More focus on results, not on rules
One of the conclusions a consultant who conducted an “audit” of West Virginia public schools reached amounts to recommending less reliance on rules and more on results.
The consultant issued dozens of specific suggestions for improving schools in our state. One of them was that the state Department of Education is too big and costly and should be pared down. And, the consultant added, both the department and the Legislature have burdened educators with too many requirements that don’t really add to the quality of schools.
State Board of Education members are about to begin a nationwide search for a new West Virginia superintendent of schools – and they face precisely the concern the consultant identified.
It is expected the coming year will be one in which substantial changes are made in how children are educated in West Virginia. State Board of Education members want to find the very best person they can to lead that reform campaign.
But their first concern must be whether candidates for the job meet requirements set down by the Legislature.
State law stipulates the superintendent must hold a master’s degree in education administration or better, have worked in public schools at least five years, and have “recognized ability as a school administrator.” How that last can be proven is beyond us.
But other requirements may require the state board to reject applicants who hold great promise. For example, a candidate with a doctoral degree, great references, decades of experience and “recognized ability” might have to be turned down because he lacks that master’s in education administration.
Legislators should give the board more flexibility in its search for a new superintendent. That should be among the first actions lawmakers take when they begin work on a sweeping campaign to improve public schools early next year.