Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Letter from NASBE

A source provides the text of the letter the National Association of State Boards of Education sent to the Kansas Board of Education:

Members of the Kansas State Board of Education:

I take pride in my professional reputation and in the integrity with which I approach my work, therefore I feel compelled to respond to what was reported not only to Michael Hill but, more significantly in the media about NASBE's process of conducting chief searches.

I have conducted and participated in Chief searches for more than 15 years and I have never agreed to have applications out of a controlled environment. It violates the most fundamental principles of personnel practices. I want it to be clear that I had no problem with the Board changing the scoring matrix, but with the decision to have the applications withdrawn from a controlled environment which was unacceptable. Furthermore, it is always our practice to present the top candidates (based on the Board's criteria) to the Board, recognizing that the Board can choose to interview other candidates.

In a letter dated July 18, 2005 sent to Ken Willard I outlined the procedures that NASBE uses in conducting a chief search. Under the outline of NASBE activities, among other things it states NASBE will:
Conduct an initial evaluation of the applicants benchmarked against the criteria identified by the Board [this resulted in the seven candidates presented to the Board].
Meet with the Board to present applications and information pertinent to the Board's selection process, Act as a facilitator in assisting the Board in identifying its top candidates."
I reluctantly decided not to send letters to the applicants apologizing for the irregularity of having multiple copies of their applications out of NASBE's control because I thought it could have reflected negatively on the Board. Likewise I framed our letter of withdrawal in a way that I had hoped would also not reflect negatively on the Board. I was deeply disappointed then to be disparaged in the press and not treated with the mutual respect I extended to the Board.

Never the less, I take responsibility because I did deviate from the process by not meeting with the entire Board in advance to fully explain the process. Had I done that and been told that the Board would not accept NASBE's process I would have declined to enter into an agreement with the Board. The process we used has resulted in the selection of some of the nation's best chief state school officers, and I stand behind it.

Sincerely,

Brenda Lilenthan Welburn (signed)
Executive Director (NASBE)
The incompetence of this Board is stunning.

In an editorial last Sunday, the Journal World noted that the Board's objection was that NASBE was emphasizing educational experience over "business, civic and political skills."

The editors rightly note that there is "entirely too much politics in the state board already."

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