The top of what list? | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Rod Stevens’ letter asserting that Bainbridge Island High School must be “taken to the top,” and that taking us to the top means not hiring from within. These are facile assertions.

By what measure are we not “tops” enough? Test scores? Some numeric ranking? We as a community should be asking ourselves what is best for our students. Not, how do we rate.

Stevens complains that “in objective terms” we’re “behind” other schools. So what? The focus to be the “best” already places plenty of pressure on teachers, students and curricula.

The best at what? A Bainbridge High School education does not seem to be an impediment to getting into top colleges or in preparing our kids for a variety of successful endeavors after graduation. As a parent of two high school students, I’m continually impressed with the creativity, community engagement, and well roundedness of BHS students. That’s not measured in Mr. Stevens’ calculus.

The letter cites a high turnover rate in the principal position at the high school as a sign of stasis and, by implication, decay. It might be a sign that school leadership is looking to fill the position with top quality talent and change was indicated. Letting a less than ideal situation continue would have been a sign of a lack of leadership.

The letter similarly cites hiring from within as an indication that the best are not being hired. That’s just silly. Sometimes the best candidates will be close to home and sometimes they won’t. In a top achieving school system like Bainbridge, there are great candidates to fill top positions. Larger executive search areas do not guarantee success.

One real indication of “top” leadership is taking the time to ask the community you serve for their input. And that’s exactly what Peter Bang-Knutsen (an internal hire, gasp) and the school board have done with regard to the principal search.

So, instead of hand-wringing and recriminations over whether we’re “the best,” let’s think about what we want from our school, for our students, how we want to get there, and then share that with the leaders who’ve invited our ideas.

STEVE FRADKIN

Bainbridge Island

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