“Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the MPS Superintendent!”
Yes, a strange visitor from another city who came to Milwaukee with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal humans… defender of curriculum alignment and fiscal stability, champion of equal educational rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of ignorance and illiteracy who wages a never-ending battle for student achievement, stakeholder engagement, and urban school excellence.
OK, it’s probably bad form to parody the search for a new superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools for at least two reasons.
First, the children of MPS deserve the finest leader who can be recruited to the position. Their future literally hangs in the balance. The clock is ticking on whether the system as a whole can truly educate the majority of its students to 21st century standards.
Second, the search will be, by far, the most important determinant of whether the district can right itself any time soon – if ever. The time is right to attract an indisputable difference maker. If Milwaukee doesn’t get this search right, the less than stellar achievement results of its students and the downward fiscal spiral will either continue to cripple the district for decades or cause it to go completely belly up. Well, at least that’s my take.
If, on the other hand, the search nets Milwaukee a “super” superintendent, then lots of things figure to happen, and they’ll all be good.
- Most importantly, the kids will receive the high quality education that they need and deserve. Nothing is more important than the new leader moving with an unbridled sense of urgency toward academic achievement goals.
But what else would a genuinely “super” superintendent bring to the Milwaukee educational landscape? Here’s nine more possible benefits to round out my Top Ten:
- The fiscal demise of the district need not be imminent.
- The MPS Board will have impressive results to tout, and look good to the electorate because of them.
- The Milwaukee Teacher and Education Association would be inclined to pursue a trust relationship with central administration that will benefit the children.
- Community groups will be allies instead of critics.
- The proliferation of other entities that believe MPS ought to answer to them might cease.
- The Milwaukee media would cover the district in a more affirming way, allowing the many deserving teachers and principals in MPS to take some well earned pride in their work, be truly gratified by it, and receive some long overdue public recognition.
- The Department of Public Instruction will do the dance of joy, because its biggest challenge will have been addressed.
- The talk of mayoral control or a takeover by DPI might be moot, because MPS governance issues could rightly appear to be resolved.
- The district could focus less on constantly demonstrating accountability and devote precious time, energy, and resources to improving the system.
Wishful thinking? Maybe. But maybe not with the right leader. So, let’s suspend disbelief, assume great things are truly possible, and focus on the type of professional necessary to “Be The Difference.” With that thought in mind, we pose the following question and await your responses.
What qualifications would an ideal MPS Superintendent possess?