Tell me this isn't true.
I've been meaning to write something about this news story but wanted to take some time to ponder my thoughts before penning something that was intelligent and not emotionally charged.
Earlier this month, Atlanta's Mayor (who has done a solid job as mayor by and large) was on record stating he has raised outside donations to boost the incoming Superintendent's salary to a whopping $600,000 per year! My first reaction was shock and muttering to myself: "Are you kidding me?" But let me explain why this is not the solution that Atlanta is looking for in persuading a best-in-class education leader to be interested in taking the job.
- No Superintendent should command such a salary
- With the governance structure of APS, unless a Superintendent will have the ability to implement a reform agenda, the person is set up for failure. Why take a huge salary when the probability of failure is so high?
- What message are we sending our community? That the only way to fix public education is to overpay a leader at the expense of funding the areas where it's needed the most, such as teachers and innovative learning tools driven by digital technology?
It seems to me that the Mayor has hijacked the recruiting process. I find it objectionable that he would equate the hiring of the superintendent to "hiring the head football coach at University of Georgia." The two business models couldn't be more different.
And there is research to support my perspective, not simply a non-educator expressing an opinion about the matter. I would point the mayor and his advisors to the following article from Harvard Business Review which clearly states the "the correlation between salary and job satisfaction is very weak." Moreover, the research shows as well as being commonly known that intrinsic motivation is a far stronger predictor of job performance than extrinsic motivation. What does that mean? It means that Mayor Reed is "rolling the dice" and lowering the probability that Atlanta will find the visionary leader it sorely needs.
We don't need a superintendent who is nearing retirement, as the Mayor believes. What Atlanta needs is a rising star - someone young and hungry who may have been an Assistant Superintendent in an urban district in the midst of a successful transformation strategy. Instead of hiring another Nick Saban, we should be looking for the next Thomas Dimitroff. But no leader will succeed in APS unless the stakeholders give her the autonomy to be a change agent. And unfortunately, that's just not going to happen - not when a school system spends $150 million on one high school.