[LCSD] Where’s the diversity?

A question:  Who was the last LCSD Superintendent that wasn’t a white male over 50?

… please note this is not denigrating the individuals who have served as Superintendent.  The question is about something else.  See if you can figure out what.

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16 Comments on “[LCSD] Where’s the diversity?”

  1. Tracy Says:

    Well, until there is a significant population to be served by other representations, white superintendents would be appropriate for Lebanon. However, there being no female superintendents is a cause for concern, unless there have been no qualified applicants. Of course that would mean going into the search process and looking to see if there was an attempt to find such an applicant. Obviously you can’t find one if you are not looking. Given the general attitude of the community, I would think she would have to be “home-grown” in order to have a chance. Hopefully the new replacement search is including an outreach to female candidates.

  2. Dennis Says:

    WHAT?!

    Why in the world does the Superintendent have to be white just because the majority of students are white? That makes no sense to me whatsoever….

  3. Observer Says:

    Who cares? Just hire the best candidate! Damn!

  4. Tracy Says:

    If you want to reflect the understandings of the society you lead you need to know where the mores and ideals come from. I could no more understand the oppression of an african american community then they could a white society. It is the argument used all the time in promoting minorities to positions in government. How could a man understand the sensitivities of a woman during pregnancy? I can, you can’t Dennis. The same would be true of a superintendent. The person should reflect the group they are going to lead at least tangentially. Any white middle-class person would do better for Lebanon than a African American. You must relate to those you lead in order to be successful. It is called sensitivity to the people. This is not racism, it is a matter of understanding where your constituents are coming from when you interact with them.

  5. Joe the color blind Says:

    To Tracy,

    Nice try, but how well did Mr. Robinson ‘understand’ this community? Who says that you have to be raised someplace, someway, to ‘understand’ and thus lead within any given community? Good leadership is good leadership. PERIOD.
    Your argument that ‘the person should reflect the group they are going to lead…’ just justifies that existing power structure and limited understandings of said structure.

  6. Dennis Says:

    Tracy, by your logic, only white people should hold any sort of national office or position, since the US is majority white. Is that really what you’re saying – that all Presidents, Vice Presidents, Cabinet-level positions, etc. should only be held by white people?

  7. anonymous Says:

    Dicey, Tracy. This line of logic has been the underpinning of history’s most ugly institutions.

    Another possibility: An attentive outsider may be better able to recognize that which is very local. Like when you go to the midwest from here- you can hear the accent and notice that everyone takes an interest in the farm report. A local would deny that there is an accent and be surprised that farm reports don’t lead the news throughout the country.

    Tracy, a question. What do you think of the recent conversation that Lebanon schools need to get back to where they were ten years ago?

  8. Tracy Says:

    No. You are looking at simple majority. I rather see if a population is 80% White, its leadership should reflect that. Remember South Africa apartheid? It was not okay to have even benevalent leadership in that case. I would like to see someone that reflects the group they are leading. In the U.S. case, if you don’t break it down specifically, the minority population is larger than the white population. Even if not, I go by the Constitution’s goal, if two-thirds agree then that is policy. Thus if you are representing a group that is two-thirds one orientation, you should reflect that group. I am Norwegian I do not ever see anyone reflect my standards in office. Or I could say I am female and repeat that statement. But that is not my point really. In Lebanon, you have a low SES, rural group. I would want someone that knows how that group thinks to lead. I would not want an affluent, metropolis white person in Lebanon as superintendent either. The thinking and expectations are different. I think that was part of Mr. Robinson’s problem. He came he, I believe, with good intentions. What he didn’t take into account was how small towns react to change. Especially economically depressed towns that already have their backs up thinking the world is against them. The people of Lebanon did not see the value in what Mr. Robinson was trying to do and he did not know the culture well enough to get them to go along with the ideas. Again, a leader needs to know the culture in order to be successful. And not from an academic point of view.

  9. Dennis Says:

    Tracy, a few points:

    1) The U.S. population is roughly 66% white, according to Wikipedia. In your terms, then, the minority population is not bigger than the white population.

    2) Are you making an essentialist argument? That is, do you think it’s possible for someone from an urban background to learn about a place like Lebanon and be an effective member of the community, or is it impossible? Does this hold true for race and ethnicity? What about sex and gender?

  10. anonymous Says:

    Man, Dennis, you need to go looking for more trouble in this town?

    Forcing a settlement package made up of school money on a ‘white male over 50’ because the School Board, “couldn’t work with him,” isn’t inefficient enough for you?

    Having a School Board that doesn’t follow it’s own policies without the people constantly keeping any eye on them isn’t both time-consuming and frustrating enough for you?

    Wanting to go back in time, to the “good old days,” isn’t crazy-thinking enough for you?

    Being small-minded towards “outsiders” isn’t bigoted enough for you?

    You ARE hard to please.

  11. Dennis Says:

    On the contrary, it sounds like the interim Super is a good choice. I’m more curious in the overall candidate pool and the fact that there has likely never been a Super who isn’t a white male. The history and the macro, rather than the micro and the present, in other words. And it was – and is – a question, not a suggestion.

    Besides, I think the question is revealing. Look at the responses it’s engendered so far.

  12. anonymous Says:

    Observer @ November 14, 2008 at 4:24 pm says: Who cares? [About color] Just hire the best candidate!

    I agree.
    Does it matter if the person is, say, purple, if they are the most qualified applicant?
    I don’t believe we should, or should not, hire someone based on the color they were born with and have no control over; it’s not like any of us ordered our colors–“yeah, I’ll take that one please”.

    Side note: It seems a lot of people with fair skin are feeling mighty smug about their bigness in voting for Obama simply because he is black.
    “Look how far I’ve evolved ma!”
    That is no better than not voting for him for the same reason.
    Being the most qualified for the job is the thinking person’s criteria.
    I think a lot of people are being disrespectful of Obama and his ideas to make it about skin color.

  13. anonymous Says:

    If a woman, or a person of other than light skin, being equally qualified with other applicants, applied for this position and we turned them down, because of sex or color, then we would have an even more major problem on our hands then we already do.
    I don’t see anyone–of any sex, shape, size, or color, lining up to fill this position.
    In fact most were ASKED TO APPLY for the Interim Position in order to give a bigger pool to pick from as it was.

    You know, on second thought, maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.
    If we had a person of a different color as Superintendent then we could always blame all our ills on their color.
    If we had a woman we could blame all our ills on her hormones.
    If they were a woman of color—wow!–now we’re talking.
    We could have a built in scape-goat all lined up for our existing junk to spill over on.
    Oh, wait.
    Then they could sue and make it stick, Federal Laws and all that stuff are such a pain.
    Maybe we’d better not.

  14. Lebanontruth Says:

    Dennis,

    We find it interesting that so many of the comments are directed at the color issue and so few at the gender question. While there are few people of color in our community, roughly half are female.

    With respect to the selection of an interim superintendent, we do not find it surprising that none of the finalists were a “minority”. The applicant pool for an interim position would be entirely or nearly entirely made up of retired former educators. Of the applicants we saw, all except Ed Sansom, an in-district applicant, were retired.

    We presume that the number of retired educators in the region who are minorities is probably pretty small. The population of educators over 55 who have experience running a school district has to be overwhelming white. Among the few minority members of that pool, we wonder how many would choose to work in a rural community where there has been so much rancor. It could easily be true that no minority applied for the position.

    What we find more questionable is the lack of a female candidate. While we doubt that the percentage of female retired superintendents in the region is 50%, there still are some out there, including one from Albany. While we are willing to accept that no women were interviewed, we hope that a woman will be interviewed for the permanent position.

  15. Tracy Says:

    I think much of the problem with this discussion is the lack of perspective. I am female. I have had condescending attitudes expressed toward me. I have had people assume that I could not do a job because I am female. I have had comments about hormones raging during a dispute. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be African American in Lebanon. I know I have heard comments from students that it is okay to use the N-word now that Mr. Obama has been elected. My point originally, though apparently not well expressed is that Lebanon has a peculiar culture. One that is not easy to adjust to. Could a purple pregnant male succeed? Probably. Would the fact that they are purple, pregnant, and male be a detriment to their initial attempts. Yes. Why start from behind? Lebanon has enough problems that our new superintendent needs to address without taking the additional burden of discovering the attitudes. Learning about rural mindsets and the other issues. I think the interim choice is a good one. One major problem facing the high school at least is a lack of discipline and motivation. We have ineffectual administrators at the high school. I hope he uses his experience in the penal system to organize our policies and get us on the right track. Hopefully the permanent replacement will build upon this.

  16. anonymous Says:

    No females or minorities applied for the interim. A few who applied for the interim position were NOT retired. I hope women and minorities do apply for the permanent, but Lebanon is not exactly a big draw to the superintendent world according to the OSBA.


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