A strong pick to run Boston's schools

Monday, March 17, 2014

The search for a new Boston school superintendent will easily uncover candidates with more charisma than interim superintendent John McDonough. But so would leafing through a phone book. Undoubtedly, there are more accomplished educators out there. McDonough doesn’t even pretend to be an educator per se. Before taking up his current post in May, he served for 18 years as the school system’s chief financial officer. And it’s hard to assess the multicultural competency of someone who spends so much time with spreadsheets.

Yet there is a growing feeling around town that the 62-year-old McDonough might be the best person to lead Boston’s schools. A Wheelock College education blog post cites McDonough for leading "a quiet revolution." CommonWealth Magazine praises him for his “bold and risky move to change the way the school system hires its teachers." Even Boston University dean Hardin Coleman, the co-chair of the search committee, quipped that he has “a professional crush on John McDonough."

It would be awkward, to say the least, to suspend the search just as the public hearings on a new superintendent are getting underway. But if the academic achievement of Boston students, ability to judge talent, and staff devotion were the main criteria for the job, then the search committee could pack up and go home.

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