May 6, 2018
Hello Board President McAlister,
I am writing this email urging you to reconsider the reassignment of Charlene McKowen.
My name is Dr. Marty Krovetz. I have been a friend to Aromas-San Juan Unified School District since its inception and a friend to Anzar High School since before its inception. I am Professor Emeritus, Educational Leadership, San Jose State University, where I served for 15 years. I was a high school principal in Santa Cruz for 14 years before that.
Rationale for you to reconsider your position:
• On your Board agenda for this week is the Strategic Plan. Three of the five focus areas are relevant to this conversation. (1) Provide excellent 21st Century Instruction, (3) Recruit and retain excellent staff, (5) Enable greater engagement for students and family. Anzar is an exceptional school. This is demonstrated by the passionate voices of past and current students, parents and Board members. Anzar is recognized nationally through the Coalition of Essential School for its commitment to equity, exhibitions, advisory, shared decision-making, community service, and community engagement. No one is saying that Anzar could not improve in the three areas above, but lots of people are saying that Anzar is doing a much better job than the vast majority of high schools in this region and nationally.
• When a leader is as exceptional as Charlene McKowen, one should celebrate her contributions and upcoming retirement. As you know, she is one of the original teachers at Anzar. She has served as principal since the principalship was established. Anzar characterizes all three of the focus areas for your strategic plan, not meaning it cannot do better, but it is an exceptional school. Charlene is a primary reason for this excellence.
• Strong leaders work with and develop relationships with other strong leaders. They do not allow themselves to be intimidated by strong leaders. Clearly the superintendent does not like Charlene. Instead of championing Charlene’s leadership strengths, she has asked the Board to dismiss Charlene. The Board should be questioning the leadership quality of your superintendent, who has no background in public schools as a teacher or administrator. This email is not about the superintendent, but her leadership ability must be questioned. Hiring and evaluating a superintendent is one of the most important responsibilities the Board has.
• Can the school district really afford two principals? As I understand it from the meeting at Anzar last Tuesday night, the intent is to have two principals in the Fall and reassign Charlene in the Spring. Given the amount of effort many Anzar parents give to raising money for the school, and given the increasing larger class sizes, opposition to this reassignment can be justified simply on financial grounds. School Boards were initially designed to assure financial stability of schools. Your duty is still primarily, above all else, to do that well.
• Many of the school administrators in the four counties that San Jose State University serves received their administrative credential in the program I chaired for many years. I cannot imagine a high quality, current school leader applying for the principalship as the Board has currently defined it. This is not about the revised job description which is on the agenda this week. It is about the treatment of a recognized outstanding and long serving principal. A current principal or assistant principal should do her/his homework and will not see this as a healthy career choice.
• When Anzar was founded, the staff and parents developed a list of “Givens”, essential practices to guide the school. They were known by the Board and reviewed annually. They have been the guiding principles for Anzar for 24 years. Whatever you do, please assure that the Board knows these and that Anzar continues using them as the guiding principles.
• I have an option for you to consider, and perhaps to bring to the Board. Allow Charlene to serve as principal for 2018-19. In the Fall advertise for the principalship. Hire someone to serve as the assistant principal/principal designee for Spring semester, working along side Charlene. Honor and celebrate Charlene and allow her to truly mentor the new principal. Several strong school leaders whom I know and could recommend for this position might consider applying under these circumstances.
Drew, I have heard only good things about you. I hope you will consider what I write here. I cannot attend the Board meeting on Wednesday night, or I would attend and say all of this. I would be honored if you would call me to talk about this – 831-239-9612.
I want to remind you that public education is a public good, one of the most important public goods.
I am also sending a similar email to Board member Flores.
Dr. Martin L. Krovetz