We want to lend our strong support to West Ada School District Superintendent Linda Clark and to urge you to do the same.
Idaho Business for Education represents 135 business leaders across Idaho, many of whom live and operate in the West Ada district. IBE’s mission is to work collaboratively with stakeholders to improve Idaho’s education system and set our students up for success in school, work and life.
As part of our efforts, we have worked closely with Clark for many years. We find her to be one of the most dedicated, innovative and effective education leaders in our state and country. This isn’t just our opinion. Clark was recognized by Education Week earlier this year as one of the top superintendents in the nation. Gov. Butch Otter recognized her leadership skills by appointing her to the State Board of Education.
Clark has demonstrated her amazing abilities by playing a key role on the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Education. And she is already making a positive contribution to the State Board.
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So you can imagine our dismay as we watched members of West Ada School Board of Trustees question Clark’s leadership abilities and, quite frankly, made her very difficult job even more difficult. We were especially baffled by their questioning whether Clark should serve on the State Board of Education. Most school districts would be honored that their superintendent was chosen for such an important position by the governor.
We support and respect the board’s important role in setting policy for the West Ada School District. We believe all school boards should take an active role in ensuring that their districts are preparing their students for post-secondary and careers. But we also believe that the most effective boards — whether in the private or public sector — hire great leaders like Clark and let them achieve the desired goals without unhelpful micro-management and politics.
Instead of making Clark’s job more difficult, we hope that the board would focus their attention on ways to improve student academic achievement and support the person who leads that effort. At the very least their energies should not be channeled toward challenging a proven and effective leader at every turn and possibly driving her out of office.
The loss of Dr. Clark would deliver a significant blow to the District. It would create instability and a distraction that would detract from the goal of improving the academic outcomes of the students.
We encourage the board to change the tone, direction and supervision of Dr. Clark and work collaboratively with her to set a high bar for the district staff and its students and work with her in a supportive and positive fashion to achieve common goals.
Skip Oppenheimer is Board of Directors chair for Idaho Business for Education. Rod Gramer is president and CEO of IBE.