What Sacramento city schools need in a superintendent

SN&R has been hard on Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond, who announced his forthcoming resignation last week. But we also recognize that running a city’s public-school system in an economic downturn—not to mention political demands, moves for privatization, the end of labor protections for teachers—is a challenging, perhaps thankless job.

It also doesn’t matter much what one’s intentions are: When it comes to education, results are what count.

Let’s look at the facts. SCUSD, with more than 42,000 students, serves a majority of children who are below or barely above the poverty line. Test scores are dipping. And we’ve had way too much of school closures and not enough truly innovative thinking about how to sustain public schools.

Yes, California underfunds education. Those that can do so have left for private, charter, or better-off and less-crowded suburban schools.

Sacramento public schools must find a way to meet the students—despite dropping enrollment—where they are with a supportive and supported staff.

We also urge the SCUSD board—and residents of the district—to make sure that the next superintendent is someone with actual background in education, let alone with districts that struggle for resources. The new superintendent needs to be a leader who recognizes what a school can do for a neighborhood, who understands that closing schools and shifting children to charter and private education is the educational equivalent of a shell game.

Ultimately, every school needs to be a priority.