Interim super shows kind of commitment needed for the job
by Don McKee
April 14, 2014 04:00 AM | 1832 views | 6 6 comments | 45 45 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
The Cobb School Board is getting thumbs up all around for its choice of deputy superintendent Chris Ragsdale as the interim superintendent.

Let me join in applauding the board’s decision. From the comments by teachers, parents and community leaders, it’s clear that Ragsdale is popular with his “stakeholders.” As I said in this column when incumbent Michael Hinojosa decided to resign, the board should start its search in the district, and if the board could not find a qualified superintendent among Cobb educators, it would be a sad and alarming commentary on the county.

In my view, it’s in Ragsdale’s favor that he is not your usual career educrat. He has a B.S. in information systems from Kennesaw State and is in the executive MBA program of Shorter University. He’s known as a technocrat but — much more than that — a hands-on operational leader and he’s established his credentials on the job, overseeing technology, SPLOST, construction, maintenance and safety.

One of the first ringing endorsements came from John Adams, executive director of Educators First, a nonunion professional association representing many Cobb teachers. He spoke from the vantage point of a former teacher and human resources director for the district and as a former Cobb police officer. Adams has known Ragsdale for 11 years and has worked closely with him.

“He’s a technology and operations guy and that’s going to be at least as important to teachers as someone who has a more traditional background,” Adams said. He also called the choice of Ragsdale “a bold departure from the same old same old.” Turning the job over to him is “a great opportunity for the central office to restore the trust of the teachers and the people on the front lines,” Adams said.

Three cheers for a “bold departure from the same old same old.” That’s what the school district needs. If Ragsdale is as smart as his friends say he is, surely he can lead the way to a more effective administration — which means getting out of the way of teachers teaching. It would be great to see common sense leadership that focuses on allowing teachers to teach — instead of inundating them with forms and reports and all the paperwork that takes so much time.

Ragsdale couldn’t get a better recommendation than that of State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a Cobb school board veteran, the most educated observer and participant when it comes to school matters in this county. Tippins said Ragsdale is “insightful in his reasoning and decisive in his action,” and Cobb has a unique opportunity in that Ragsdale can “marry technology and education,” a key going forward because of changes driven by costs.

Ragsdale showed where his heart is when he stuck to his job for 36 hours straight during the January snowstorm trying to see that Cobb’s school children got home safely. That’s the kind of commitment we need in our superintendent.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
How Would You Know
April 15, 2014
I love how someone who has never spent a career in a school dedicated to improving students lives and then moves to a leadership position with the intent of helping others improve more student lives gets pegged with the pejorative term "educrat" as if it's some sort of horrible career path. The surgeon who after 25 years in the operating room goes to run the hospital is met with reverence and respect. The lawyer who after 25 years in the court room becomes a judge is esteem throughout the community. But gosh forbid, the educator teaches for 20 years, goes to central office and dares to aspire to lead a school district with the wealth of knowledge and experience they have amassed - they are an educrat who is to be cursed, and demonized. How sad.
April 16, 2014
No, I feel sure that there are medicalcrats and judgecrats, too. It depends on the individual. Bureaucrats in any field can cause unnecessary drama.
Classroom Educrat
April 14, 2014
I guess I'm an educrat too, but it sounds like we have a leader in our new super and that is what we need. The term educrat, in my opinion, describes a certain type of educator that is often self-absorbed in personal and often useless agendas. As a classroom teacher, I do not feel the term is being used for all educators.
Just Saying
April 14, 2014
As a lifetime educator, just a little offended by the terminology of these "outsiders" referring to me as an "educrat." I love what I do. My God-given talent is working with other people's children. To say that I'm serving in a field that is overworked and underpaid is an understatement. The last thing I need to be referred to is an "educrat." GEORGIA has made it that way. The only way I can get higher pay is to get a Master's or advance degree in teaching. I'd love to work on my Ph.D. in urban planning and business management, but in the state of GEORGIA those degrees won't count towards my advanced pay. The system has created "educrats." Maybe these "outsiders" should spend a day in our "educrat" shoes and create a better system that will get people excited about teaching again. Until then, I'll continue to be an "educrat" doing what I do best - teaching!
W Cobb
April 15, 2014
So glad you know your talent "working with other people's children". Too many in the central office may have the same talent as you but decided to make their day job running a multi-million dollar organization.
Just sayin'
April 15, 2014
An educator is not the same as an educrat:

Definition: educrat


Pronunciation: IPA(key): /ˈɛdʒəkræt/

Etymology: Blend of educator and bureaucrat


educrat (plural educrats)

1.(derogatory) An official or administrator in a school district.

So please don't take offense at the use of that word which is intended to describe an educator who has become a bureaucrat. It is derogatory in that it is usually intended to describe a possibly good educator who has become a probably poor bureaucrat.

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides