Teachers, Parents Begin Taking Positions on S.D.'s New School Superintendent
The San Diego city school board picked a new superintendent over the weekend. Parents and teachers are starting to take positions on the type of reforms Terry Grier might bring to the district. KPBS R
(Photo: Students surround San Diego's news superintendent, Terry Grier. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS )
The San Diego city school board picked a new superintendent over the weekend. Parents and teachers are starting to take positions on the type of reforms Terry Grier might bring to the district. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has the story.
Terry Grier comes from the Guilford County School District, the third largest school district in North Carolina. He's gotten a lot of attention there because he developed reforms that drastically reduced dropout rates and increased graduation rates. But Grier admits the reforms that worked for Guilford won't necessarily work for San Diego. He plans to take a close look at the reforms former superintendent Carl Cohn already put in place to see if they're worth keeping.
Grier: My leadership style is a hands-on style. I believe in managing using results. I ask a lot of questions. I ask a lot of hard questions. And many times I will want to know why are we doing this if it’s not working.
Grier says one of his priorities will be to get a more elementary school kids reading at or above grade level. High school student John Jennings says he's behind that idea.
Jennings: Elementary is where it all begins. You know its showing that he cares for the little kids who are the potential leaders in the future.
But not everyone was excited about Grier's idea. Gloria Cooper represents families at Lincoln High School in southeast San Diego. She worries Grier will spend all his time on focusing on the younger grades and neglect the district's failing high school students.
Cooper: I think high schools in general really need to take a good look at what they are doing for their children. And what they are doing to close the achievement gap for 9th and 10th graders so we won't lose them by the 11th grade.
For his part Grier says it's far too early to commit to any comprehensive plan. He does intend to focus on graduation and dropout rates in San Diego as he did in North Carolina.
Grier says he also plans to focus on teacher turnover in low-performing schools. Grier tried to curb that trend in North Carolina by paying certain teachers extra money to stay in struggling schools. But San Diego's teachers union doesn't like that idea.
Camille Zombro is the union's president.
Zombro: We are absolutely, categorically opposed to merit pay, battle pay and any other sort of other insidious incentive schemes. Merit pay has never been a successful program anywhere it has been tried.
Zombro says she's willing to give Grier a chance. She just hopes he spends a lot more time listening during his first few months than moving ahead with big changes.
Grier says he's committed to spending his first 100 days listening to everyone in the community before he comes out with a plan. The new superintendent is expected to take the reigns in July.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.