Wednesday, January 30, 2019

KATE'S TAKE: After the Superintendent Selection

Posted by: Kate Lee
Director of Talent Engagement
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, January 30, 2019 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (9)

This week I attended the board meeting of the South Bend Community School Corporation. Questions have been raised about the selection process of every superintendent hired since I’ve lived in South Bend--nearly 25 years. Based on conversations and observations, I have seen these same questions asked of corporations across our state; what changes the game is how communities move forward AFTER the superintendent is selected.

Our community doesn’t have the luxury of continuing to expend energy on drama, suspicion, and the casting of stones. Our students and educators deserve better. The people working to positively impact our community through private and public investments know that a strong public education system is necessary to ensure that each person reaches their full potential. Business leaders represented by the Chamber want graduates who are prepared to both benefit from, and contribute to, their continued growth.

We will never pick up the pace on equitable, positive change if we’re in a constant state of crisis. The best schools are not just the site of academic learning - but also places of welcome, stability, safety and the building of life foundations.

Let’s support Dr. Cummings as he works to establish a lean, collaborative and action-oriented administrative team to provide systemic stability and the support our principals and educators need to give their very best to the students they serve.

Let’s be honest about our big challenges, even when it’s uncomfortable – and work together – as a community of partners - to establish priorities and implement strategies that make it possible for ALL of our students to succeed.

Let’s establish strong relationships with the business and non-profit partners who stand ready to support our children and educators – giving the broader community meaningful ways to get engaged and truly feel they are part of Team South Bend.

Let’s hold each other accountable, with open minds, dignity and respect and not with tunnel vision and self-inflicted drama.

Let’s build the level of trust, both internally and externally.

It has taken bold action by local business and government leaders to ignite the positive change we’re seeing in South Bend. We are looking to our elected school board and Dr. Cummings to provide brave and bold leadership for South Bend Schools. We believe you see the value in celebrating successes and have the courage to acknowledge and present the very real challenges to our community.

Business leaders expect: clear goals to be set; relevant and accessible student data; strong and timely communication; and a community-wide, laser focus on the strategies selected to drive positive change. South Bend Schools can then ask for – and be prepared to accept - help to address the larger issues impacting student and school success.

As a community, we must do our part. We must not continuously restate what we think is wrong with our schools. If we want to drive positive, systemic change, we must develop a broader understanding of the challenges of public education – from rising expectations and reduced funding to overburdened educators and a high percentage of students who live in poverty.

Then, we all must act – playing whatever role we can to support our children and partner with our schools.

What if we do this so well that Dr. Cummings determines there is no better community to tackle these challenges with and no better place to spend the next decade (or more!) of his career, leading the team that transforms K-12 education in our city?

This is the time for action.