I am writing in response to the NAACP Chapter President Rev. Kenneth Clayton’s demand for a new school superintendent to hold a doctorate degree. While I admire and welcome Rev. Clayton’s call for only the highest caliber individual to lead this district, I respectfully disagree with using a Ph.D. as the barometer for finding that person.
In the education world, it takes many characteristics to lead a school district. It takes classroom experience, pedagogical insight, compassion, patience, commitment…the list is extensive. And while highest-level college degrees are desirable, they are not what makes a candidate—or future superintendent—successful.
The Paterson school district has learned this lesson firsthand. As we all know, our former state-appointed superintendent had a doctorate degree, and it’s indisputable that his tenure here in Paterson was nothing short of a disappointment. In fact, this person specialized in SPED (the acronym for special education) and still ran Paterson’s special education program into the ground, which will take years to rectify.
Finally, I echo what the members of the superintendent search committee have said: It’s now too late in the game to make changes. The original requirements—as set by this committee of stakeholders—did not include a doctorate degree. To suddenly hold the candidate accountable and render them ineligible as a result of this demand is unfair. It’s important to note that, since the beginning, this process has been transparent and open to all sets of constituents. I’m a little puzzled why a higher degree is now important and cause for upset.
The bottom line is we all want what’s best for the Paterson students and community. In fact, the Paterson Education Association (PEA) has been demanding and advocating for nothing less for decades. However, the best cannot simply be defined by possessing a higher level degree. Our district deserves more.
John McEntee, Jr., President
Paterson Education Association