by David Safier
Positive comments about TUSD's new Supe H.T. Sanchez have been coming from nearly all corners. It's been amazing to hear such uniformly upbeat appraisals for any part of TUSD, which tends to be Bad Rap Central in the Star and among detractors on the right and the left. Now we hear another encouraging voice: Board member Mark Stegeman.
Stegeman has made reasonably positive comments about Sanchez from the time he was voted in as the new superintendent, even though Stegeman was the only No vote. But in his latest constituent newsletter, Stegeman goes farther in praising Sanchez.
What TUSD does need and has sorely lacked — for far too long –is careful decisions and strong management execution, week in and week out. . . . From what I have seen, the quality of decisions has improved significantly since Dr. Sanchez arrived. This may be partly because Dr. Sanchez, who had a thin track record for managing a district as complex as TUSD, at least had more prior experience running a large organization than did other recent superintendents. Not only management execution but also the flow of creative ideas have improved since his arrival. If this trend continues, then the long run benefits will be enormous.
Stegeman acknowledges that he has disagreed with some of Sanchez's decisions.
Agreeing with every decision is not, however, the relevant test. The important point is that Dr. Sanchez is incrementally putting in place a stronger management team than the district has recently had, and management execution is improving. I see fewer baffling decisions that seem to defy common sense, and when those decisions occur they are often revised.
I consider this high praise from someone who expressed deep concerns about Sanchez during the hiring process. Stegeman says, rightly, that it's too early to judge Sanchez, but right now, "I am optimistic." In other parts of his newsletter, Stegeman gives Sanchez credit for some specific decisions and actions.
BfA readers know I regularly disagree with Stegeman's ideas and tactics, but he deserves a lot of credit here. He could be sitting back looking for ways to criticize Sanchez so he could play "I told you so." Instead he has evaluated the new superintendent's first few months honestly and arrived at a positive conclusion. School board members should have the best interests of the district at heart, and that's a trait Stegeman has demonstrated here.