'Turnaround' czar needed
Arizona Republic
March 8, 2008


We're looking to hire the best school administrator in Arizona and have nothing to offer this top performer but four of the lowest-performing schools in the state.

We're looking for a mini-superintendent to oversee four schools within the Roosevelt Elementary School District in south Phoenix.

We're looking for a fearless person with a passion for the most important work in the nation: to find, inspire and lead teachers to educate the next faltering generation before it, too, falls into poverty.

In the past few months, readers from Anthem to Ahwatukee have learned about the troubles at Roosevelt. But the problems are not of recent vintage. They have divided the community and worried parents for decades. In recent years, they have led to an unprecedented exodus of thousands of students to other districts, charter and parochial schools in the area. There are almost as many charter schools in south Phoenix as there are in all of Mesa.

The "turnaround administrator" will assume daily operations of T.G. Barr, Brooks Academy, Sierra Vista and Cesar Chavez schools. These are the schools designated as "failing" by the state Department of Education. And if you check the 2007 AIMS test scores, you can see why. If you follow the scores through the eight grades, the longer the kids are in these schools, the worse they do matched to their peers. For example, 67 percent of the Brooks Academy third-graders "met or exceeded" state standards in reading, but only 39 percent of its eighth-graders did.

When the "employment opportunity" listing comes out, it will say the "Partner Administrator" will report to the state Board of Education, assume daily operational control of the schools. Roosevelt District will pay half the salary, the state the other half. The turnaround czar will be in charge of curriculum, instruction and assessment, and is supposed to have full authority to make staff changes.

Sounds like a job full of trap doors and blind alleys.

Or a job they make movies about - and change lives.

Who is the best school administrator in the Valley or state we can find? Let's recruit some of them to apply for Roosevelt.

The contact? Kimberly Allen, deputy associate superintendent at ADE, in charge of school improvement and intervention. Contact her with a suggestion at kimberly.allen@azed.gov. - Wedneday