Sunday December 30, 2012

If you watch PCTV, it seems like Terry Kinnas always has a comment about how the business of government is done. It does not matter what business is before the City Council or now, the School Committee -- however it is being done, it’s wrong -- and deep in his past experience is the correct way. I don’t buy it. I have never met a micro-manager who has achieved much broad success. The secret to success in fact is to find good talent and to let them figure out the best path forward -- and if you are true politician, take credit for it. Another measure of success is to first correctly define the task at hand and focus on fulfilling the needs of that job.

In Massachusetts, after Education Reform, the School Committee has but one job -- to supervise the superintendent. Now we can argue if Pittsfield’s School Committee has done a good (or even an adequate) job at this considering the low scores and the outsized number of students who choice out, but one thing their job is NOT to do: manage the School Department staff. They are not teachers, supervisors, or enforcement officers over the proper protocol of committees and departments. They only have to make sure the one person they hire and supervise does that stuff.

If Mr. Kinnas was doing his job properly, and he believed that committees were not functioning properly, he would raise the issue at the appropriate forum and let those charged with managing the system develop a system to ensure that rules are followed. Instead of telling folks who have spent countless hours using their professional experience how to educate, he should simply ask how the given program will produce measurable results, and then ask for periodic reporting of success (or failure) and if the program is not working, a report on how the program will be changed to facilitate success. If goals and measures are not being met, it is the superintendent that is held accountable. But instead, we get formal complaints that Mr. Kinnas bullies staff, volunteers, and others -- and tells us how "all businesses do it" on any number of processes or issues.

I challenge Mr. Kinnas to release his full résumé to The Eagle for publication. I would like to see who he has worked for, what deficiencies he found and then addressed successfully, and why he left that operation (i.e. new opportunity he found when he believed his job was done, was he fired, did he quit?), and a few contact names so The Eagle can see if he really was as successful as he tells the public via PCTV that he was. It seems to me that if he was as successful in turning around organizations that had trouble meeting their goals we should stop the superintendent search and hire Mr. Kinnas.

Even if Mr. Kinnas is more than randomly right twice a day (like the broken clock), I don’t want public employees bullied. I want good people to come to work and do good work -- and if we can do it better or cheaper by changing processes or sub-contracting the work out, then we do that. But the way to get that done is to first do the job at hand -- and for Mr. Kinnas, it is to work with the School Committee to manage the superintendent with goals and timelines and then reward or reprimand or terminate as appropriate.

I look forward to seeing the results of my request in print soon.

DAVE PILL

Pittsfield