Friday, February 27, 2009

Super Slides South

When I first heard of the potential candidacy for the Austin gig by our current SPPS Superintendent, I sent the following E-Mail to a School Board member:
I can't say I will be saddened if our Superintendent gets a new gig. I still don't know why we hired someone we knew wasn't going to be here for no more than a few years.

Tell me that, during this time of budget strife, that we will not spend a penny in any kind of nationwide search, that we will move quickly to promote from within, and right this ship without the multi year transition that only amounts to spinning wheels in place.

Here is hoping she gets the job, so those of us who have a real investment in the future of our town and school district can get back to work. Maybe Kent is available. Can't believe we passed on him to begin with.

Kurt 'Flash'
Well, if you haven't heard, she's gone!

The Kent I refer to is Kent Pekel, an internal finalist with local roots. We would, and could make a GREAT superintendent. However, soon after he was passed over, he left the district, as most of the good administrators do. It was less than three years ago when the finalists where announced:
Kent Pekel, 38, senior policy associate at the National Center on Education and the Economy since 2005; married, three children.

Key experience: Currently working with states to develop educational systems that replicate worldwide best practices. Past experience as executive director of research and development for St. Paul Public Schools under Pat Harvey; special assistant to deputy secretary of education in Washington, D.C.; social studies/global studies teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School in Bloomington; English language instructor for Yale-China Association in Wuhan, China.

Why here: Enjoys current job, but "I've always planned to apply for the superintendent job in St. Paul, since before I left the district." Says he represents continuity, but "continuity in St. Paul right now is going to require change." His vision will be "education for globalization."

Potential pluses: Knows the district; seen by some as logical heir to Harvey; product of St. Paul Public Schools and has kids in them (eldest, 10, at Capitol Hill).

Potential minuses: No doctorate, might be seen as lacking relevant experience. Some concern about his ability to meet licensure requirement in timely manner. He says state would allow him to operate as licensed while working toward complete licensure within two years.

Personal: "News junkie," spending time with family, active in church in St. Paul.
Here's hoping he is still on the radar!

(Disclosure: I am a St Paul School District employee and parent of 4 students, 2 former and 2 currently enrolled at Central High School. I obviously have vested interest on both sides of the coin.)

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