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  • Wednesday, February 20, 2013


    Studies do not back Surridge OUSD claims

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/   Independent insight into OUSD
    Studies do not back Surridge claims and plans

    A recent article by Ed Source, an independent online forum that responds to key education challenges and innovations in California and nationally, does not back Orange Unified Board President Tim Surridge controversial claims that a higher number of the school board trustees impacts the turn-over of district superintendents.

    At the January 17, 2013 OUSD Board Meeting Surridge stated studies  showed the more school board members on a school board result in a higher turnover of superintendents.  Using this logic, Surridge is seeking to eliminate two OUSD Trustee positions.  He has scheduled a “discussion” for his plan to eliminate two trustess for Thursday’s February 21 OUSD School Board  meeting.

    The December 12, 2012 online article titled “Survey finds high superintendent turnover in large California districts” summarizes and links to the most recent studies.  The article states:

    During a period of eroding financial stability, many of the state’s largest districts also faced leadership instability.
    Between 2006 and 2009, 71 percent of superintendents in California’s largest districts and 45 percent of all superintendents left their jobs, according to a survey of 215 districts randomly selected from the state’s approximately 1,000 districts. The survey covers well more than half of the state’s largest districts – those with more than 29,000 students in 2005–06.

    Nothing in any of the cited studies relates to the number of school board members and the turn over of superintedents.

    In fact the main problem is not the number of trustees, but the overall relationship between the board as a whole and the superintedent as summarized in the article:

    The “honeymoon” with the school board lasts between 12 and 18 months, he said, before “political interests and dysfunction show up.” A board may have hired a superintendent to institute reforms, but when interest groups such as unions or community organizations complain, the elected board gets uncomfortable, Wood said.
    Becca Bracy Knight, executive director of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems in Los Angeles, which trains superintendents, said turnover happens when superintendents and boards “don’t have alignment from the outset to weather what happens when there is change.”

    The most recent study linked  in the Ed Source article is Why Superintendents Turn Over”  by
    Jason A. Grissom  of  Vanderbilt University and Stephanie Andersen  of Washington University in St. Louis published in the  American Educational Research Journal. The scholarly study delves deeply into the relationships between superintendent and school boards, but nowhere mentions the number of school board members in relation to any of the numerous reasons the study found for problems between the superintendents and school boards.

    The study results in a complicated matrix of reasons for high superintendent turn over. None of which relate to the number of school board members as Surridge claims.

    The study also concludes that “home grown” superintendents with a history in the district stay far longer then recruited superintendents from outside a district.

    American Educational Research Journal LINK: Why Superintendents Turn Over

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