Detroit Public Schools, Education — July 1, 2016 at 9:12 am

Disgraced former EAA Chancellor Covington still trying to find a superintendent job

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NOTE: This post has been updated below.

Disgraced former Education Achievement Authority Chancellor John Covington is still trying to find a way to cash in on his time at Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s failed experiment on Detroit school children. Recall that he bailed out on Kansas City schools which lost their accreditation the month after he abruptly quit. Then he came to Detroit to run Snyder’s District for Wayward Schools and abruptly quit again after questionable spending practices came to light. There’s nothing in his past to point to that shows success yet he continues to be considered for superintendent jobs around the country.

How he even gets interviews after his trail of failures is a huge question mark. Okay, it’s actually NOT a huge question mark. It’s because of his affiliation with the Broad Foundation, a group that seems dedicated to destroying public education and replacing it with a for-profit model that enriches private corporations using tax dollars.

This time around, it’s the Tuscaloosa City Schools in Alabama:

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) –
Thursday, the Alabama Association of School Board released names of the five candidates for the superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools.

  • Dr. Garrett Brundage, Assistant Superintendent of Rockdale (Georgia) County Board of Education
  • Dr. Barbara Cooper, Deputy Supterintentent of Huntsville City Schools.
  • Dr. John Covington, McComb (Mississippi) School District
  • Dr. Mike Daria, Interim Superintendent of Tuscaloosa City Schools
  • Dr. Avis Williams, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Tuscaloosa City Schools

Note that he’s listed as currently working for the McComb School District in Mississippi. That’s actually not a job, per se. It’s a consulting gig. On his resume, he describes it as having “Contracted with the McComb School District, McComb, Mississippi to provide technical support and assistance as the district prepares to transition to a system of student-centered teaching and learning.” His position there is inconsequential enough that, if you go to the McComb School District website, he’s not mentioned anywhere:

What’s even more comical is how this failed “educator” promotes himself on his resume:

Distinguished career creating vision, mission, goals, and cultures that championed sustainable outcomes, improved student achievement, and created equitable opportunities for all students. Demonstrated commitment to student learning, growth, and development by introducing innovative systems, methodologies, and practices that meet the unique needs and styles of individual learners.
Known nationally as educational innovator with proven success in urban and rural education systems. Leveraged scholarly accomplishment to lead the development of high quality academic programs and instructional strategies to enhance, advance, and expand educational initiatives and standards.
Recognized for building teams of top talent that meet organizational mission and vision. Skilled in recruiting qualified, competent administrators, faculty, and staff, as well as leading executive teams and partnering with diverse stakeholders including local, state, and national business, government, and philanthropic organizations.
Strong school governance and administrative acumen. Partnered with Boards of Directors and executive-level leaders to develop, implement, and monitor policies and procedures that ensure accountability, fiscal integrity, and compliance with accreditation standards. Experienced managing large budgets and securing external resources through federal and foundation grants, as well as philanthropic contributions.

There is literally NOTHING in his background to support any of this. In fact, his time at the EAA proved the opposite of the vast majority of this drivel. There isn’t a single school district where he’s held a leadership position that was better off after his involvement. Just ask Kansas City Schools.

This is Covington’s fourth attempt to get a superintendent job since leaving Detroit Public Schools in disgrace and under a cloud of scandal. The first three attempts didn’t go so well:

He cashed out [of the EAA] with a hefty severance package and then went job hunting. He was passed over for a superintendent position with the Richland One School District in South Carolina. Then he was denied a position with the Metro Nashville Public Schools, as well.

His third attempt was with the Youngstown City Schools’ Academic Distress Commission in Ohio. The Commission was set up as a state takeover of Youngstown schools, very much like Emergency Managers do in Michigan. They are currently looking for a CEO for the commission, someone who will have the power to replace school teachers and administrators, determine class size, and set compensation levels for staff. John Covington, not surprisingly, threw his hat into the ring with 16 others.

He didn’t even make the first cut.

You have to give him credit for tenacity, I suppose. He’s seems confident that some school district somewhere doesn’t have access to Google and won’t find out about his shady past. To read his resume, you’d think he was an education superstar.

The reality, of course, is his resume is the paper version of a Potemkin Village, beautiful on the surface with nothing behind it to back it up.

Here’s hoping Tuscaloosa City Schools has access to Google.

UPDATE: As of July 12, 2016, John Covington is no longer being considered for the position:

One change to the board’s tentative interview schedule was one candidate taking his name out of consideration. John Covington, a consultant with the McComb School District in Mississippi, was not listed in the schedule of applicants to be interviewed.

The school system did not give an explanation for Covington dropping out of the search.

  • judyms9

    It’s unfortunate that the for-profit circuit has added career niches for CEO’s, superintendents, emergency managers, academie maitre d’s, and any other niche titles the business world wants to apply. Your assessment of Covington is a stinger, and I admire your doggedness in tracking his career moves.
    The EAA is just one of Snyder’s failed experiments. He’s got two more years to keep the hits coming.

    • tljanssen

      While I agree with the gist of your comment, I feel the need to change the first two words to “It’s outrageous”.

  • It sounds like boards of directors; reward failure, then shuffle the players like a shell game. No accountability, no consequences.

    They should be treated the way they want to treat teachers.

  • harrietlawrence

    Yes, Covington had Kansas City snookered and is the worst excuse for a human being ever. I was an interviewer for MIT and went to talk to him about issues with closing city’s only high functioning college prep school, Lincoln Prep. Nothing but hot air and bravado. Regurgitates facts but can’t synthesize information. It was clear Broad was pulling the strings on that puppet.

    Most aggregious act? He was closing half the schools, cutting budgets – including successful debate program but he commissioned a trophy – literally a huge trophy – to celebrate his future success. $38,000. And he also conned the school board into firing 150 newly hired teachers shortly before they were scheduled to start (regardless of whether they relocated to the district for the job) in favor of hiring 150 Teach for America teachers at $3,000 admin fee per person. The Board didn’t reveal that this might be a conflict of interest given that TFA has a place on the Broad Institute Board of Directors. So yes – cut budgets, then use $450,000 in nonexistent funds to bring in teachers who are not obligated to stay.

    Covington is the “long con”. Don’t be fooled. He left a trail of destruction in Kansas City (Google his name and The Pitch” to see what he did to destroy the second college prep school: Southwest Early College Campus).

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