First, we must define ‘highly qualified’

BRATTLEBORO — According to Andy Davis, who attended the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union Finance Committee Meeting of Oct. 13, Chairman Russ Janis stated that “this [hiring] process has been used for many years by WSESU to identify and hire highly qualified administrators.”

Had I been present for the conversation, I would have asked, “How do you know you hired highly qualified administrators?”

That question might seem like a surprising response, but there has to be an answer.

What was the administrator expected to achieve? Who decided what they should achieve? Why were those achievements chosen and not others? For instance, does the graduation rate reflect on the quality of a superintendent? Does a high graduation rate mean that students received a good education?

Suppose a study were done of white graduates of Brattleboro Union High School to see how they were doing 10, 20, and 30 years afterwards. (I say “white” to compare students with other white graduates across the country just to compare apples to apples.)

Suppose it turns out that the BUHS graduation rate was average for all whites. However, the study also revealed that BUHS students averaged 15 percent lower average annual incomes. Or that BUHS students had a lower voting rate and/or a significantly higher rate of personal debt. Do any these things reflect on the quality of their education?

If so, then it would seem that we might not have had administrators that were as “highly qualified” as we believed.

If not, then what do the achievements of a superintendent look like?

First, we have to decide why we are educating kids at all. Then we can decide on what the achievements of administrators should look like. Then we have to measure or assess in some way the results.

Look at our country today. Have public schools in this country served us well?

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