Raskin set bar high for next superintendent

Published 9:39 am Sunday, May 4, 2008

Candace Raskin’s departure from Austin Public Schools is a loss for the district and a loss for the community as a whole.

As superintendent, she set the bar high and gave the district steady and progressive direction. Under her leadership, the district has been financially sound and student achievement has been worth applauding. The partnership with the University of Minnesota — which Raskin spearheaded — will set the district up for further academic success, with 90 teachers now able to seek their master’s degrees while continuing to teach in the district. Further training of a district’s teachers can only lead to one thing: A better education for its students.

The district has made great strides over the last four years, and by providing her own vision, but also by creating a culture among administrators of creative problem-solving, Raskin deserves much of the credit. While many districts throughout the state try to figure out how to boost math and science education in its high schools, implement all-day every-day kindergarten, and create a healthy learning environment for minority students, Austin has accomplished those tasks.

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The school board now faces a difficult task in hiring a proven and visionary leader to pick up where Raskin left off.

The board must not go backwards with the next superintendent.

For the good of the school district and all of Austin, the next superintendent must have:

A demonstrated history of fostering growth, both in their students and their teachers.

A track record of providing financial stability to their districts. By not needing an excess operating levy, for example, Austin’s financial situation under Raskin’s leadership has been an exception to the rule in the current education-funding climate.

An ability to bring the divided school board back together.

An understanding of diversity and leadership that provides quality education to students of all backgrounds.

Most importantly, the next superintendent must, like Raskin has done, always keep in mind that the ultimate goal and responsibility of the school district is to educate its students.