Elected politicians are programmed to fail when it comes to true leadership

True leaders, as I learned in the Army, have their number 2 prepped at all times to step up and take their place.

Elected politicians are terrified of anyone remotely qualified to take their place and will stop at nothing to disparage the “opposition” at every turn (see Clinton/Obama race if you need an example).

Herein we have a fundamental failure in our system: we’re failing to breed new leadership- and when in positions of power, politicians feel the need to constantly exert their power, often to the detriment of the people they are supposed to serve.

Which brings me to the current Dayton Public Schools Superintendent conundrum.

If Dr. Percy Mack was truly all that and a bag of chips, as the board clearly would have us believe right up to the point when he pulled up stakes for greener pastures (so he wouldn’t have to face another levy defeat)- his number 2, Debra Brathwaite, should have been well prepared to jump right in and continue on after Mack’s departure.

The School Board, made up of elected politicians, of course, have to flex their muscle and waste valuable time, money and risk losing Brathwaite to another district- meaning we’ll have lost our General and our Colonel in a short period of time. This doesn’t say bad things about Mack- it says our Board is made up of clueless folks who have no clue how to run a hot-dog cart, much less a multi-million dollar enterprise.

If Brathwaite wasn’t fit to step up 4 years ago, Mack should have been getting negative evaluations from the Board. If she wasn’t ready 2 years ago, Mack should have been fired. If she’s not ready today- well, the board should be fired and charged with criminal malfeasance.

The Dayton Daily News article makes it perfectly clear that Brathwaite understands the proper way to run a district, just by refusing to accept the “interim” title and “take one for the team” of fools who are running the district- Read on:

Board wants wide search for DPS top job
Dayton Superintendent Percy Macks top deputy wants to replace her boss but has told the school board she only wants the job on a permanent basis and will not accept the role of interim superintendent.

Debra Brathwaite, Daytons deputy superintendent since 2003, learned Thursday, May 29, she would not be offered the superintendency of Princeton schools near Cincinnati, adding to a list of near misses for desirable superintendent jobs that include Akron and Toledo.

With Macks plan to depart for Columbia, S.C., in July, Dayton school board members have expressed a strong preference to name an interim superintendent and conduct a national search for his replacement.

Brathwaite said she has declined an offer of the interim superintendent spot by board President Yvonne Isaacs.

“Ive been deputy for five years in Dayton,” she said. “I believe I have done some exemplary work. Interim is a temporary position. I have been very open with my desire to be a superintendent. The process in Princeton really validated my skills. I was up against two sitting superintendents. I think I did pretty well.”

Isaacs said she believes Brathwaite is the best choice for interim superintendent and would be a viable candidate for the permanent job, but now the board must consider its options.

“She made it very clear to me she was not interested in being interim superintendent,” Isaacs said. “I need to now have a conversation with the board. But I dont believe our position will change with regard to going the interim route and… doing a national search.”

Brathwaite said it is the boards prerogative to conduct a national search but that she believes she has earned the top job.

“When you are interim, it ties you to the position,” she said. “You are really put on hold and at the end of the day you dont know what happens. I believe I dont deserve that. I have really given all I have in Dayton.”

Word of Brathwaites possible rejection angered some of her allies within the district, prompting a letter signed by every elementary school principal in support of her candidacy for superintendent.

“By being just who she is: Brilliant, hardworking, earnest, fair and generous, she has earned our respect and undying loyalty,” the letter to the board states. “This letter is to let you know that we have utmost confidence in her and her ability to lead not only this district, but any district.”

I can assure you that every elementary school principal wouldn’t sign a letter of support for any member of the school board.

What we have here is a classic failure in our system of elected officials trying to manage hired professionals. The same problems happen with City Managers- look back to the Bill Estabrook fiasco in Dayton, where the winner of a “National Search” lasted about a year in the top spot.

With an impending levy to pass, bringing a new face on the scene is a lot of work. There is no doubt that Brathwaite will leave if passed over (rightfully). And, like it or not, National Searches can fail- if you need proof- look at how former DPS school chiefs Franklin Smith or James Williams have done in them- landing bigger, higher paying jobs after leaving this district in a mess.

If this search nonsense isn’t stopped pronto, and Brathwaite promoted immediately, it will be time for a search- one for people to replace the entire school board.

Your thoughts on this?

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