Interview Week

On Monday and Tuesday, the State Board of Education will meet in executive session to interview candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This is the most critical single decision that the Board makes, and it shouldn’t be prejudged.

Board members were provided nearly 900 pages of material on the 44 candidates who originally applied. I’ve posted links to the briefing books and identified the page numbers relating to the eight candidates being interviewed. Based on my reading of their files, I have an idea which of the candidates I would be inclined to support.

But one should never hire a Superintendent based on the candidates’ résumés and applications alone, and one should be wary of political pressure to hire a favored candidate. The Board members will meet them and have the opportunity to ask questions. It’s impossible to anticipate what will come up in the interviews.

I’ve included below my notes on reading the applications of the eight candidates.

Paolo DeMaria: Seems human, not a lot of technical jargon. Some of his consulting work has involved charter schools; I would want to make sure that he’s not enamored of privatization.

David C. Estrop: Some editing errors, but a well-organized letter that addresses the desired characteristics as published. Some of his work involves the Global Impact STEM Academy,  and I would want to know more about that.

Shonda Hardman: Doesn’t seem to be a serious candidate. Her poorly-edited letter sets forth the story of her experiences and odyssey, and while it’s inspirational it hardly demonstrates a knowledge of the issues she would face as State Superintendent.

Thomas P. Jandris: Short letter with organizational flaws that trots out many of the buzzwords and suggests he’s a Swiss army knife. Has history of working with NEA to make educational materials available to P-12 teachers. No mention of his having been a K-12 classroom teacher himself.

Thomas J. Lasley: Clearly identifies his priorities. Indicates discomfort with alternative licensure systems like TFA and Bright New Leaders for Ohio. Probably the most prolific writer of the group, he provides an extensive list of publications. He clearly believes in high-quality teacher education. In one article, he writes: “What do we tell that student with a 1300 SAT score who just entered an NCATE- accredited teacher education program? Teaching is a noble profession without autonomy? If you can work from a script, you can teach?”

Michael Sentance: Seems to know the difference between testing and achievement. The only one to mention need for an equitable finance system. Was an early architect of charter schools in Massachusetts. He is proud of his work establishing a merit pay system for administrators in Massachusetts.

Robert Sommers: Proud of his work as a “charter school leader.” He loves Ohio’s “reforms,” which suggests that he’s drunk the accountability/school choice kool-aid.

Tina Thomas-Manning: In her short letter, she writes about how proud she is of the work she did in Reynoldsburg, but that’s problematic since she was superintendent there during a disastrous strike. A big believer in value-added data, which implies that she’s committed to the use of testing data to drive education decisions.

This post originally appeared on the website of my 2016 campaign for State Board of Education,

Author: StgCoach

Retired teacher and public education leader. Pastoral musician, community activist, parliamentarian, and photographer.

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