Who’s Your Daddy? A superintendent or the District Management Council?

January 12, 2016

What a long, strange trip it’s been…and it’s not even over yet.

The Minneapolis Public Schools’s communications department received flak back in November for shooting out a press release that seemed to compare the district’s ongoing superintendent search to a reality TV show:

Super Search! For 30 days, it’ll be the district’s hottest show. Six candidates vying for one position: Superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). Watch as the Directors of the Board of Education decide who gets the passing grade.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Who has the skills and experience to lead MPS into a future of growth and prosperity? The answer will be revealed through a series of interviews, school tours, and community meetings.

30 days?! What shockingly low expectations. This super search has gone on for months now, and is supposed to end tonight, with the board finally choosing someone to lead the district. Or, perhaps, choosing to call the whole thing off and start over (as a community-driven petition asked them to do, back in December).

Will it be the board-approved candidate, Dr. Sergio Paez, who came to town last week to immerse himself in some Minnesota (N)ice? Or will it be Michael Goar, the interim candidate that could just be waiting in the shadows for another shot at his dream job? Or someone whose name has yet to even cross our lips?

Either way, Michael Goar is said to be heading to New York City on January 13, for an exclusive strategy session with the District Management Council (DMC), according to a report by local news outlet Alpha News (Goar’s name is also listed on the “participant” list on DMC’s website). Remember DMC? They are the Boston-based education consultants behind MPS’s special ed shake up and the flawed and mysterious super special new budget formula that Goar and his executive team could never quite seem to explain. This cost of this advice? A $1 million contract with the Minneapolis schools. 

Will a relaxing cruise be next for DMC and their “members”?

But MPS’s connection with DMC goes much deeper than this big dollar contract. MPS administrators have also attended DMC executive John J-H Kim’s Harvard summer camp for school district leaders, the Public Education Leadership Program, and MPS is one of DMC’s “member districts.” 

Districts across the country pay upwards of $25,000 per year to wine and dine with Kim and his DMC staffers, far from the maddening world of classroom teaching. This week, in New York, DMC’s list shows that Goar will be joined by 19 other Minnesota superintendents, as well as district leaders from several other states. Eighty-seven districts, total, will be there, and 20 of them are from Minnesota. Nice showing from the Gopher state!

If you want to get a look inside the minds of DMC, who clearly know how to separate public school districts from their precious and always scarce funds, take a look at the titles of the 2016 Superintendents’ Strategy Summit being held in New York. Here’s a couple of great-sounding ones (the subtitles are my own, and not officially endorsed by DMC):

  • Top Opportunities for Freeing Up Funds (and sending them to DMC)
  • Winning Support for Shifting Resources (to DMC)
  • Persuasive Communications Strategies (or, How to Convince the Public that DMC is Great)

So, as the public and the Minneapolis school board engage in extensive hand-wringing over who will be the district’s next leader, business goes on as usual.

Perhaps question number one for any potential, permanent superintendent should be this:

Will you, or will you not, cut all ties with the District Management Council?

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4 thoughts on “Who’s Your Daddy? A superintendent or the District Management Council?

  1. Dan McGuire

    I’m guessing Goar will be doing some serious networking to land another job at a district that doesn’t care that he doesn’t know anything about teaching and learning. I think he’s also more than a little slim on leadership development, which should be one of the key abilities of a superintendent of a district the size of the MPS. We haven’t had anyone developing future leaders for the district for many years, which is why the district is in this current mess and why they think they need to spend money to go to New York City (pronounced as in the salsa commercial.)

  2. Concerned Parent

    Parents and education advocates nationwide should keep a running list of superintendents and school system staff that attend DMC events so when our school systems interview candidates for superintendent we will know which ones have been indoctrinated by the DMC and make decisions for our school systems accordingly!

  3. Chris Krupiarz

    I find it ironic that DMC has this “summit” in NYC — one of (the?) most expensive places in the US to have a conference — while at the same time hocking a book on their website entitled “Spending Money Wisely: Getting the Most from School District Budgets.”

  4. MPS Parent

    All this climate is so dissapointing. Children are the priority but the environment and actions we have seen tell MPS parents otherwise. Our children are not graduating, testing scores are the worst, families are struggling in endless ways…but all we see is a political debate (circus) and actions driven by it.


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