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Searching for Boston’s New Superintendent

Is an open forum the best method for this high level position?

Melvin B. Miller

The selection process for a new Boston School Superintendent seems to be a transparent process, but unfortunately candidates for high level positions do not usually compete in an open arena like it’s a baseball game. When colleges want a new president, the usual procedure is to select a committee of knowledgeable trustees and others to conduct a search. Their work is done very discreetly. If the identity of the potential president is publicly revealed, that candidate will usually deny any interest in the position and will immediately withdraw his or her name from consideration.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, an unrefuted announcement would reveal dissatisfaction with the present employment. Secondly, it is hardly enhancing to one’s resume to be publicly defeated for a prospective job.

Only candidates with little interest such concerns would join the face off to be Boston’s new superintendent. One might conclude, therefore, that the search committee is following a process that discourages some candidates with the highest professional reputation from entering the fray.

Whoever wins will have the challenge in Boston, the consummate academic town, of establishing his or her top educational qualifications. Perhaps it might have been wiser to follow the more standard discrete recruitment process.