Posted by RWE, a resident of the South of Midtown neighborhood, on Apr 20, 2007 at 10:07 am
Howard, I trust your comment was tongue-in-cheek. ;)
In fact, there is a lot of healing called for within PAUSD. Whoever comes on board is going to have to have a unique combination of collaborative and leadership skills. There has never been as much rancor within PAUSD's ranks as is currently the case. Morale is at a relatively low point.
It's a very difficult thing for an executive to walk into a morale problem, much less be charged with fixing it. Nevertheless, that's the mandate.
One caveat: this time the _BOE_ will have to be part of the therapy. Unlike last time, when the BOE sloughed off its responsibility to effectively deal with what was perceived as a "union problem", and hired a "hit-person" (MFC's 'tough' stance and "take-no-prisoners" approach to unions negotiations preceded her; she lived up to that reputation, and thus the current result).
BOE members have power; it's given to them by the polis.
It's always interesting to see what happens to someone when they gain a little power. Most people flounder a bit, forgetting that power adds a new weight to everything they say and do - in both directions, positive and negative. That takes getting used to. Hopefully, lessons have been learned.
That said, this time the BOE is going to have to step up to the plate, concede that there is a valid argument coming from staff, and find some way to repair a serious breach of trust. This will not blow over quickly, so persistence and sensitivity is called for.
The hope is that the haughty condescension inherited (by some) from the Kroynman years will go away for good, and that this BOE will find some humility.
Everyone on the BOE is - in spite of some of our disagreements with them - trying to do a good job.
One thing that this BOE might learn from the one that hired MFC - that is that one cannot in a school environment hire someone to carry out one's own mandate. The BOE needs - as does the coming Superintendent - LEADERSHIP. Until now, we've mostly seen reactive posturing, and convenient rationalizations.
BOE members need to walk in the shoes of teachers and staff, remember that they are there to help parents and students get the best value for their tax dollar, but at the same time remember that they are charged with _optimally_ running an organization. Just in case the BOE hasn't noticed (as it seems something forgotton since the Callan/Kroynman [and now Townsend]) years, is that PEOPLE run this organization. It's a SERVICE organization. We want _mostly happy_ people encountering our kids every day. Mostly happy workers invigorate an organization.
Perhaps the BOE might take a look at this Venn-diagrammed representation of the ingredients fot organizational motivation and happiness. Start with that
(btw, Edward Deci should be required reading for all organizational leaders)
There is NO excuse for any leader to permit an environment of dissension and low morale to occur. The BOE and our outgoing Superintendent bear full responsibility for what has transpired, just as the BOE now bears the responsibility to _fix_ the current problem and make PAUSD sustainable in terms of organizational cohesion.
We're all fallible (that's an inclusive "we", btw). We all make mistakes. It's time for the BOE to own up to its errors and do right by staff, and our city.
This next hire will face challenges that no other has faced prior. We are facing real constraint in our region. It's an irony, because on the surface - and by comparison with most - we're quite well off. We're living with the artifacts of Prop 13 - artifacts that, like chickens, have come home to roost. We must bring forward leaders who understand this structural problem - within PAUSD, and within the larger environment that PAUSD operates (our city), and knows how to bridge differences in a way that doesn't alienate.
It's a big task. The BOE is going to have to step outside its current comfort zone to enable these things. Is this BOE up to the task? We'll see.