Don McKee: Hinojosa has full plate with managing Cobb County Schools
by Don McKee
Columnist
July 10, 2011 11:59 PM | 1470 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
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Dr. Michael Hinojosa has a plate full of issues facing him today as he takes on the challenge of managing the Cobb County School District. Heading the list should be restoring public trust in the district, which he says is one of his top priorities.

That gets to the heart of the matter for the Cobb system.

It’s not enough to have a better plan or strategy, a point made a few days ago by interim Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis, the retired University System of Georgia chancellor hired to do a massive cleanup after the APS test-cheating scandal.

“No matter what strategy you adopt, culture will always trump strategy,” Davis was quoted in news reports. “I believe we must change the culture of the organization. We have to move to a more open, more transparent and more empowering culture.” He stressed the “demand that we listen more, that we engage our partners more.”

To his credit, Dr. Hinojosa has already said restoring the people’s trust in the school district is high on his to-do list. In a May visit to Cobb, he told Journal reporters he will do a lot of listening to staff, parents and others from the community with a plan to listen to a hundred people in his first three months on the job.

After all the listening, he will have to do more than merely shake up the central office. Starting at the top, he must dismantle the old culture piece by piece to:

 Get rid of the culture of manipulation and hide-and-seek by superintendents playing one school board member against another and hiding information from the board and the public to maintain control. Too often in the past, board members have played the role of puppets or potted plants.

 Get rid of the “love it or lump it” approach by superintendents making decisions without asking the green light or even informing the board — decisions such as introducing the 3-2-1 grading system in the lower grades without a vote by the board and changing the Iowa Test of Basic Skills from eighth to seventh grade without a word of discussion by the board.

 Get rid of the habit of the central office hiding information — such as a district website poll showing overwhelming opposition to the 3-2-1 grading change that was kept from the public by the superintendent for six months. Ditto for the old habit of some school board members shading or hiding the truth and launching personal attacks on other members.

The new culture has to be one in which the superintendent works for the school board, not vice versa. Dr. Hinojosa apparently agrees, saying he believes “the board sets the ‘what’ and the administration figures out the ‘how.’”

Here’s hoping the new super can figure out how to transform old bad habits into a new, transparent and vibrant culture to make sure, as he said, that all the students in Cobb public schools can be successful.

dmckee9613@aol.com

Comments
(6)
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News for Don
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July 13, 2011
The super works for the students, parents and

teachers of Cobb County, and so does the school

board; least they forget.
frogbreath
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July 13, 2011
I said it before, I repeat--"This will end badly".

Be prepared for the bilingual agenda.
open meetings
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July 12, 2011
Hinojosa will first have to deal with the private meetings from Bartlett, Angelucci, Sweeney and Stultz. Oh yea, their two advisors too. Rest assured, there are parents like me who are watching and we are not happy with what is going on. wait until some of these private emails are seen by the public.
anonymous
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July 12, 2011
Ya think Fred will be back in town with something to sell?

I found it very interesting at middle school info night that the MAJORITY of the teachers that spoke about different subject areas said that they NEVER use the textbook nor its online accompaniment. WHAT?!? Why are we paying for this expensive curriculum materials if they are not used???
Aloha for Two
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July 11, 2011
Since he has retired, is Fred on vacation in Hawaii with Dr. Beverly Hall from the Atlanta Public School System? Gosh, I wonder what they are discussing.
Oh Don
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July 11, 2011
What an optimistic fairy tale, given the facts and conditions under which he left the Dallas system hanging. Amid scandals and repeated incidents of going behind his board's back, what ever makes you think he'll do better here?

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck....
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