UPDATE (1-15-06): Bruce Harter
apparently was eliminated by the
Christina school board from
consideration for the
superintendency. A district
spokesperson did not respond to a
Delaforum request for confirmation
challenge rather than any dissatisfaction with
Brandywine School District
motivated him to seek to be superintendent in
the Christina district, Bruce Harter told a pair
of meet-the-applicant sessions.
"I see it as an
opportunity to take a school system that has done well and
see that it is the leading district not only in Delaware but
[also] in the region," he said.
Christina as a unique challenge, a unique opportunity," he
said. "I have a lot more years to work and I want to stay in
Delaware." He is 57.
Harter is one
of four finalists for the job which is expected to be filled
when the Christina school board meets in special session
before the end of January. The vacancy occurred when the
former superintendent, Joseph Wise, left on short notice to
take a position out of state.
Of the four,
Harter is the only Delaware resident and the only one with
experience as a superintendent. He has been superintendent
in Brandywine since 2001. Before that, he held the top post
in Lee County (Fla.) School District for four years and in
Corvallis (Ore.) School District for five years.
finalists are: William Hite, area assistant superintendent
in the Cobb County (Ga.) School District; Lillian Lowery,
assistant superintendent of Fairfax County (Va.) Public
Schools; and Barbara McGann, assistant superintendent of
human resources for Boston Public Schools.
[Brandywine] school board is interested in having me stay in
Brandywine," Harter said in response to a question at one of
the Christina meetings on Jan. 12. On the other hand, he
said, Brandywine "has a succession plan in place, a stable
central office and a highly skilled assistant
superintendent." Tammy Davis is the assistant
the largest of the state's 19 public school districts. It
has just shy of 20,000 students in 24 schools and a $241.9
million operating budget, compared to Brandywine's 10,600
students in 17 schools and $115.8 million budget.
Brandywine ranks third in size, behind Red Clay.
Harter said if
he gets the job he would not come to Christina with a
pre-set agenda nor does he "have any specific programs I
want to bring here."
"What I don't
bring is the arrogance to think I know it all -- that I know
all what this district needs," he said.
Some of the
questioning was unusually sharp for such meetings.
An attender at
Gauger-Cobbs Middle School, for instance, noted that his
resume listed 11 positions in his 35-year career and asked,
"Are you going to move out of here quickly?" Harter
responded, "I am intending to stay." He added that "there
were personal and professional reasons for each of those
Bancroft Academy on his response to the so-called
'achievement gap', he replied: "The fundamental issue we
have to address is race. ... We have not been willing to deal
with that. ... Until we begin to acknowledge that is the
case, we are not going to be able to solve the 'achievement
"We thought by
giving [equal] opportunity, we were meeting a standard of
equity. What's needed is equity of results," he said.
He said the
fundamental challenge educators face "is all about the level
of student learning."
"When I started
teaching if some kids didn't get it, it was okay. We just
moved them along," he said. Nowadays the effort is "high
academic standards [and] high expectation for all kids."
allocating the necessary resources and devoting sufficient
time and effort to the task, the key is firm teacher
commitment backed by professional development and supportive
monitoring, he said. "We need teachers who not only have the
skills but [also] the inclination."
He said an
unacceptably large portion of local high school graduates
enrolling at Delaware Technical & Community College require
remedial work. "We have to prepare all kids for
post-secondary education. They have to be able to get into
post-secondary education and stay there," he said.
that schools serving high-poverty populations "are a
tremendous challenge," he cited the accomplishments at Edison
and East Side charter schools in Wilmington as examples of
what can be done.
"With very few
exceptions, kids are able to meet those levels," he said.