The easiest and probably most accurate quote to explain the accusations that School Board members meddled in daily operations of the district is this:

“Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Tainted as the Grand Jury report might be, even those folks acknowledged the existence of corrupt and incompetent district staff.

The report points to both the corruption and ineptitude over the last fifteen to twenty years but misses the reasoning for the Board’s conflicts with the various Superintendents.

Combine such a corrupt and inept staff with District Superintendents who were absolutely incapable of holding subordinates accountable or taking effective steps to solve the problems and a real vacuum of power is inevitable.

Today we have a new School Board and it’s time for the members to think different.

Albert Einstein said it best when he told us that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the results to be different.”

Rather than hiring an educator for Superintendent, it might be time to look at the alternate qualification for Superintendent candidates.

If you think it can’t be done, read on…  (from

“Retired Major General John Henry Stanford had no previous experience in education leadership when he interviewed for control of the Seattle public schools. But 30 years in the military taught him how to lead, and it was this experience which caught the eye of the Seattle public school system. In 1995 he was selected to be the first black superintendent of the Seattle public schools, a system serving more than 47,000 students. His mission: to restore public trust in the city’s school system and to keep what is left of the middle class from fleeing to the suburbs. During his term he has instituted a number of groundbreaking reforms and has begun to transform his school system.”

“Some may question why the Seattle school system found the retired major general to be their ideal candidate. Stanford himself told Jet that he was hired because of his proven leadership abilities. “That’s my strength, to lead in this business of education. I bring a business leadership approach to solving educational problems.” As he proclaimed to the school board during the interview process, “Give me a mission and I will get it done.” Clearly, he remains replete with military efficiency and focus, despite the fact that he now considers himself in a “talk-about-it” rather than “do-it” organization like the Army–and he still habitually clicks his heels when meeting people.”

“Stanford inherited a Seattle school district that was afflicted with many problems common to urban city school districts. Between a swollen bureaucracy and a greedy teachers’ union, little money flowed through to the classroom. The previous superintendent, in fact, had left amidst allegations of misusing public funds. At the same time, Seattle’s immigrant population was continuing to grow, test scores were uneven, and buildings were aging and costly to maintain. Public school enrollment, moreover, had dropped in half, from 100,000 students to 47,000 students in the last 30 years. While smaller family size contributed to the downsizing of the student population, the migration to private and parochial schools also played a significant role. In fact, statistics in a 1996 Forbes Magazine article showed that half of those teachers with household incomes around $70,000 send their children to private schools. As Terry McDermott of the Seattle Times aptly expressed, “Schools are forever dealing with the consequences of other people’s actions.”

You can read the entire article about John Stanford here.

Do any of those inherited conditions remind you of any nearby school districts?

The point is that Stanford became one of the finest Superintendents his school district ever seen and when he died of Leukemia in 1998, the entire community stopped to honor the Superintendent who turned a failing and corrupt district around.

The difference was that Stanford understood both discipline and real world leadership, unlike the kind of leadership the Broward School district has seen to date.

It can be done.

The only question is: “Does the School Board have the will to do it?”