Friday, February 29, 2008

Looks Like It Will Be the Boys Club

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 72% of all K-12 educators in this country are women, but only 17% of 13,000 superintendents are women. Whether that is because school boards won't hire women or because few of them have been head coaches, we don't know. Last month, I ruminated that the upcoming replacement for School Superintendent Bobby New is likely to continue the unbroken line of white male supers in the district. I hoped I was wrong, but the auguries are not encouraging.

Steve Percival, President of the Fayetteville School Board,
said last night that even after a nationwide search and a Valentine's Weekend Recruiting Trip to Tampa, he has received only nine formal applications to be the next superintendent, and the deadline is today. Surprise! Eight of the nine applicants are male, and there is considerable speculation that it is a pro forma process and already wired for Randy Willison, the current Associate Superintendent.

That's too bad. The only woman applicant is Dr. Liz Celania-Fagen, Associate Superintendent of the Des Moines Independent School District. She has graduate degrees in Educational Leadership and an undergraduate degree and classroom experience in Science Education. A glimpse of her educational philosophy might be gleaned from her observation that we need to be teaching "how to find, access, disseminate, analyze, and interpret information in an environment of constantly evolving technology," and seriously address the question, "What do our children need to learn to be successful in a future we can't predict?"

It is hard to believe that Percival is serious about recruiting Dr. Celania-Fagen. The article in today's Northwest Arkansas Times doesn't even spell her name correctly, calling her Celana-Fagan. Who knows if the press release or the reporter made typos in both names? And while the Fayetteville School Board hasn't gotten around to naming finalists, Dr. Celania-Fagen is one of four finalists for the superintendent position at Tucson and is scheduled for an interview on Monday. That position pays $185,000-$230,000 a year with a benefits package of up to $50,000.

Percival and company must already know if they drag their feet a little longer, they can get their pal Randy Willison a lot cheaper and not have to hire a woman to oversee construction of that new high school they want to build on the outskirts of town.

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