April 24, 2024

John Walters: A Few Questions for Zoie Saunders

Published by

Vermont is getting its own unqualified education secretary and John Walters, at the Vermont Political Observer, has some questions for her.

There are some obvious questions I wouldn’t bother to ask because others will. Questions about charter schools and school choice, for instance. Saunders is well practiced in answering those with a flurry of multisyllabic educationese. I’m assuming someone will ask her about her lack of experience in public schools and why she chose to spend her career almost entirely outside of public education.

would ask Saunders about her unusual job search last year. She was the chief education officer for the city of Fort Lauderdale at the time. She applied for the Vermont position last fall and, at around the same time, she applied for an opening with the Broward County Public Schools. On November 15, the Vermont Board of Education forwarded three names to the governor; we now know that Saunders was one of the three. About a month later, she started work at BCPS as head of a consolidation process meant to address declining enrollment in the system.

And then, three months into a complicated, controversial process, she accepted the position in Vermont and left Florida on very short notice. (She was introduced by the governor on March 22 and started work in Vermont on April 15.) This raises a number of concerns.

First, I’d ask her to explain her search process. Why did she simultaneously apply for two jobs and why did she begin work at BCPS when she knew she was a finalist in Vermont?

Second, I would note that if I were her employer at BCPS I’d be royally pissed at her for leaving while the district’s consolidation process was barely beginning. What would she say to them?

Third, what would she say to someone who looked at her recent job history and wondered about her commitment to this position?

Other topics. Saunders’ experience is almost entirely in strategic positions. As far as I can tell, she has never managed a bureaucracy of any size in either the public or private sector. I would ask her what’s the largest staff cohort she has ever had to manage, and what qualifies her to become head of a pretty sizeable state agency.

Saunders has spoken at length about the importance of education. I would ask her for specific comments about the value of public education, of a strong public school system.

Follow-up: during her interview on Vermont Public, Saunders claimed that charter schools are public schools. She should be questioned about that statement.

I would ask if she favors wider school choice even at the cost of diverting money from public schools.

And finally, I would ask about her recent visit to the White River Elementary School where, according to the teachers’ union, the media was barred from attending and participation was limited to students — no adults, no school staff.

Read the full post here. 

Share this:

Readers wishing to comment on the content are encouraged to do so via the link to the original post.

Find the original post here:

View original post