As the head of a school in the city, I fully understand that school systems should conduct hiring practices that indicate that every educational leadership vacancy has been fully vetted and every possible qualified candidate has been considered both within and outside of the school system. This is certainly true of the superintendent's position.
However, there are times when such a common sense maxim actually does not make sense. In the case of the Pittsburgh Public Schools it makes perfect sense that the school board chose not to waste the community's time and resources by conducting a national search for a new superintendent, especially at this urgent moment. I have no doubt that hiring or even considering an outsider for this position meant that all of the Herculean and groundbreaking work that has been accomplished over the past five years would be "up for grabs" if the board even considered an outsider.
Although not involved with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, I make it my business as a citizen and educator to follow its progress closely. What has been accomplished by departing superintendent Mark Roosevelt has been truly remarkable, and yet the plan is only beginning to unfold. It surprises me that the Post-Gazette would endorse a national search ("Change Agent: Lane's Challenge Is to Continue School Progress," Dec. 12 editorial).
I was relieved to learn that Mr. Roosevelt had confidence in Linda Lane and that he apparently hired her as a possible successor. That Mr. Roosevelt was a politician with the moxy to initiate an educational reform in our city was remarkable; that Dr. Lane is an educator with the classroom background and educational training to carry the plan through is a perfect scenario.
I completely agree with the Post-Gazette that Dr. Lane is a person that the community should rally around. One of the tragedies of public education is that leadership cannot be sustained at the superintendent level. Pittsburgh has a unique opportunity to sustain a movement. Dr. Lane must be protected and supported.
GARY J. NIELS
Head of School
Winchester Thurston School