Dear Board Members,
Tomorrow we celebrate the President of the United States visiting Metro Schools once again, but tonight you will discuss the future of the man who’s policies directly led to the Presidents first visit. That is a huge accomplishment and speaks volumes for his ability to be the interim superintendent for Metro Schools. The future leadership of our system is incredibly important but should not over shadow the immediate needs of our students. They deserve leadership that will be more then just a placeholder until a permanent replacement is found. They need someone who has demonstrated that they can implement and manage forward thinking policies that will advance our system. Jay Steele has proven to be such a man.
I know that the search firm has fears about the level of candidate that we could attract with a potential permanent candidate serving as interim manager. To be frank, that is their challenge, not yours and if they are not up to it, perhaps we need a another search firm. The challenge that you have been dispatched with is to insure that all children have a quality teacher in every classroom and a quality leader in every building. That mission starts with having a quality leader at the top of the organization. That challenge was met with the appointment of Dr. Steele.
There is no guarantee that any of the finalists that the search firm brings forth will be the right fit for Nashville. If that becomes the case we need to ensure that we haven’t painted ourselves into a corner. Dr. Steele gives us the option to tell the search firm that they have to do better and bring us a higher quality candidate. Otherwise, we force ourselves into the position of having the select the best of a mediocre lot. Something that the search company has already hinted a recent evaluation of applications.
In discussing the potential of reversing last weeks appointment, the messages that will be delivered to the general public need to be considered. First and foremost will be that this board is incapable of meeting a task as important as hiring a superintendent of schools. To this point in the process, the timeline has already been botched and adjusted and now you are signifying that the appointing of the interim superintendent was botched as well and requires adjusting. Who is to believe that the next step won’t also be botched and require adjustment as well. After all actions speak louder then words. So far the boards actions are not offering evidence that our faith is being placed in the right hands.
The other message you will be sending is one of how we treat our own. Regardless of personal opinion, Jay Steele has been a large part of the success that Dr. Register is now taking a victory lap for. Is he not worthy of some of the same respect that is being bestowed on Dr. Register? Is this how we show our respect and support for someone who has spent the last several years in the service of our children? If this is how we do our own, why would a high quality candidate want to become one of us? Does this really speak to who we are as a community?
I urge you, preserve the integrity of the superintendent search. Demonstrate that as a board you truly are capable of meeting the challenge and ensuring that our children are in highly qualified hands. Parents and members of the community are watching and deciding, is MNPS truly up to the task of educating our children or do we need to seek services elsewhere? You made a wise decision with the appointment of Dr. Jay Steele. Lets not follow it up with a foolish one.
Thomas A Weber