LEGISLATORS QUESTION FAST-TRACK JOB SEARCH FOR UTAH’S TOP PUBLIC EDUCATION OFFICIAL
SALT LAKE CITY – This morning, four legislative leaders expressed concern with the current process to replace Larry Shumway as the Utah Superintendent of Public Education, describing it as rushed, superficial and apparently orchestrated toward a predetermined result. House Majority Whip Greg Hughes, Senate Public Education Appropriation Chair Howard Stephenson, Representative Dan McCay and Senate Rules Chair Margaret Dayton issued the following statement:
We are very concerned with the timing and process by which the Utah Board of Education has determined to hire a new superintendent for the State of Utah. This process should not be rushed. It should be meticulous and inclusive. When Superintendent Shumway was hired three years ago, the state board hosted an open process for hiring the next Superintendent. The board conducted a nationwide search which produced a deep pool of well qualified candidates. The process was thorough, judicious and inclusive. Selection committees involved parent organizations, administrators, teachers, legislators and the business community. That hiring process produced a candidate who was well prepared to take the helm.
We would like to see a similar process in place to search for, and evaluate Superintendent Shumway’s replacement.
The current application process for Superintendent Shumway’s replacement appears to be rushed. Superintendent Shumway announced his resignation September 7, 2012. On September 11, 2012, The Utah State Board of Education published notice of the open seat with an application deadline of September 23, 2012. A final decision is expected by mid-October. This two week window of application along with the truncated evaluation process will tend to deter qualified candidates from stepping forward and work against the collaborative effort need to fully weigh the merits of each finalist.
In addition, the Utah State Board of Education selection committee plans to make a final decision by mid-October, just a few short weeks before voters hit the polls in November. However, half of the School Board seats are up for a vote of the people. Utah will have new leaders. Why should the old board select leaders for the new board? New members should have a voice, ownership and confidence in the new superintendent. Making a decision that excludes the newly-elected voices flies in the face of representative government.
Indeed, it appears the Board of Education may have already selected the new superintendent and is now just going through the minimum necessary motions to make their choice legal.
We believe this decision should not be expedited. It should not be predetermined. It should be meticulous, open, inclusive, and thorough. It should be done by the right people at the right time. We encourage the School Board to adjust the current process accordingly.
It would be difficult to overstate the statewide impact of this one position. The superintendent serves as the CEO of the State Board of Education and oversees curriculum, literacy, quality instruction, education budgets and many other functions, highly consequential to the long-term well-being of our state.
Again, we encourage the Board of Education to allow for a more timely and careful consideration of our next Superintendent of Public Education. Our children, our economy and the health of our state deserve it.
The Utah Board of Education job listing can be found here: [PDF]
Stuart Adams asks the Board of Education to compare their process to how we hire university presidents.
The Sutherland Institute asks, “What’s the big rush?“
Deseret News editorial urges The Board of Education to slow down.