Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Those of you who subscribe to the Sun read in yesterday’s Column that Assistant Superintendent Jay Lang did not make the cut as a finalist for the Lowell School Superintendent position because he was “blacklisted by union members on the screening committee.” When I read that I wondered what were the motivations of the individual(s) who made that suggestion to the paper. I do not think that assessment is correct. I am not disputing the fact that one or more School Committee members told the Sun reporter that they would have liked to see Lang on that list but if they are the ones who implied to Paul Georges and the other two union members controlled the rest of the screening committee members is folly.
Here is the list of the 15-voting committee members and their affiliations: Fred Abisi, Lowell School Administrators Association; Danielle Bergeron, Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce; Anushareddy Chemicala, student at LHS; James Cook, the Lowell Plan; Colleen Cox, Middlesex Community College; Paul Georges, UTL; Anita Greenwood, UMass, Lowell; Rev. Cecilio Hernandez, Immigration Commission; Sidney Liang, CPC; Kathleen McLaughlin, UTL; George Petereson, Parent Special Education Advisory Council; Kim Scott, CPC; Michael Sheehan, custodian’s union; Liam Skinner, Principal at the Daley School; Rithy Uong, CMAA.
As you can see it is a good cross section of our community. Perhaps Lang’s lack classroom/educator experience did not work in his favor. And those of us who occasionally watch the School Committee meetings and have seen him interact with the SC may describe him as wonkish and knowledgeable in his area, school finances.
The screening committee was charged with bringing forth the names of the top 5 qualified candidates. In retrospect, perhaps the SC should have stated that if any of the Deputy Superintendents apply, they automatically get interviewed. But then it would have eliminated one political discussion (in-house candidates get slighted) and replaced it with another (in-house candidates get the inside track). The process used was the same one as when we selected Chris Augusta Scott and Karla Brooks Baehr before her.
On another note, I had mentioned on the City Life show last week that I thought the SC may have reserved the right to add a name to the list. But that is not accurate. All 5 candidates will be interviewed by the entire School Committee who has had already an opportunity to hear these five. As you may recall, the SC had agreed that they could sit in to observe the non-public questioning conducted by the screening committee. The SC’s interviews will be public and they will take place during a marathon session this Saturday starting at 9:00 a.m. in City Council chambers and I am sure they will be televised live on our local access cable station, LTC.
I have learned the hard way not to speculate about the strength and weakness of candidates for Superintendents or City Managers. Neither current City Manager Bernie Lynch nor current School Superintendent Scott had the inside track when they applied for their respective position. But they both had excellent public interviews. So, I will wait to see what happens on Saturday before I let the speculation begin.
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