Las Vegas Sun

September 2, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Look in Nevada for school leaders

Another view?

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I never write to the editor, but the search for a Clark County School District superintendent and a state superintendent of public instruction has stirred my interest.

We should rid ourselves of these so-called qualified educators who come here from faraway places. They haven’t lived here and, judging by their actions, don’t care about what happens here.

Nevada has a first-class college and university system accompanied by a highly ranked law school. Surely one or two of the other 2 million or so Nevadans are qualified for these two positions. In the Army, when the commander leaves, the second in command takes over.

How about 25-year veteran Pat Skorkowsky for one? School Board President Carolyn Edwards said she wants a rich pool of talent to pull from. That pool is Nevada.

State the qualifications required and put the applications out around the state.

Surely a few qualified, caring Nevadans will show up for the jobs.

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Previous Discussion: 14 comments so far…

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  1. Nevadans can spend $200,000 for a study to determine the needed upgrades for the Stadium at UNLV but can't spend $50,000 to do a head hunt for the best Super. Penny wise and dollar foolish.

    Carmine D

  2. There has been only marginal improvement, if any, in Nevada schools in the past ten years. So, point out the Nevadan with a record of accomplishment that fits our needs. They might be competent professionals but they've had a shot at really improving our results and haven't made the grade.

  3. I'm with Jim on this one. And it will take more than 5 years to turn education around in Nevada. Five years is the time Pat Skorkowsky has before he retires.

    Carmine D

  4. For too long, we have been running the schools 'their way.' The superintendent must have these and that 'qualifications,' these and that 'experiences', and these and that 'personality.' And where are we?

    We have been managing by cliches. We have been running the schools based on 'what has been proven works,' yet we are still where we are decades into this type of thinking.

    We need a shift in the leadership paradigm. We need to lead schools with unproven methods. We have been leading from top to bottom, with the bottom simply told to do this and that. For any change to take root, those who will be involved in making them MUST be involved in planning them. Power is so intoxicating that peole hang on to it and become addicted. That is not leadership.

    Leadership is allowing people to realize the problem on their own and facilitating a culture to allow them to find solutions. This requires an excellent communication skills and an ability of painting a compelling picture of what we are aiming for, how to get there, and to know we have arrived.

    For the past 25 years, all I see are posturing, politics, and avarice. Meanwhile children are not graduating or graduating with less than ideal preparation for what is ahead of them. Meanwhile we are cheating our children.

    Leadership by cliche. It does not work. Yes, experience is a good teacher, however each new situation has new challenges and different players of a different time and space. Maybe we need to start examining that proverbial box outside.

  5. I do not know if the Board has formulated its desired outcomes but I sure haven't seen any listing in the media. What, exactly [or even generally] does the community want? Better graduation rates? More students passing the proficiency exams? More students in Honors and AP classes? More CCSD students passing Nevada college entry exams? Fewer fights and disciplinary episodes? More schools making AYP [or have we given up on that ridiculous statistical nightmare]? The Board needs to hire Superman/woman because they, themselves, are probably unqualified to set policy and provide guidance for an enterprise the size and complexity of CCSD. The pointy-heads, politicians and Elaine Wynn threw their dogs in the fight and we got......Dwight Jones who did not last even the average big city Super tenure of 39 months.

    Much has been made of the perceived and alleged failures of CCSD but I see little enumeration of the successes. A majority of students pass proficiency exams and graduate, and remember that over the past four years those exams have been made more challenging and science has been added. Many of the graduates are in some type of post-secondary education, many are working, most have taken on the mantle of adult responsibility are meeting the challenges. Is our future as a community and a nation better served by putting our limited resources into the successful and potentially successful or into the failures? Make no mistake, it is not society's fault that many of the drop-outs and failures ended up as they did. Some simply lack the intellectual capacity to comprehend complex principles and processes. Some lack the desire. Some fell prey to the lure of shallow and vapid contemporary culture. Some had little or no appropriate adult guidance.

    Expecting major improvement in outcomes when you are unwilling or unable to change the environment suggests that the policy makers are disconnected from reality. Before deciding on a new Super, you need to decide what you can actually achieve and what you'll need to get there.

  6. We have nothing to loose with keeping Pat Skorkowsky on the job for CCSD Superintendent.The past couple of Superintendents did not make any noticeable improvements in the CCSD,while holding down the superintendent position. We all may be very suprised at how well Mr.Skorkowsky performs.

  7. Don't worry, Elaine Wynn & Maureen Peckman are already out hand picking the next carpet bagger, anti-worker, privatizer superintendent for the board of trustees to "choose." Both woman, knowing little about education systems but having billions of dollars at their disposal, will coach their pick on whats in the best interest of the privileged rich right up until they instruct the trustees to appoint their guy. (Exactly like they did last time.) Then the trustees will, with huge fanfare, appoint the person they were told to appoint. (Exactly like they did with Dwight Jones.) The public will be ignored and as a reward Elaine Wynn & Maureen Peckman will tell all their filthy rich friends to donate to the trustees campaign accounts; past campaign finance records show that they will donate and quite heavily.

  8. Pat Skorkowsky just received a 44 percent salary increase. His annual salary before perks is over $200,000. 44 percent? Really? As interim Super? Sounds like it's a done deal. He's got the job for the next 5 years [or less if he leaves early] when he'll retire at the higher pension amount. When will Nevadans learn? Probably never.

    Carmine D

  9. @Carmine....it certainly does look as though the fix is in for Mr. Skorkowsky. The Board will likely leave the "interim" label on for a while to see how he does, then, barring disasters, will make the move permanent. In my view that is probably a good thing...a known candidate, reasonably well respected, minimal baggage, knows the playing field. Given the contentious nature of Jones' tenure a little stability will go a long way.

  10. We need leaders but much more than that we need K-12 teachers who can follow directions, listen, accept leadership and STOP yammering about their best interests. We need to put students and taxpayers first. Lengthen the school year and lengthen the school day so kids get more exposure to your wisdom.

  11. With the recent departure of CCSD superintendent Dwight Jones,he leaves behind a yearly income of $396,000 with benefits.

    With the recent temporary appointment of Pat Skorkowsky as the CCSD superintendent,his pay with the 44% increase he just received will be right at $212,000 with benefits.That's $ 184,000 in savings between the two superintendents [Jones and Skorkowsky] a year. That does not include the $50,000 -$100-000 in savings in trying to find a replacement.

    Sounds like a win-win situation for the CCSD,when you stop and think that we did not improve our schools performance or position with our last two superintendents,who both enjoyed large salaries and benefits.

    Pat Skorkowsky needs everyone's help in moving forward with his plans for or school district.

  12. "a little stability will go a long way."

    Pat:

    Stability, another word for status quo, is not needed for a Super in CCSD. A Super who will shake things up is needed. A 25 year CCSD veteran like Pat Skorkowsky is not the one.

    Carmine D

  13. Please give "Interim" CCSD Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky a chance to prove himself. As Commenter Sam Pizzo exhorts, "Pat Skorkowsky needs everyone's help in moving forward with his plans for our school district."

    We all can do our parts in helping CCSD improve. Visit your neighborhood school and ask them what you can do, or contact the PTA and ask. Parent and public involvement with and in our schools is at an all time low. The students notice the absence and lack of support.

    Our mission should be to do what it takes to help each child succeed, by whatever means.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  14. Star,

    Thank you for your support for the CCSD and Pat Skorkowsky,he needs all the help he can get.Your imput is greatly appreciated and valued.