California Educator

November 2015

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scrambling for replacements, and many appoint interim superintendents, often retired superintendents, to fill in. Partially implemented plans are frequently halted f o r a b ra n d - n e w p l a n f r o m a d i f f e re n t superintendent with an entirely new vision, say educators. Benefits of longevity Unfortunately, most reforms take more time for successful implementation than the superintendent's average stay, asserts Marshall Smith, former dean of Stanford Graduat e S chool of Education . Indeed , research and practice in the CTA-led Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) school turnaround program, funded over eight years (2007-2015), proved the benefit of long-term "exemplary adminstrators," among other key components. Support for strong lead- ership that builds mutual respect and trust with educators is essential to develop and implement plans and hire and retain quality teachers neces- sary for reforms to take place and performance to be raised and sustained. Andy Hargreaves, an inf luential scholar on U.S. public education policy, says, " 'Sustainable' leadership goes beyond temporary gains in achievement scores to create lasting, meaning ful improvements in learning," and goes beyond the individual. "e systems in which leaders do their work must make sustainability a priority." e advantages of superintendent stability can be seen in Long Beach, where Chris Steinhauser has served as superintendent for 13 years. While he and members of the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB) don't always see eye to eye, educators respect him, says TALB President Barry Welsch. "We disagree on a lot of things, but as a general statement, we have a positive relationship," Welsch says. "He works hard to reach out to teachers. For example, tomorrow, he's doing a question and answer meeting with our TALB Rep Council. We invite him, and he comes and answers all of our questions, even the hard ones. We don't always like the answers, but he's standing up there and not afraid to face the teachers." Steinhauser's long tenure has given the district consistency and continuity. And the superintendent is part of the community; his wife and son both teach in Long Beach public schools. "Chris went to school in Long Beach, started teaching in Long Beach, was a principal in Long Beach, and then went on to become superintendent," Welsch says. "He lives here. And even though he lives in East Long Beach, which is the affluent part of town, he took his kids to a school in a totally different part of town because he wanted to show that all s c h o o l s a re g o o d i n L o n g Beach. He's not here for the quick in and out. He's here for the long haul." Turn, turn, turn EdSource notes there has been "surprisingly little research" about the impact of superintendent turnover on academic outcomes. But CTA members say the lack of consistency is disruptive, takes a toll on employee morale, and hurts the ability to make meaningful changes. When abrasive and controversial superintendents play musical schools, they wreak havoc wherever they go. In 2013, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith — proponent of charter schools, privatiza- tion, school closures, downsizing and union busting — left Oakland "before he could be held accountable for his failed reforms," says Oakland Education Association President Trish Gorham. He was recently hired as the new Illinois schools chief. Former Los Angeles Unified School District Superin- tendent John Deasy's iPad program cost the district $1.3 Susan Mercer, president of the Santa Ana Educators Association, in front of a chart she created showing the multiple comings and goings of district administrators. " We invite him, and he comes and answers all of our questions, even the hard ones. We don't always like the answers, but he's standing up there and not afraid to face the teachers." — Barry Welsch, Teachers Association of Long Beach president, of Superintendent Chris Steinhauser 34 F E A T U R E Chris Steinhauser

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