People want to see test scores rise, fast. Well, guess what? The kind of change required for that to happen causes pain. Lots. ALWAYS. Superintendents are brought in with the hope and expectation they’ll wipe away problems, and then, invariably, the community freaks out at the collateral damage.
Michelle Rhee is the latest to have her feet held to the fire in this regard, but it’s been happening to superintendents at districts large and small for years. J.H. Snider nailed it in this EdWeek commentary from 2006. I’m really big on the idea that journalists should be out in front on these kinds of issues. Well before the accusations and fury—before the appointments, even, if possible—they should do analytical reporting on what forms the pain of achieving new, high goals might take, and to what degree the community is prepared for it.