My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meeting Update AND Superintendent's Forum

I'll do a longer blog post soon about last night's (very good) Amherst School Committee Meeting, but two quick things for now:

1. We voted last night to form a task force to study the governance of the Amherst elementary schools, as you can read about in the Gazette article ( We've spent a lot of time discussing various options on this, and I've heard a lot of different views, and ultimately I believe we need to have a better understanding of the financial implications of the current arrangement -- as well as any alternative arrangement -- so I am really glad the Amherst SC all voted to support the formation of this task force. Steve has agreed to participate, and may be joined by another member of the Amherst SC, and will certainly be joined by 1 or more members of the Amherst Finance Committee.

2. There is a public forum regarding the superintendent selection (and the characteristics/qualities community members/parents/teachers want in this person) so please come share your thoughts: 7 pm tonight (Wednesday), ARHS auditorium. You can also fill out a survey on line sharing your thoughts (


Anonymous said...

Today's Gazette paraphrases residents saying that "the next superintendent should not think of the job as a stepping-stone to another job". I think that sentiment should be examined a bit.

If the average tenure of a superintendent these days is 3-5 years, what's wrong with having someone who might have career aspirations beyond Amherst? That person cannot accomplish good things for our schools?

We want instead someone who would prefer to sit in the job for 10-20 years? I think we need to think this through, because such a requirement limits the applicant pool considerably, or simply encourages candidates to lie about their ambitions.

Anonymous said...

A guide to understanding comments about the superintendent search.

Roughly 1/3 of the comments are along the following lines: "We need someone who understands the unique nature of our community" or "We need someone committed to being here for the long haul" or "We have to be creative when we think about qualifications."

All these people want to hire Maria Geryk.

Another 1/3 of the comments are along these lines: "We have to fix SPED" or "We need an outsider no matter what" or "Amherst must align itself with the best districts in the Commonwealth."

All these people want to hire anyone but Mari Geryk.

A final third says something along the lines of "Get us the best person" or "We don't care about ideology or what was done here before or never done here before. Just get a good person who will challenge all kids all the time and reward good teachers and work to identify and remove bad teachers."

These people don't have a specific individual in mind. They just want someone who isn't a cheerleader or an open critic of everything. They want someone who will be open and honest to debate and admit when something this is unique to Amherst is good and when something unique to Amherst is bad.

Ed said...

Maybe it is because I have been up since 4, but I went through the survey now and it all seems to be feel good questions. Missing was something to the effect of "has a degree in educational administration."

Not "knows" or "articulates" but has an actual degree in it. And the more I think about it, "must have a Doctorate in Educational Administration is my most important qualification.

I want my lawyer to have gone to law school, my doctor to have gone to med school, and my superintendent to have gone to superintendent school.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I also want my superintendent to have successfully taught in a regular classroom AND been a principal AND managed people and a budget BEFORE coming to this district. I want someone who is smart and a leader, and has educational vision for where the district should be. This would be someone who can direct the organizational change that is needed, and be strong enough to deal with the push back from those who will always like the status quo, just because it is easier and more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

The job really calls for an outsider. To have someone from the inside is to have someone who has too many personal and professional ties to the system. It really calls for someone who can take a step back and make some hard decisions without having any personal entanglements.

Anonymous said...

Can't you see?

The push back is unstoppable, because it's supported by so many Amherst residents.

The only superintendent who can survive here is someone who is of, by, and for the bureaucracy that we've developed in Amherst, because it is so politically powerful.

In the long run, the only recourse for parents is to leave, i.e. vote with your child's feet.