Indianapolis Public Schools are in a state of flux. Former superintendent, Dr. Lewis Ferebee, has been picked to head Washington, D.C. schools leaving a void. The vacancy is currently filled by interim superintendent Aleesia Johnson, but the Indianapolis Public Schools commissioners have announced that they plan to hire a permanent replacement for Ferebee by May.
The board is currently seeking candidates, and as they go through this process, there are a few traits they should prioritize in a new superintendent. Here are a few listed in order of importance.
Urban leadership experience
Indianapolis is too big and too complicated to have a neophyte leader in charge. It may not be necessary for the candidate to be a superintendent before coming to Indy, but there should be at least some history of demonstrated success in a similar environment.
A willingness to embrace school choice
School choice may be controversial in other places, but here in Indy, school choice, by and large, is apolitical. This has essentially been codified by Indianapolis Public Schools’s partnership with charter schools. The leader of Indianapolis schools cannot be ideologically opposed to such a large part of the local educational landscape.
Significant teaching experience
This shouldn’t be too hard to find. Most educational leaders have been teachers; however, it is important that the person in charge of thousands of students have experience leading students in a classroom setting. Explaining the obstacles of educating in an inner-city environment is not something teachers should have to do when conversing with the superintendent of an inner-city district.
The next leader shouldn’t just be content to maintain. They should have their own goals and initiatives that they want to implement.
This may not be possible, but it would be nice to have someone who has a serious stake in the outcome of the schools. There is o better way to do that than recruiting a parent. A parent will also be able to relate better to the parents of the students in the district… something that is often a weak point for the actual schools.
This list is just a suggestion, and it may not be possible to find a perfect candidate. However, this list really is not too much to ask and should comprise at least some of the qualities the board desires in a new leader.