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Albuquerque Teachers Federation Survey Results

Superintendent Survey Results: Survey Says…

Published: January 7, 2020
Source: Albuquerque Teachers Federation, Superintendent Survey Results

Leadership matters. Leaders set a tone, provide vision, instill confidence, ensure stability, value progress, support employees, and manage systems. Educators flock to a school where there is excellent principal leadership, and they stay there. By the same token, we see high teacher and support staff turnover rates at schools where our voices are not honored and where there is no clear vision on how the school should move forward.

The same is true for the leadership of a school district superintendent. Our district’s leadership matters. Although the average tenure of urban superintendents is between 2.3 to 3.6 years and school employees generally outlast whoever is chosen to be the superintendent, a leader who works collaboratively with educators and demonstrates just and visionary leadership can make a positive change in the work we do.

There are amazing outspoken superintendents who have been willing to take a risk and exert ethical and moral leadership in the direction of public education. Joshua Starr, superintendent of public schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, publicly criticized the “apparent national obsession” with standardized testing. Todd Gazda, superintendent of schools in Ludlow, Massachusetts, fought excessive and unnecessary “initiatives” that take away from instructional time and quality.  Thomas Scarice, the superintendent of Madison Public Schools in Connecticut, shed light on the injustice of tying teacher evaluation to high stakes testing, citing that it led to the destruction of sound pedagogical practices and had the potential to corrupt our classrooms as we felt compelled to teach to the test.

In our recent Superintendent Survey, ATF members were united in their desires for particular qualities in a leader for our district. (Complete breakdown of survey results.) Educators nearly unanimously had the following things to say (98-99% of respondents agreed with these statements).

Educators believe a next superintendent should:

  • Hold administrators accountable for a positive work-site culture.
  • Track staff turnover in the district, and at individual sites, and use that information to focus on retention strategies for every employee group.
  • Demand accountability for each and every APS department to have a service-to-schools (and employees) orientation, provide timely and accurate responses and be respectful in their interactions.
  • Improve communication between district departments and improve the communication flow from district administration to practitioners and vice versa.
  • Ensure that there is a pervasive customer (i.e. employee) service orientation in each department and department personnel have an attitude that central office is there to support schools, not the other way around.
  • Support strong, site-based shared leadership, the creation of innovative schooling models, and teacher autonomy to use innovative methods and materials to engage students.
  • Address workload issues. (For some time, educators have described their workload as “unmanageable.” Many teachers report frustration about tasks that do not directly inform teaching and learning or improve outcomes for children.)
  • Promote and advocate for our district.
  • Focus on supportive and positive employee working conditions.
  • Provide schools with individualized supports and resources based on the unique needs of students.
  • Be a strong manager, or hire one.
  • Collaborate and innovate with the employees’ unions.
  • Execute proactive public relations.

Educators believe that the next superintendent should work to create a system of schools rather than a school system. In a system of schools, the central office and offshoots of the centralized administration know that they are there to support the employees who work every day with students. This is very different from the traditional “school system” where employees are viewed as being there to support the work of the district’s central office.

Our next superintendent will inherit a district in which we have a tradition of labor/ management collaboration at the district and the school level. Educators believe that the next superintendent must support the growth of school and classroom autonomy and innovation.

We, the APS certified educators, want a new superintendent who believes employees are not just people to manage, but professionals to collaborate with in order to best serve our students and our district.

We are worthy of a leader who:

  • speaks truth to power;
  • leads with heart;
  • has undeniable moral fiber;
  • is courageous;
  • dreams with us;
  • is more committed to doing what’s right than doing what is wrong in the right way.

One person can influence the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors of an entire district. The right superintendent will:

  • set a direction as they help us see possibilities instead of barriers;
  • enable us to visualize what we might achieve;
  • encourage and inspire us.

APS will hold public forums once candidates are selected. Stay informed and add your voice.