Search openly

Is there really a debate about whether or not we should conduct a search for a new HISD Superintendent in an open manner? Because I think the choice is clear.

The Greater Houston Partnership, which represents the business community, is lobbying the school board to introduce a few leading contenders to the public — something the board hasn’t done in a search in nearly two decades.

“There are challenges to transparency, but the payout is huge,” said Jeff Moseley, president and chief executive of the business partnership.

[HISD President] Marshall said he supports naming multiple finalists — perhaps three — but not all his colleagues have been as quick to embrace the idea. Some worry fewer people will apply for the job if word of their job search will get back to their current school boards.

“I just think we need to stop using that as an excuse if we really and truly believe in transparency,” Marshall said. “Good superintendents can sit down with their boards and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity.’ I don’t think they add value to their candidacy by insisting on secrecy.”

Trustee Manuel Rodriguez Jr., on the other hand, prefers naming only one finalist.

“If the Greater Houston Partnership wants to know the candidates, they ought to run for school board,” he said. “By releasing the names of candidates, we put those candidates in jeopardy of losing their own jobs.”

Sorry, but I am unimpressed by Trustee Rodriguez’s argument here. Hell, college and pro coaches get vetted for other jobs all the time, usually with the knowledge and blessing of their current employer. Smaller programs generally consider it to be a positive when the bigger ones interview their coaches, because it’s a sign that they’re doing something right, and because being a place that provides opportunities for advancement is in itself a lure for good employees. I just don’t see the downside here.

And if that wasn’t enough, this would more than clinch it for me:

During the 2004 search that resulted in [Superintendent Abe] Saavedra’s hiring, board members conducted late-night interviews that ended with the candidates being hurried out of the administration building and into waiting cars. Extra HISD police officers were brought in to help keep track of reporters trying to catch a glimpse of the contenders.

In Florida, one of the most open states when it comes to superintendent searches, the names of all applicants are public record, and the community is allowed to attend meetings where school boards interview candidates.

Which one of these processes sounds healthier and more likely to produce a positive result? Seriously, this is an easy call.

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  1. Pingback: The secret Superintendent search – Off the Kuff

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