrat as its new governor, Josh Shapiro, the former state attorney general. During his campaign against the Trumper candidate Doug Mastriano, Shapiro campaigned as a centrist Democrat and won handily. One worrisome detail is that Gov.-Elect Shapiro endorsed vouchers, despite their widespread failure and their affiliation with hardcore rightwingers. It is therefore somewhat reassuring that he selected an experienced education as the state superintendent. This article was republished by the Keystone Center for Charter Change of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Pa. is getting a new education secretary: Lower Merion superintendent Khalid Mumin

Inquirer by Kristen A. Graham, January 9, 2023

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro has named Khalid Mumin, currently superintendent of the Lower Merion School District, as his education secretary. Mumin, a Philadelphia native, has led the Montgomery County district for a little over a year. He came to Lower Merion from Reading, where he was named Pennsylvania’s Superintendent of the Year in 2021.

“During the past 15 months, I have grown to love Lower Merion, our inspiring students, exemplary staff, committed families and community members; however, Gov.-elect Shapiro has offered me a unique and exciting opportunity to reshape educational policy and practices across the Commonwealth, so all Pennsylvania students can experience the level of educational excellence our students enjoy and that all students deserve,” Mumin said in a letter to the Lower Merion community. The Secretary of Education job, he said, “was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Mumin is scheduled to be sworn in as Acting Secretary of Education on Jan. 17. “For over 25 years, I have served as a teacher, dean of students, principal, and school superintendent — and I know firsthand what it takes to move our education system forward,” Mumin said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Gov.-Elect to fully fund our schools, make our students’ mental health a priority, and empower parents and guardians to ensure their children receive a quality education.”

Click here for more.

Though he currently runs one of the state’s best-funded school systems, Mumin has extensive experience in low-wealth districts, too. Prior to working in Lower Merion, Mumin was superintendent of Reading city schools, where he worked for six years. He also served as an administrator in Maryland.

We will keep a watchful eye on Governor Shapiro, as he chooses whether to fully find the state’s public schools or to waste money on vouchers to satisfy a campaign donor.

Ron DeSantis replaced five members of the Broward School Board, and his new majority fired the district’s superintendent. An election was held, and four of his five appointees are gone. The new board reinstated the superintendent, for 90 days. Where DeSantis goes, disruption follows.

In the latest of a series of unexpected twists and turns, the Broward School Board on Tuesday handed Superintendent Vickie Cartwright her job back — at least temporarily. The eight members of the nine-member board voted 5-3 to rescind Cartwright’s Nov. 14 termination. That firing came in a late-night vote after the five members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis terminated her contract in a 5-4 vote. Four of the five are no longer on the board. The eight board members present at the School Board meeting Tuesday agreed to revisit Cartwright’s performance come Jan. 24, the deadline initially set in late October by the former board for a 90-day improvement plan by Cartwright.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article269895357.html#storylink=cpy

Ed Johnson is a systems analyst in Georgia who is a strong supporter of public schools. He has consistently criticized efforts to multiply privatized charters and charter chains in Atlanta. Much to his chagrin, the Democratic nominee for State of Education is a veteran leader of charter schools and a graduate of the Broad Academy, which is hostile to public schools. Consequently, the Georgia Association of Educators has endorsed the Republican incumbent, State Superintendent Richard Woods. Johnson says: “The BIG lie is ‘charter schools are public schools.’”

Johnson wrote a post for his regular mailing list, explaining that charter schools are not public schools. He was responding to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that profiled the two candidates—the Democrat, Alisha Searcy, and the Republican, Richard Woods.

Johnson’s critique was titled, “No, AJC, charter schools are not public schools, even if Alisha Searcy pretends they are.” Searcy is a proponent and veteran leader of charter schools.

Johnson wrote:

In profiling the candidates, AJC reports that the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is endorsing Richard Woods and suggests why GAE is doing so:


The Georgia Association of Educators is endorsing Woods, saying [school choice] policies like those [Searcy stands for] leave less money for traditional public schools. (Charter schools are publicly funded public schools governed by independent boards with government oversight.)  Her [Searcy’s] “school choice” advocacy has also rankled members of her own party.


Now, see that parenthetical statement AJC makes right after reporting that GAE is endorsing Woods?

Why would AJC do that? Why would AJC perpetuate the “Charter schools are public schools” lie?

Charter schools are not public schools, plain and simple.

Rather, charter schools are private business enterprises operating within the so-called public education industry. And that does not make them public schools.

Heck, the private business enterprises themselves have told us they are not public schools.

Take, for example, Ivy Preparatory Academy, where Alisha Searcy was, at first, Executive Director then Superintendent, so-called:


After leaving the state House, Searcy became executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academy, a network of charter schools in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. […] Searcy said her title at Ivy Prep was changed to superintendent a year or so after her hire.  She wields that in her campaign against Woods, asserting she has more leadership experience than he does.


Ivy Preparatory Academy applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of more than one-half million dollars, all the while suckling public money from DeKalb County and Gwinnett County public school districts:


IVY PREPARATORY ACADEMY (NAICS 611110)
1807 MEMORIAL DR
ATLANTA GA 30317
PPP Loan Amount: $643,603.00
Date Approved: 2020/04/14
Number of Jobs Protected: 53
PPP Loan Amount per Job: $12,143.45

Ivy Prep applied for and received a PPP loan because it was eligible to do so, as the private business enterprise it is in reality:


In order to be eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, an applicant must be a small business, sole proprietor, independent contractor, self-employed person, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or a tribal business.


Public schools were ineligible for the Paycheck Protection Program.

But charter schools were eligible.

In Atlanta, a breakdown of charter schools that applied for and received PPP loans goes like this: 

  • $4,822,200.00 to Purpose Built Schools Atlanta, Inc.
  • $4,039,752.60 to Drew Charter School, Inc.
  • $3,855,982.00 to The Kindezi Schools Atlanta, LLC
  • $1,850,000.00 to Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School, Inc.
  • $1,659,400.00 to Centennial Place Academy, Inc.
  • $1,085,420.00 to Wesley International Academy, Inc.
  • $750,400.00 to Westside Atlanta Charter School, Inc.

That comes to more than $18 million dollars ($18,063,154.60) in PPP loans that went to these charter schools.

So, here are these charter schools telling us they are private business enterprises and not public schools.

Yet, also, here is AJC saying, “Charter schools are public schools.”

One would be wise to believe the fox when it tells one it is a fox although some may choose to believe the fox is a hen.

One would be wise to not believe the “Charter schools are public schools” lie.

And one would be wise to not want to have Alisha Searcy (aka, Alisha Thomas Searcy; aka, Alisha Morgan; aka, Alisha Thomas Morgan; aka, Alisha Thomas) be Superintendent, State of Georgia.

On her campaign website, Searcy boldly and shamelessly calls attention to her charter schools track record and associations with school choice enterprises, such as EdChoice (à la Milton Friedman), Broad Superintendent Academy (à laEli Broad), and such others. See more here.

The school choice enterprises with which Searcy associates are known to be about undermining and ultimately destroying public schools, so as to then privatize and commodify them, especially when it comes to education for children labeled “Black” and other minoritized (not “minority”) children.

Thus, out of her own mouth, Alisha Searcy tells us she has not the wisdom to perceive, understand, and appreciate public schools and public education being fundamental common goods essential to the sustainment and continual advancement of democratic practice ever closer to realizing democratic ideals.

She tells us that aspects of her school choice advocacy necessarily and unavoidably begs selfishness, immediate gratification, and wanton consumerism—all attributes that, in excess, make circumstances fit for giving rise to oligarchy and such other societal dysfunctions hence the demise of democracy and civil society.

So, let’s believe Alisha Searcy when she tells us she is a far-right Republican dressed as a Democrat.

But, for Pete’s sake, do not believe, or stop believing, the “Charter schools are public schools” lie.

Moreover, let’s understand there are no such things as “traditional public schools” because that implies other types of public school exist—charter schools, specifically—and they don’t. It’s just “public schools,” so let’s just drop the qualifier “traditional,” already.

Please.
Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA | (404) 505-8176 | edwjohnson@aol.com

A comment by Diane:

Bravo for Ed Johnson for calling out the blatant hypocrisy of privately managed charter schools applying for and receiving Payroll Protection Program money that was available to private businesse , but not to public schools.

How can a “public school” receive federal money for which public schools are ineligible? They did, but doing so was hypocritical, and the Trump administration didn’t care.

If you open the last link in Johnson’s post (“see more here”), you will learn that Searcy champions high-stakes standardized testing and co-authored a teacher evaluation bill based on test scores, although she was never a teacher.

If Georgia wants to maintain public schools with elected school boards, voters should re-elect State Superintendent Richard Woods.

I first met a Broadie about 15-18 years ago, when I was attending the wedding of a friend’s daughter. I conversed with a bright, young woman for about 10 minutes, then asked her where she was working. I’d guess she was 30 years old. She replied that she was in training to be an urban superintendent. Oh, I said. Are you a principal? No, she said. How many years have you been a teacher, I asked. None, she said. So how can you be an urban superintendent, I innocently asked. “I’m learning the skills I need at the Eli Broad Urban Superintendents Academy.”

Since then, I’ve seen many Broadies come and go, some leaving a trail of destruction, deficits, and demoralization behind them.

Peter Greene reviews a recent study of the Broad Academy and its graduates. It sets out to determine what the graduated accomplished. The short answer is “not much” or “nothing” in terms of school reform. But where Broadies went, charters expanded.

The Broad Academy has been around since 2002. Founded by Eli Broad, it’s a demonstration of how the sheer force of will, when backed by a mountain of money, can cause qualifications to materialize out of nothing. The Broad Foundation (“entrepreneurship for the public good”) set the Academy up with none of the features of a legitimate education leadership graduate program, and yet Broad grads kept getting hired to plum positions around the country. And now a new study shows what, exactly, all these faux graduates accomplished.

Give Eli Broad credit– his personal story is not about being born into privilege. Working class parents. Public school. Working his way through college. Been married to the same woman for sixty years. Borrowed money from his in-laws for his first venture– building little boxes made of ticky tacky. Read this story about how he used business success and big brass balls to make himself a major player in LA. He was a scrapper; Broad called himself a “sore winner.”

Broad believed that education was in trouble, but he did not believe schools had an education problem. He believed they had a management problem–specifically, a management problem caused by not having enough managers who treated schools like businesses. The goal has been to create a pipeline for Broad-minded school leaders to move into and transform school systems from the inside, to more closely fit Broad’s vision of how a school system should work.

Through a residency program, Broad often sweetens the pot by paying the salary of these managers, making them a free gift to the district. A 2012 memo indicated a desire to create a group of influential leaders who could “accelerate the pace of reform.” And Broad maintained some control over his stable of faux supers. In one notable example, John Covington quit his superintendent position in Kansas abruptly, leaving stunned school leaders. Not until five years later did they learn the truth; Eli Broad had called from Spain and told Covington to take a new job in Detroit.

Broad did not particularly believe that public schools could be reformed, with his vision of privatization becoming ever more explicit (leading to the 2015 plan to simply take over LAUSD schools). The Broad Academy offered an actual manual for how to close schools in order to trim budgets. The process was simple enough, and many folks will recognize it:

1) Starve school by shutting off resources
2) Declare that schools is failing (Try to look shocked/surprised)
3) Close school, shunt students to charterland

Anecdotally, the record for Broad Faux Supers is not great. Robert Bobb had a lackluster showing in Detroit. Jean-Claude Brizard received a 95% no-confidence vote from Rochester teachers, then went on to a disastrous term of office in Chicago. Oakland, CA, has seen a string of Broad superintendents, all with a short and unhappy tenure. Christopher Cerf created a steady drumbeat of controversy in New Jersey. Chris Barbic was put in charge of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, and resigned with all of his goals unfulfilled(and recommended another Broad grad as his replacement). John Deasy’s time at LA schools ended with a hugely expensive technology failure, and he’s been bouncing from failure to failure ever since..

But now a trio of researchers takes us beyond the anecdotal record. Thomas Dee (Stanford), Susanna Loeb (Brown) and Ying Shi (Syracuse) have produced “Public Sector Leadership and Philanthropy: The Case of Broad Superintendents.”

The paper starts with some history of Broad Academy, and places it in the framework of venture philanthropy, the sort of philanthropy that doesn’t just write a check, but stays engaged and demands to see data-defined results. The we start breaking down information about the Broad supers.

The Academy members themselves. They are way more diverse than the general pool of superintendents, so that’s a good thing. Slightly more than half of academy participants and about two-thirds of the Broad-trained superintendents have some teaching experience. This is way lower than actual school superintendents, and probably even lower because I will bet you dollars to donuts that the bulk of that “teaching experience” is a couple of years as a Teach for America tourist passing through a classroom so that they can stamp “teacher” on their CV like an exotic country stamped on a passport. On the other hand, one in five Broadies has experience in the military.

Open the link and read on. I can think of a few Broadies who created chaos and left deficits and demoralization behind as they left.

A new study confirms what many critics of the Broad Foundation’s Superintendents’ Academy long suspected. Despite Eli Broad’s boasting, his program had no positive effects on student performance, but the “graduates” expanded privatization by charter schools.

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis

Month 202X, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1 –27

DOI: 10.3102/01623737221113575

https://doi.org/10.3102/016237372211135

 

Public-Sector Leadership and Philanthropy: The Case of Broad Superintendents

Thomas S. Dee

Stanford University

Susanna Loeb

Brown University

Ying Shi

Syracuse University

 

Using a unique panel data set on the 300 larg-est school districts, we examined the impact of Broad superintendents on a broad array of dis-trict outcomes. Our results indicate that the hir-ing of a Broad superintendent had no clear effects on outcomes such as student completion rates, enrollment, the closure of traditional public schools, and per-pupil spending on instruction or on support services. However, one exception to this pattern is particularly notable. We do find evidence that the hiring of a Broad superinten-dent results in a growing charter school sector. Specifically, we find that the hiring of Broad superintendents is associated with a trend toward increased charter school enrollment and a growth in the number of charter schools that extends beyond the short tenure of the typical Broad trainee.

We view the overall implications of these findings as nuanced. On the one hand, this Broad Foundation initiative was successful in placing new leaders with distinctive characteristics and training in a substantial number of U.S. school districts. Yet, we also find that these leaders had unusually short tenures and no clear effects on a variety of district outcomes.

Lisa Haver is a retired teacher and prominent advocate for the public schools of Philadelphia. Those public schools have been subject to state takeover, privatization, and every other failed reformy tactic. She hoped that those bad old days were over. They are not. The new board hired an inexperienced superintendent who needed the help of a much-criticized consulting firm at a cost of $450,000.

She expressed her frustration in this article.

After years of pain and frustration that included the closing of neighborhood schools, privatization driven by standardized tests, crumbling infrastructure, and more than one debacle, the people of Philadelphia were psyched for new leadership in the school district.

The door to new priorities seemed to open with the arrival of Tony Watlington as the next superintendent.

But that door slammed shut before his tenure had even begun with the news that he’d brought in a Tennessee-based consulting firm to help him navigate his first year in the job. In May, the Board of Education voted unanimously and without deliberation to approve a one-year contract with Joseph & Associates. Price tag: $450,000. The board approved this contract — the last on a list of 92 official items — near the end of an 8-hour meeting.

According to a recent Chalkbeat article, the board hired the consulting firm to help Watlington “connect with people,” assist in assembling his transition team, and develop a 5-year plan for the district. Watlington said he asked for the contract so he could “hit the ground running by Day 1,” according to The Inquirer.

Apparently, Watlington decided the district’s current leadership of 16 department chiefs and 15 assistant superintendents could not help him do that, and that people from Tennessee could educate him about the district’s history and needs better than the people who live and work in Philly.

The Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, the organization I co-founded, has reported on and analyzed the spending priorities of the district since 2012. We intended to ask the board directly why they hired Joseph & Associates, but all five APPS members who tried to sign up to speak at the June meeting were denied.

Last winter, in public town halls held for the three superintendent finalists, Watlington told parents, students, and educators he had a plan and wanted to meet with district stakeholders to hear their concerns. He didn’t say he could only do that by hiring an out-of-town consulting firm at a price higher than his own $340,000 salary.

The first official act of the new administration signals a continuation of those before him: hiring consultants and outsourcing work that should be done by district personnel. Sending resources into classrooms remains on the back burner.

The scope of the Joseph & Associates contract raises concerns for families and public education advocates for a number of reasons. Watlington said he wants the consultants to help him assess how the district can best meet the board’s “Goals and Guardrails” — a set of priorities based on standardized test data. This approach does not lend itself to creative learning or teaching. The Watlington administration should commit to funding proven reforms: smaller class size, more support staff, and reinstating school librarians.

But it’s the final phase of the Joseph & Associates contract that should sound the alarm for defenders of public education: the compilation of a 5-year “strategic plan” for the district. Many recall what happened a decade ago after the last long-range plan from an outside firm, the Boston Consulting Group: school closings and more privatization of neighborhood schools. Any plan that determines the future of the district and its ramifications for families and neighborhoods should be discussed and formulated in public meetings — not the private boardrooms of an out-of-state consulting firm.

Amy Frogge was president of the Nashville Board of Education. She is a public school parent and a lawyer. She heard that Philadelphia had hired a new superintendent and was paying $450,000 to a consulting firm to train the new superintendent. When she learned that the consulting firm was led by the former superintendent in Nashville, she wrote a letter of warning to the Philadelphia board. They ignored it. She decided to write one more letter, to be sure the Philadelphia board was fully informed. Now, it’s their problem.

From: Amy Frogge <amymfrogge@yahoo.com>

To: jwilkerson@philasd.org <jwilkerson@philasd.org>; lehinton@philasd.org <lehinton@philasd.org>; jdanzy@philasd.org <jdanzy@philasd.org>; mfixlopez@philasd.org <mfixlopez@philasd.org>; lsalley@philasd.org <lsalley@philasd.org>; cethompson@philasd.org <cethompson@philasd.org>; schoolboard@philasd.org <schoolboard@philasd.org>

Sent: Friday, July 1, 2022, 10:56:51 AM CDT

Subject: Joseph and Associates: A concise summary of what you are paying for in Philadelphia (with documentation).

Hi, everyone-

I hope this will be my last email to your board.

I’ve been sharing a lot of information on Twitter about the disaster that hit Nashville under Shawn Joseph’s leadership, but it appears that at least some of you are not active on Twitter. I want to make sure that you are fully apprised of what happened in Nashville as you move forward.

Here’s what happened in Nashville under Shawn Joseph’s leadership (with articles for your review as proof of my allegations):

1. The number of priority (low performing) schools nearly doubled. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/metro-schools/number-of-troubled-nashville-schools-shows-dramatic-increase

2. We paid out millions upon millions in sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuits. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/new-settlements-put-mnps-sexual-harassment-bills-near-2-million (The $2 million mentioned in this article was not the final tally; the cost continued to increase.)

3. We had major and ongoing problems with no-bid contracts for preferred vendors (costing millions), sometimes even for services that went unused. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/what-did-mnps-get-for-1-million-potentially-not-much

4. Joseph and his team broke the law and misled the school board to put these contracts in place. https://www.kshb.com/news/national/nashville-schools-investigation-by-wtvf-contracts-law

5. We had an independent HR report done that identified an employee morale crisis, cronyism and “unconscionable” practices. https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/mnps-faces-morale-crisis-confidential-report-warns

6. Here’s what an award-winning HR executive had to say: https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/metro-schools/former-mnps-administrator-its-almost-as-if-isis-took-over-hr

7. Another respected Metro Nashville Schools employee on the HR problems:https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/metro-schools/administrator-accuses-mnps-of-pay-discrimination-retaliation

8. Dr. Joseph brought former Baltimore superintendent Dallas Dance, whom he claimed as a mentor, to Nashville to serve as a member of his Transition Team. Months later Dance was indicted on charges related to kickbacks on no-bid contracts. He went to prison. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/former-baltimore-county-superintendent-pleads-guilty-to-perjury-tied-to-kickback-scheme/2018/03

9. Around the time Joseph left Nashville, the state of TN recommended suspending Joseph’s professional educator’s license, which was required in his position as superintendent. https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2019/03/26/state-education-board-seeks-disciplinary-action-against-nashville-schools-chief-shawn-joseph/3279612002/

10. Joseph’s license to work in Tennessee was later suspended. (Per the General Counsel for the Tennessee State Board of Education (via email): “Mr. Joseph’s license was previously suspended.”)

11. There was a lot more, too much to include in this thread, but this gives you a flavor: https://www.newschannel5.com/news/newschannel-5-investigates/what-you-need-to-know-about-shawn-josephs-controversies

12. Here’s some information on the national angle (that mentions Joseph): https://www.alternet.org/2019/09/another-school-leadership-disaster-private-companies-work-an-insider-game-to-reap-lucrative-contracts/

13. And this (also mentions Joseph): https://www.salon.com/2019/10/20/how-billionaire-charter-school-funders-corrupted-the-school-leadership-pipeline_partner/

After reading all of this, do you still think Tony Watlington needs advice from Shawn Joseph? I hope this dispels any questions about whether what you are hearing is misinformation.

As you can see, if you continue to move forward with Joseph and Associates, the $450,000 will be just the tip of the iceberg on spending.

Three Nashville school board members have now spoken with the media to warn Philadelphia against the use of Joseph and Associates. Any of us — and many more from Nashville — would be happy to share more about our experiences with you.

Philadelphia’s children are counting on you, and they deserve so much better. I wish you all the best of luck.

Amy Frogge, former Chair of the Nashville school board

The Philadelphia School Board hired an inexperienced school superintendent, then signed a contract to pay $450,000 to a firm to train the new superintendent. Former Nashville school board member Amy Frogge wrote an open letter to the Philadelphia school board, warning about the track record and failures of the consultant they hired.

The Philadelphia Inquirer published this editorial.

From the start, questions surrounded new Philadelphia School Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr.’s readiness for one of the toughest and most important jobs in the city.

Watlington only had a little over a year of experienceas a superintendent at the Rowan-Salisbury School System, a small suburban district in North Carolina.

With 114,000 students, the Philadelphia School District is more than five times the size of Rowan-Salisbury’s 18,200 students. Philadelphia’s $3.9 billion school budget dwarfs Rowan-Salisbury’s $191 million.

Watlington spent his career in North Carolina, a right-to-work state with nonunion schools. But Philadelphia is an entrenched union city and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is known for driving hard bargains and challenging major reforms.

Now comes word that the School District hired a group of consultants to essentially help Watlington do a job for which he is paid $340,000 a year. In turn, 10 consultants are getting an eye-popping $450,000 to support Watlington and “ensure a smooth leadership transition as he begins his tenure.”

That’s some high-priced hand-holding. It is also an ominous start for Watlington, which signals he may not be ready for the big time.

More troubling, one of the lead consultants — the Tennessee-based firm Joseph & Associates — comes with a trail of controversy. The firm’s founder, Shawn Joseph, served as the superintendent of the Metro Nashville public school system for less than three years before the school board bought out his contract in 2019.

During Joseph’s tenure in Nashville, questions were raised about costlyno-bid contracts, his use of a school bus driver as his chauffeur, and a school maintenance employee doing work at Joseph’s home. After Joseph left, Tennessee education officials recommended suspending his state license for one year.

After hearing about Joseph’s consulting contract, a former Nashville school board member wrote a letter to Philadelphia school officials saying she was “deeply disturbed” by the contract and warned the district about Joseph.

Joseph’s consulting contract with the Philadelphia School District calls for him to help Watlington execute “a 100-day entry plan,” which will include a listening and learning tour of Philadelphia. So, the guy from Tennessee is going to help the guy from North Carolina find his way around Philly.

Phase two of the contract calls for Joseph’s firm to help Watlington develop and implement “a transition team process informed by the quantitative and qualitative data gathered” during the listening tour.

“So, the guy from Tennessee is going to help the guy from North Carolina find his way around Philly.”

Phase three of the contract calls for Joseph’s firm to help Watlington develop a five-year strategic plan that “will serve as the district’s road map to achieve the goals and guardrails.”

That’s all well and good, but the three-step plan amounts to little more than the basic tasks of any incoming superintendent. The existing staff at the School District should be able to show Watlington around Philadelphia and his executive team can help develop a five-year plan.

Watlington defended the $450,000 consulting contract, but it still sounds like a giant waste of taxpayers’ money. The School District should look to end this contract immediately. If Philadelphia is serious about improving educational outcomes of students, it should look to Washington, D.C., which has made impressive gains in student test scores largely by improving the quality of teachers.

If Watlington wants Joseph’s help, he can read Joseph’s book titled “The Principal’s Guide to the First 100 Days of the School Year: Creating Instructional Momentum.” It’s available on Amazon for $29.95. That’s a better deal than the $450,000 consulting contract.

By all accounts, Watlington comes across as a dedicated educator. But the Philadelphia School District needs a dynamic leader with a track record of success who can hit the ground running. Not one who requires an overpriced consultant to perform on-the-job training.

South Carolina’s public schools, teachers, and students are in for some tough times. Republicans went to the polls and selected a rightwing ideologue as their candidate for state superintendent. Ellen Weaver does not have the master’s degree that state law requires the state chief to have. She has signed up to get a master’s in “Christian Leadership” at Bob Jones University and expects to get her degree in eight months.

Weaver has made her hostility to public schools and professional teachers clear. She (and the SC media) refer to education professionals as “the education establishment.”

Ellen Weaver, president and CEO of the Palmetto Promise Institute, handily defeated teachers advocate Kathy Maness in Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff, a development with potentially major implications for the state’s public schools…

Weaver, who does not currently meet the statutory requirements to hold officebecause she lacks an advanced degree, has cast herself as a bold reformer fighting to eradicate liberal ideologies like so-called critical race theory that she claims are seeping into public education.

“The fight to save our schools is a fight to save that American dream for the next generation,” she said at a debate last week. “If we don’t stand in the gap for our kids and against the wokeism and sexualization agendas that are coming out of Washington, we have lost our country.”

Weaver will face Democrat Lisa Ellis, a Richland 2 teacher and student activities director, in the general election. Ellis, who is best known for founding the grassroots teachers organization SC for Ed, won the Democratic primary outright earlier this month.

Weaver refers to a master’s degree as “letters behind your name.” Presumably, at a better time, when politicians weren’t putting a wrecking ball to public education, they set that qualification there to assure that the state superintendent was an experienced educator, not an ideologue who is contemptuous of the state’s most important public institution.

Sadly, South Carolina got the kind of leader that the law was supposed to bar. Teachers are upset about what happens next, as well they should be.

South Carolina needs a leader who will fight for more funding, especially for its most vulnerable children. If Weaver beats her Democratic opponent, the state will have a leader who dabbles in nonsense about race and gender instead of improving the schools.

If you are a parent, a teacher, or a concerned citizen, help elect Lisa Ellis. She’s a teacher, she has experience, she knows what students need and will fight for it.

The Boston Public School board selected a new superintendent. She is Mary Skipper, who has had many years of teaching experience in Boston and is currently superintendent of the Somerville, Mass., district.

Currently the head of Somerville Public Schools, Skipper will take over at a crucial juncture for Boston, which only days ago fended off a state takeover by agreeing to a long list of improvements that she will now be charged with seeing through. She narrowly edged out the other finalist, BPS regional superintendent Tommy Welch, in a 4-3 vote.

The 55-year-old Skipper previously worked in Boston for nearly two decades, teaching Latin at Boston Latin Academy before working her way from principal to district administrator overseeing three dozen high schools. She earned a reputation for innovations at a high school she previously led. A decade ago, then-president Barack Obama held up Skipper’s school, TechBoston Academy, as a national model when he delivered a speech there.

She’s been superintendent of the roughly 4,700-student Somerville district since 2015.

Skipper was not available for comment after the vote. But she previously has said that teachers were surrogate parents to her, playing a deep role in her life, so she felt teaching was something she needed to do.

The job she’s stepping into has already been largely redefined by an agreement finalized this week between Mayor Michelle Wu and state Education Commissioner Jeff Riley, who had threatened to label the district as “underperforming.” In exchange for maintaining autonomy and the district’s reputation, Skipper will have to carry out a long list of mandates from a district improvement plan agreed upon Monday that aims to overhaul special education, services for English learners, and transportation, among other things…

Skipper’s selection could carry some risk for the district, since she’s not available to take over full time in Boston until late September, after the deadline for completing 10 of 24 action steps required by the joint agreement for improving Boston’s schools…

Skipper will also have to overcome frustration from some community members that the superintendent search did not yield Black or Latino finalists. Civil rights leaders and education advocates called on district leaders to halt the vote or extend the process after the search committee presented only two finalists; Skipper is white and Welch is an Asian American.

Two other would-be finalists, a Black woman and a Latina, withdrew before the list was finalized and made public. The panel overseeing the search selected Skipper and Welch from a field of 34 applicants.