D65 superintendent finalist withdraws his candidacy

Nathan McCann, superintendent of schools in Altar Valley, Ariz., has withdrawn his application for the job of superintendent of Evanston/Skokie District 65 schools, as he has accepted another position in Washington State.

Board President Tracy Quattrocki made the announcement Sunday evening by email.

The Ridgefield (Wash.) Columbian newspaper reported over the weekend that the Ridgefield School Board voted Friday morning to hire McCann and that he will start there on July 1.

Ridgefield is a small community of about 5,000 inhabitants located near the Washington-Oregon border, about 155 miles south of Seattle and about 25 miles north of Portland, Ore.

Even though Ridgefield’s student population is about 2,200 students in four schools—considerably smaller than District 65’s nearly 7,000 students—it is still three times the size of Altar Valley, which has some 600-700 students.

Primarily because of the small size of his Arizona district, compared to Evanston, McCann was considered a long shot for the Evanston job, even though he was one of five finalists out of a field of nearly 60 applicants for the position.

At a forum in Ridgefield similar to the one at which he spoke in Evanston, McCann told his audience that he wanted to move to Ridgefield with his wife and children because it has excellent schools and he likes the small-town feel of the community, according to the Columbian.

When he spoke in Evanston last Tuesday evening, McCann said he "can't think of a better place to raise my kids" than Evanston.

Comments

Clarification

Perhaps Mr Bartling can clarify a source for this statement?

"Primarily because of the small size of his Arizona district, compared to Evanston, McCann was considered a long shot for the Evanston job, even though he was one of five finalists out of a field of nearly 60 applicants for the position."

In other words, Dr. McCann was considered a long shot by....?

 

Off-the-record comments

Off-the-record comments from people who had attended all five candidate forums. Comments about him were generally favorable; the only negatives I heard pertained to the size and makeup of his district when compared to District 65. He apparently felt he found a better fit in Ridgefield. 

We still have 3 great choices...

After attending all 5 forums, I think we still have 3 great candidates to choose from. Three, yes, I know we have four left, but I would only consider 3 of them. Glazer, Goren and Smith all have wonderful things to bring to Evanston. They have worked in large school districts and have a wealth of experience. The board really needs to think about who will be the best fit for our community. If it were up to me, I would pick Smith. He seemed the most passionate, knowledgable and real. He seems like he could relate with teachers, admins, students, parents and the community the best. 

So what about the Skokie candidate? Well, in my opinion, he is arrogant. We don't need arrogance, we need real, we need sincere, we need transperant. In Skokie District 69, the first thing he did was cut fine arts programs and cut teaching staff....that really worries me. He says he brought them back four years later, but I simply don't buy it. The fine arts are very important to our community and some people would even consider them sacred. Do were really want someone who is going to come and cut programs that we pride ourselves on?? Additionally, he comes from a rural community where he taught for 2 or 3 years (I really could not tell you because he submitted a letter to the district instead of a real bio/resume).  In Amboy, IL, were he was a teacher, administrator and supt of a district with 60-70 teachers and 750-800 students. Then, he moved to Skokie where there are 90-95 teachers and 1700 students. He only has to work with 3 principals (all are newer to district 69) and the demographics in D69 part of Skokie are very different than Evanston/Skokie District 65,  so I think it would be a big shift that he is not ready (professionally) to make. I wonder why he wants to make this big move to Evanston. Is he running from his community that he has worked so hard to improve? Shepherd also is on a committee that ECRA (the search firm) is a part of and quite frankly, I really want someone new and fresh that does not have ties to anything or anyone. But again, the dealbreaker for me is the Shepherd is not as highly qualified as the other 3 and his ego is too big for our community.   http://www.illinoisvision2020.org  

We need a fresh start with someone new, trustworthy, experienced and real. I hope the board really thinks about this and really listens to the staff and community feedback. 

I agree on both Smith and your rationale

Mr. Smith is clearly the most experienced to lead our school district.  And his lack of  ties to Evanston is a big plus, especially given the grim financial picture.  We need some one who can say no. 

Goren is the best choice

Smith is not the most experienced nor does he have the best credentials. Smith is still working on his doctorate degree.

On the other hand, Goren has his PhD from Stanford University. Very impressive. Goren has roots in the Chicago/Evanston area, his kids attended Evanston schools - a big positives because the last superintendent who left abrubtly came from out of state and had no ties to the area.

Another thing, Smith says he wants diversity in the school faculty because, he said, "students need to see teachers that look like them."  The last thing D65 needs is to hire and fire teachers based on race or enact controversial race based policies. Hardy Murphy did that and divided the town a damaged the quality at D65. Consider what PEG has done. Unfortunately no one in the media or the school board asked these candidates their position on PEG and whether it should be implemented at D65.  

If you want another divider in chief Smith is your guy. If the community is so bent on whether the superintendent needs to look like some of the D65 students then how about Glazer. Maybe D65 needs a woman's touch. 

Goren is the best choice. Glazer is a close second. Smith by far would be the worst choice.

A degree alone is not enough

A PhD from Stanford does not alone qualify someone to be a superintendent, any more than not having a doctorate is an automatic disqualifier. Dr. Goren's credentials and experiences, impressive to some though they may be, are not relevant to the position of school superintendent. As far as I can tell, he has no experience in leading principals and teachers, with handling muliple and competing parents views and agendas, or in actually leading difficult changes from within (versus from outside) a school district. 

Your comparison of Mr. Smith with Dr. Murphy seems to be based primarily on his race and his being from another state. As for the espousing the value of a diversity among teachers, I hope that all of the candidates value a more diverse teaching force, especially in view of the fact that teachers in this country have historically been and majority white and female. (Note: I am both white and female). Mr. Smith did not at all suggest that teachers need to be fired and hired on the basis of race. And no one is "bent" on this issue...it's one of many that Mr. Smith discussing during the process in the context of specific questions.

Conflating Mr. Smith with Dr. Murphy might be convenient for your position and serve to oversimplify matters for community members who are less informed, but the comparison is baseless. 

 

 

 

Dr. Goren is more qualified to lead than Mr. Smith

No. 1. It's not easy getting into Stanford and earning a PhD from Stanford is the gold standard. Does that alone qualify Dr. Goren? No, but it's a darn good start.

Dr. Goren does have experience leading teachers and administrators. He was a teacher and administrator in schools in California and was deputy superintendent for policy and strategic services for the Minneapolis public schools.

I NEVER said anything about the race of Mr. Smith and Murphy. You did. 

Mr. Smith said he wants he wants diversity in the school faculty because, he said, "students need to see teachers that look like them." Is that the best way to manage faculty - hire teachers that "look" like their students? I want my D65 superintendent to hire the BEST teachers regardless of what they look like. I'm curious, do you support PEG?  

Dr. Goren said he's "focused on reducing the achievement gap (“but not at the expense of the high achievers”), and is committed to providing opportunities for all kids to excel." 

I like that. It's inclusive of everybody. Something that has been lacking at D65 and causing unecessary friction in Evanston. Plus, Dr. Goren has local ties and knows the area and the issues much better than Mr. Smith.

You can put a Dr. in front of Goren and Glazer. You can't with Mr. Smith or Mr. Shepard. If we're going to shell out the big bucks for a superintendent I'd like to have a Dr. in front of their name to add an air of professionalism. I'd rather have my new superintendent finished with their PhD rather than working on it while in office. If Mr. Smith or Mr. Shepard are picked over Dr. Goren and Dr. Glazer it would be an insult because, after all, those who earned a PhD deserve a little more respect and consideration when applying for a the top job at D65. 

All of them have doctorates, or in the process.

Al-

Shepherd already has his PhD in educational leadership and administration.  This was just not printed in the Evanstonnow article, like it was for the other candidates. Smith is in the process of earning one.  To earn a superintendent state certificate in Illinois, it's pretty customary to enroll in some sort of doctorate program. 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts re: Dr. Goren's candidacy

Hi Al.

A PhD from Stanford is a laudable if one's area is ed policy at the state or federal level, the economics of education, or ed philanthrophy, as Stanford's programs within those areas are well-regarded and have produced numerous productive researchers and policymakers in those fields. None of those fields provide the makings of a superintendent, and I would contend, often work against the skills and attitudes that superintendents need.

For the record, I have a PhD in an education field from a very well-regarded university...and count as colleagues many who do as well. Because of that, degrees mean far less to me than actual and relevant achievements. Certain Evanstonians are easily enamored of degrees from high places. I know better. (But since you seem to respect PhDs so much, maybe you'll consider my views my more carefully...hee hee) ;-)

I re-reviewed Dr. Goren's resume, and this is where a background and career in education comes in handy as a filter: the positions that Dr. Goren held in California and in MPS are the kinds of positions that involve data and policy, not direct leadership of teachers and principals, especially in areas of curriculum and instruction. Also, the positions he has held since the late 90s have not been in school districts. This is important because the past decade and a half have seen the advent of common standards (multiple sets, at that), accountability testing, and other complicated shifts that schools had heretofore not had to handle. Nine years at the Spencer Foundation is interesting--and that foundation does a lot of good work when it comes to providing research grants to substantive projects conducted by university faculty and others--but no one would say that it provides experience in K-12 education leadership, or close contact with K-12 issues and challenges.

To reiterate, Dr. Goren has effectively been out of school or district leadership for 15 years.  He’d have a steep learning curve, and would need to enlist many people (costly consultants included) to get him up to speed.

It would be far more “insulting” (as you say) to hire a candidate who is well-connected in the political and philanthropic sense, but hasn't actually been working in school districts in recent memory, than it would be to hire someone despite they haven't yet jumped through the final hoop to earn "Dr." (Which, by the way, is made significantly more difficult for Ms. Glazer and Mr. Smith as they are earning their degrees simultaneous to real-world work in a district from the break of dawn til long past dusk.) But thank you for making clear that it's the degree itself that you consider most important when it comes to distinguishing three of the candidates from one another.

You see Evanston roots as an asset; I see them as a drawback. Provincialism, local allegiances, and having children who are in the district all contribute to not being able to see past the end of one’s own nose (as Mary Poppins puts it). In any case, being an Evanston insider or outsider takes a backseat to the other necessary qualifications.

I'm choosing not to engage in conversation race-tinged issues. Nothing personal, but your comments on this board for many years suggest that we are eons apart in both perspective and experience.

For now, I’m resting my case and am eagerly awaiting the Board’s decision. Take care.

Some thoughts on Murphy, Goren and Smith

Hello Ann,

I'm a simple man without a PhD. Putting aside the PhD issue, consider this:.

Having Evanston roots is an asset. Dr. Goren understands the unique issues facing D65. Mr. Smith is from Fairfax, Va. - he doesn't. It would be a learning curve for him to come here and get to know all the players, the history and unique problems in Evanston. Dr. Goren can hit the ground running. 

Consider that when Hardy Murphy was hired in 1999 from Fort Worth, Tx he flew back to Fort Worth to do consulting work.there two years later. Murphy was an assistant superintendent at Fort Worth when he was hired in Evanston. He was also for seven years director of Fort Worth ISD's Desegregation and Affirmative Action. One of his primary focus for 14 years at D65 was to close the achievement gap between white and black students and spent a lot of  time and energy on one particular group of students. How did that work out? We're still singing the fill the achievement gap blues - a song sung for generations now in Evanston. Murphy's policies watered down education and angered many teachers, principals and parents to an unhealthy level (any new superintendet will make enemies but not to the degree that Murphy had).  Murphy's final performance was to abruptly resign and go back home, which is not Evanston.

My point is two  fold - it's better to hire locally and,hire someone who says he will lead D65 for ALL students. Dr. Goren is a policy guy. But isn't that really what superintendents do? Enact policies and programs? Lead.

Mr. Smith says "students need to see teachers that look like them." I have a big problem with that statement.  What did he mean? Why did he say it? Are D65 students not seeing teachers that look like them? Do students need to see teachers that look like them? If so, we need a heckuva lot more male teachers.

D65 and D202 ended student tracking. D202 paid tens of thousands of dollars to PEG -  a controversial group that believes the achievement gap is because of institutional racism. Too bad no one asked these candidates their opinion on PEG because my gut tells me PEG will rear its ugly head again.

That reminds Ann, you never said if you support PEG. Since you have a PhD in education, I'd love to hear your opinion. I am disgusted and appalled my tax dollars went to this toxic organization.

I just hope D65 Board has the right mind not to make the same mistake as it did with Murphy, who btw, did some positive things for D65 but the net result was negative.

Dr. Goren has the experience and knowledge to finally bring improvement to D65. Let's start the milllenium with a positive and experienced superintendent at D65.

Mr. Smith, come from Washington

With all due respect, Dr. Goren is qualified for many, many things. School superintendent is not one of them.

We need someone who has actually been working school districts continuously for at least the past decade (i.e., since the advent of NCLB)--as a leader in close contact with principles and teachers. Ms. Glazer's curricular speciality would be a plus, but for me, Mr. Smith's experience in leading 22 principals in one of the largest and well-regarded suburban school districts in the country puts him well ahead of the other candidates. FCPS is a massive district, and as asst. supt. of Cluster 1, he is responsible for far more leaders, staff, and students than he will be in D65. As far as I can tell, Dr. Goren has not held a district-level position with similar responsibilities. Ms. Glazer's district is smaller than D65, and her specialities are a tad narrow for a superintendent position at this point in her career.

Given the parent populations in Cluster 1, Mr. Smith has doubtless had many opportunities to handle complex issues and provide reasonable responses to stakeholders who may hold views that are vastly different from one another. His authenticity and knowledge of how real schools work will help him engage the widest possible swath of our community AND provide inspiring leadership at the district and school levels.

I urge the Board to make a decision based on credentials and experiences that are relevant to the challenging position of D65 superintendent. Mr. Smith is the obvious choice.

Praises for Superintendent Process

Many people are opining on their "favored" candidate for the new D65 Superintendent. I too attended the meetings, read the bios and listened to all the candidates. My comment pertains to the process for selecting the new superintendent. D65 School Board should be commended and thanked for their tireless effort to include all parts of the Evanston community and for the number of hours they have expended towards this effort. Go back and review all the community meetings that were held, opinions that were solicited, and the information provided to the entire Evanston community, and that's before the 5 finalists were selected. Last week, everyone, including teachers, administrators, and community members had the opportunity to meet each and every candidate.

Of course, it's the board's responsibility to select the next superintendent. And of course, this being Evanston, not everyone will agree with the selection. 

But I hope that people agree that this board did an exemplary job in handling this important process.

P.S. No i am not a school board member, but i met one of the candidates in the last election and now understand how much time and effort is required.