A New Beginning ?

January 8, 2007

Dear Russ,

It's nice to read the lively discussion currently going on regarding leadership in the DPS and the desire/need for change.

Open-minded people understand that change, fresh ideas, and continuous improvement are healthy and needed for success in any organization. A public school system is no exception.

These concepts must be not only supported but also promoted by the organization's leadership, and they will understand that sometimes changes in leadership are precisely what an organization needs to improve and best serve its customers (in this case the students and parents of the DPS).

With school board members, the voters get to decide when changes are needed. Remember that in the last election, Schoolmaster narrowly kept his seat by a vote of 11,423-11,254. His margin of victory was less than 0.5% of the total votes cast! If this isn't a strong sign of the desire for change in this district, I don't know what is. This election could have easily gone the other way.

Keep in mind that we have some other significant leadership decisions coming up in this district. The terms of school board members Joe Guido and Mary Lane are up in 2007. I don't know if one or both of them will run for re-election, but in any event voters will have an opportunity in November to put some new people with new ideas and better problem solving skills on the school board. Personally, I would like to see both of these incumbents go.

Additionally, the departure of Artis at the end of the 2007-2008 school year is really just around the corner when you stop and think about it (although it can't come soon enough for the numerous Artis critics in this district). Unfortunately, the voters don't get to choose the next superintendent - the school board does. I'm really interested in knowing when the search for the next DPS superintendent will begin, how the process will go, what the selection criteria will be, how involved the public will be, and whether the school board will get it right this time.

The students, parents and employees of the DPS deserve nothing less than a great leader who will do great things in this district. Finding such a leader will be no easy task. Great leaders have a rare combination of skills, including the ability to be tough when necessary but fair always, to listen with empathy as well as speak with conviction, to motivate and inspire at all levels of her/his organization, and to lead by example and be someone to whom the future leaders currently being educated in the DPS can look up and emulate. In my opinion Artis falls short on any number of these characteristics. Let's hope our school board can find us a great leader to replace him.

I'm looking forward to reading other people's comments on this subject.

DPS Parent