Monday, May 23, 2011

CT Education Commish - No Takers

Even with the national unemployment rate at 9-10% - CT can't seem to fill a top government position. Immediate past Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan resigned abruptly nearly five months ago. You'd think by now there would be someone out there who would jump at the chance to make a six figure income ($180,353) with all kinds of perks as the head honcho of the CT Education Department. However, fewer than 10 candidates have applied to become CT's Education Commissioner. Even the adverts in Education Week have produced little to choose from. The State Board has had to extend the application deadline to try to generate more applications.

It has been reported that half the states in the country have lost top level education "leaders".
All in all, it must be a pretty crappy job.
But take a look at what they expect:
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he is looking for the next education commissioner to be a "proven change agent." He has said he wants to reform teacher tenure to give schools flexibility when facing layoff decisions, reform the funding formula for education aid to towns, transfer responsibility of the state's vocational-technical schools, reform early childhood education, and overcome the achievement gap between poor students and their more affluent peers.
Change agent?
Sounds like a tall order since CT government schools are in dire need of real change and they have problems up the wazoo - that the state has created for themselves.

But the problem is that the notion of change that truly accomplishes something does not mesh well at all with the political goals of those that the Education Commissioner must report to. The Commish gets hamstrung between union demands and quality education, between the political game playing and actual achievement, between impossible expectations and the reality of what the problems being faced are. And then of course there is the endless fights over funding and the continuing pillaging of CT taxpayers who are pretty much tapped out.

No wonder no one wants this job.
Anyone who truly wants to make a difference in education would steer clear from this job because their are too many people in the way of getting the job done right and there are too many fingers in the educational funding pie to really get the money to where it counts - the kids. Anyone remotely bringing fresh ideas and "out of the box" thinking to this position would be squashed in no time flat. Unfortunately, that is what this position desperately needs; someone who can dismantle the waste ridden and ineffective educational empire that has been erected.

Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, said, "These jobs have become very political and everybody has an idea how to do your job better then you do. There just aren't as many people willing to take that job anymore," he said.
The stress from the political scene in Connecticut apparently led McQuillan to unexpectedly resign last December, following a very public outburst. George A. Coleman, who has been at the department for years, has been named the interim commissioner, but he has indicated he is not a candidate for permanent appointment.
In my opinion, most people that are already too steeped in the system are incapable of really bring meaningful change to anything.

Then of course, most "Superman" candidates do not want to make merely $180K plus. Even though McQuillan's base salary was slightly above average in comparison to 40 other states, it seems this is not nearly enough compensation for the BS they have to both put up with as well as produce. And let's face it - it isn't that much more than the ridiculous salaries that school superintendents across CT rake in. (Remember - those high salaries and pensions - well it's for the kids....)
Some superintendents in the state earn as much as $280,000, according to the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. The average pay is $165,000.
And of course, because of austerity in state government the poor commissioner is expected to do more with less, has less staff at his beck and call - and some claim that as a result, "The ability of those department to meet the challenges facing education have not kept pace." (please pass me the Kleenex)

But the State Board of Education is getting desperate and soon they will be discussing hiring a search firm to shake the trees even harder to find their next whipping... er golden.... boy or girl.

Progressive tax and spend Rep. Andy Fleischmann (D-West Hartford), co-chairman of CT Legislature's Education Committee, said, "This is a department in need of some rejuvenation. We've fallen behind other states in real reform. It's time for us to sell that Connecticut is ready for reform to attract A-list applicants."

I have news for Rep. Andy Fleischmann - if he and his Progressive compadres didn't make such moronic education legislation and didn't tie the hands of municipalities with absurd unfunded mandates and didn't bastardize Education Cost Sharing formulas over the years they way they have - perhaps they would already have an Education Commissioner who could make some worthwhile and workable changes to the way CT government schools are run.

Until then - they will just have to be happy with "less than A-List" applicants. It seems God is too busy doing other things and cannot take the position just now.

"They could in the meantime look on the U-list for unionized, or the S-list for socialist, and the E-list for entitled" (hat tip for that idea to the commenter HaveToSaySomething on Thu, 05/19/2011 - 8:53am. CT Mirror)