Saturday, April 24, 2010

Finalists' Responses? Decision Sunday?

April 24, 2010, 6:00 a.m.

[This is essentially the seventh in what is, as of this morning, a seven-part series on the Iowa City schools search for a new superintendent: "School Boundaries: There Are Better Ways," April 16, 2010 (with links to 23 prior, related blog entries and other writing); "How to Pick a School Superintendent; And My Questions for Candidates," April 17, 2010; "Bringing Home the Bacon and Bezek," April 20, 2010, "ICCSD's Triple Play: From Bezek to Murley to Meeks; Bezek Can Talk the Talk -- On Four Hours' Sleep," April 21, 2010; and "Hurlyburly Over Murley," April 22, 2010; "IC Board Peeks at Meeks; Brad Meeks Rounds Out Three Finalists," April 23, 2010.]

Want to know the results of the finalists' "email exam"? See "IC Supers' Email," April 25, 2010.

Finalists Offered Last Word
(brought to you by*)

So far as this blog is concerned, the heavy lifting on the ICCSD's superintendent search is behind us -- although it is clearly not yet a done deal for the Board members. My contributions to that process (or subtractions, depending on one's perspective) are linked above. The Board members are now scheduled to meet Sunday evening (tomorrow, April 25) at the Central Administrative Office to at least begin, if not conclude, their deliberations and ultimate choice.

Meanwhile, I have offered each of the three finalists space in this blog for an unedited final statement should they want, or be willing, to make one. I've heard from some, but not all, of them at this point. My plan is to include any comments they choose to make here, in this blog entry, sometime late this afternoon. Given my support of the FCC's former Fairness Doctrine, both as an FCC commissioner and since, it seems to me only fair. Since I've had the opportunity to speak freely about matters of significance to them, I should provide them an opportunity to respond, to criticize me, or this blog's content, to make corrections in what I (or they, or the newspapers) have said, to share memories of the experience or a humorous anecdote, or just say a public goodbye to the Iowa City community. Of course, there's no obligation for them to say anything. But for those who choose not even to acknowledge receipt of my emailed invitation, that may be a matter of interest as well.

Here is the text of that email, sent yesterday:

Mark, Steve and Brad:

First off, congratulations on making it to the top of the list as a finalist and thank you for being willing to go through the process of being considered for the position of superintendent of the Iowa City Community School District. That's not an easy thing to do, from a variety of perspectives, and I for one, as a former school board member and simply a native of Iowa City, really appreciate it.

As you may know I have been blogging about the process. That's because I, like you, believe in community involvement in the schools, and an informed citizenry, and know that a number of people tell me they appreciate having the range of available information I bring together in one place. While I have been no one's cheerleader, and have some fun with the writing process, I would hope you have found nothing in my entries you would consider biased or mean spirited.

Now that the last public interview has been held, I'd like to give each of you a chance to have your own say, reproduced as a blog entry (as distinguished from a comment) and also published in the Press-Citizen's online "On the Record" (unless, for any reason, you'd prefer it only be in the blog).

You can provide corrections to what I've written, or write a comment you wanted to make but only thought of on the road going home, or answer some of the questions I posted in "How to Pick a School Superintendent; And My Questions for Candidates," April 17,, or criticize the fact I was blogging at all (I've never deleted a critical comment from the blog), or perhaps just write a postcard-like greeting from your district: "Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here -- instead of blogging in Iowa City."

Humorous, serious, short, lengthy -- whatever. It's your call - including, of course, the choice to not respond at all.

I plan on having it on the blog sometime tomorrow afternoon, prior to the Board's meeting Sunday (with no response by me to any of it until after the Board has met, if then).

Today's blog entry, "IC Board Peeks at Meeks," April 23,, opens with links to the prior six relevant documents.

Thanks again, and good luck. (I have no inside information or even rumors as to what the Board will do; my sense is it is very close.)

So, as the billboard line goes, "Watch this space and see."

Meanwhile, Jeff Charis-Carlson, who seems to have authored the entirety of the Press-Citizen's content this morning, has included another useful column, "Meeks: Superintendent Must Hit Ground Running," Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 24, 2010, p. A11 (Meeks' accomplishments at improved relations in employee bargaining, getting three schools off of "schools in need of assistance" list; "Meeks asked a very practical question of his own: What do you want a superintendent to accomplish in the first six months? The answers from the board members highlighted how difficult a transition it is going to be to go from Lane Plugge to any new superintendent.").

And see, Rob Daniel, "Board hopes to decide Sunday; Members impressed with candidates for superintendent," Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 24, 2010, p. A1 ("Board president Patti Fields said each one brought a different strength, including Bezek's experience in a district similar in size to Iowa City, Meeks' work in redistricting and Murley's work in budgeting. . . . Board member Toni Cilek said she liked that all of the candidates have had experience as a superintendent and most have dealt with boundary and redistricting issues. She declined to comment on each individually, saying 'they all interviewed well.'")

These comments square with my own in concluding "IC Board Peeks at Meeks; Brad Meeks Rounds Out Three Finalists," April 23, 2010, that what the Board now has before it are "hours of back and forth discussion and fruitless efforts to resolve a classic, impenetrable, multiple-variable-comparative analysis." There simply is no clear, single metric for making a decision like this.

Fortunately, for the Board members and the community, it will be very difficult for anyone to make the case, whomever they may choose, that "they picked the wrong one."


* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
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1 comment:

Nick said...

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The only limitation is that comments unrelated to the essay, such as advertising posing as comments, or with links to unrelated sites, will be removed. That is why one or more of the comments posted on this blog entry are no longer here.

-- Nick