What type of superintendent do students want?

By Daniel Miyares, Senior Writer

Joshua Starr’s resignation as MCPS superintendent Feb. 3 came as a shock to many members of the MCPS community, including the teachers, staff and thousands of students he served for nearly four years.

Months later, the Montgomery County Board of Education’s search for a new superintendent is well underway. However, it is still unclear who will take over, and by which policies they will run MCPS.

According to Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA), the firm hired to run the search, they are looking for a new superintendent who will demonstrate the ability to close the achievement gap, work with students from diverse backgrounds and effectively communicate with all levels of MCPS, from the BOE to the students.

These diverse objectives are only shared by some CHS students who possess limited knowledge of the superintendent’s role and policy.

According to sophomore Alvin Chung, Starr was only a topic of conversation among students when possible snow days were involved. Aside from that, Chung said that he and others “don’t really know what they do up there” at the MCPS offices.

Students like junior Bradley Lawrence expect little in the way of direct change from any superintendent’s policies, as he thinks individual students’ needs are not often a priority.

Other students like junior Hannah Hua, claim that MCPS ineffectively communicates decisions and policies that directly affect the students.

“I think the new superintendent should be more in touch with student opinion and explain his/her policy and viewpoints in layman’s terms on social media, so students and parents know what is going on,” Hua said.

More specifically, Starr’s cyberbullying campaign did not play well with students and is seen by some as one of his critical missteps.

“I think the timing of his cyber-civility campaign was pretty poor because it was launched right after Starr was ‘cyberbullied’ on Twitter over snow days,” Hua said. “It made it seem like Dr. Starr only started caring about cyberbullying after he experienced it himself.”

According to Hua, Starr’s missteps pale in comparison to chronic issues concerning testing and stress, which are more suitable issues for a superintendent to focus on. Pressing issues concerning budget cuts, however, are also on students’ minds.

According to senior Kyle Sorkin, he doesn’t “think it’s appropriate” for the interim superintendent Larry Bowers to be making budgetary policy. While it is not discussed nearly as often, the new superintendent should also allocate “more funds for athletic referees.”

Despite the multifaceted issues surrounding Starr’s resignation, the interim superintendent’s actions, and the search for a new executive, Student Member of the Board Dahlia Huh remains hopeful for the search’s success.

According to Huh, “the board is working very hard” to satisfy all of the students’ needs, but all members of MCPS must remain “very mindful of all the candidates that apply during this process.”

Even though the CHS community contains a diverse array of opinions on what the new superintendent needs to do and that the mistakes the previous executive made, the sparse student involvement in the search process only confirms a general lack of excitement and knowledge concerning the superintendent’s role.

“I’m not entirely sure what he/she does or decides, which shows just how much students in general know about the people controlling their education,” Hua said.