News and Speeches

Department Announces New Criteria for School Superintendents

7/8/2014

Change Requires Additional Experience for Superintendents 

New Grant Provides Training for Expanded Professional Development and Instructional Practice to Support Principals

NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced changes to Chancellor’s Regulation C-37 (Selection of Community Superintendents) which will raise the qualification standards and expectations for superintendents. Superintendents must have at least ten years of pedagogic experience, including at least three as a principal, and must have a proven record of success   advancing student learning and facilitating community involvement and input in the schools. These changes demonstrate the Chancellor’s commitment to the role of superintendents as community and instructional leaders ensuring quality in our schools.

The changes to the regulations also increase the rigor and objectivity of the selection process through an improved online application. Applicants will submit essays and references, requiring candidates to demonstrate an ability to support principal leadership, and emphasizing that, once hired, superintendents will continue to further student learning and engage parents and families. Along with the C-37 changes, Chancellor Fariña announced a $750,000 grant from the Wallace Foundation for the training and support of superintendents so that they can provide professional development for principals.

“As a former principal and superintendent, I understand the necessary skills needed for these important and challenging jobs,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “For superintendents to best support principals and school communities, they truly need that firsthand experience. These changes will empower community superintendents to provide additional support at all levels of the school system as they work closely with principals, students, and parents to make our schools the best they can be. These changes serve our greatest goal of directly improving classroom learning for students across the City.”

“It’s almost impossible to know how to improve schools if you haven’t done it and this change shows that experience counts. The way to be an effective superintendent is through high-level experiences,” said Board of Regents Member Lester Young, a former superintendent. “Superintendents can provide the necessary supports in the system to help principals, and these changes recognize that and ensure that superintendents will have the experience they need to help schools succeed.”

“This approach embraces what educators have been wanting for years.  It returns the professionalism and expertise that superintendents should have in this position and allows them to fully support their school leaders,” said Ernest Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “With experienced educators in the district superintendents’ offices, there will be stronger support of struggling schools and greater commitment to diversity and parent and community engagement.”

“I really like the new requirements. It just makes sense that the superintendent has to have ten years in the classroom, with three years as a principal,” said Dr. Richard Sinatra, Acting Dean of the School of Education at St. John’s University. “It’s important that superintendents have the background experience. It’s important that they know what goes on in the classroom and how principals work. The focus on instruction and methods of instruction and working with parents is a positive step forward.”

“I am excited that the bar has been raised for district leadership,” said Nicole Job, a parent and member of Community Education Council 17. “Parents need to be confident in their superintendents, and know that they are experienced with quality teaching and can keep their schools up to par, with the ability to speak to all structures supporting their schools. There are some excellent superintendents out there already, but those that are not up for the job should be held accountable. It's imperative that these new criteria are put in place immediately so that schools get the support they need in the coming school year.”

“This is another major positive change for New York City public schools. Instead of expecting corporate lawyers or whiz kids to oversee the education of our children, the de Blasio administration is putting their faith in professional educators. Chancellor Fariña is showing that successful school reform requires respect for skilled educators, raising the bar and setting high expectations for educating and supporting students, all while making parent engagement key to real school improvement,” said Zakiyah Ansari, parent leader and Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Quality Education.

“This is what real education reform looks like—strengthening the city’s foundation for a successful school system by putting experienced educators with a real track record behind the wheel. As parents, we mostly interact with the system at the school and district level but in the past, too many districts were neglected and marginalized. This is a major step to ensure that principals and schools are fully supported instead of being expected to sink or swim on their own, and to begin restoring respect and significance to the districts,” said Natasha Capers, parent leader and Coordinator for the NYC Coalition for Educational Justice.

Current superintendents will be required to reapply for their positions and will go through the new, more thorough application process. The Senior Deputy Chancellor will review candidates who have been successful as a principal and have demonstrated experience in the new priorities for the role, and will consider essays and letters of reference submitted as part of the online application. Candidates will also be presented to Community Education Councils, the UFT, the CSA, DC 37, and PTA executive members. Final decisions on superintendent hiring are made by the Chancellor.

Superintendents will be expected to provide greater support to principals and offer increased guidance and expertise to school staff in their districts. Superintendents will be expected to serve as anchors within their school communities, a role that includes helping community members and parents access information and follow up on any potential concerns.

Previously, superintendent candidates were not required to have as extensive experience as a principal and a pedagogue. Additionally, the superintendent selection process was less rigorous and transparent. This change does not impact other support structures for schools such as clusters and networks. Network leaders will continue to partner with superintendents, as they work to make sure that schools—as well as parents and families—are well-supported and empowered.

The regulation change will allow the Department to hire superintendents meeting the updated qualifications by the end of this year. All proposed changes are subject to approval by the Panel for Educational Policy and will be voted on at the August 21 meeting.