Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pender nails it on Superintendents

Clarion-Ledger political reporter Geoff Pender tackled the upcoming legislative fight over how education superintendents are selected on the pages of the newspaper last weekend:

If ever there were a time for Mississippi to end the absurd practice of electing school superintendents, the 2016 legislative session is it.....

First, the problem: Electing superintendents limits the “gene pool” to people who live in a district and are crazy enough to run for public office and rich, popular or mean enough to win. Administrative skills and other qualifications get pushed down the list.

An analogy proponents of change have used for years is football: If Ole Miss were looking for a new coach, would it make sense to limit the search only to people in Oxford?

Also, an elected superintendent is more likely to focus on politics, and run a district more like Tammany Hall than Bretton Hall. It contributes to patronage hiring and contracts and nepotism, cronyism, rascal-ism and a host of other isms and prevents meaningful education reform. School boards should be elected, then in turn hire superintendents. But a countywide elected superintendent usually wields more clout than an elected board, and the tail wags the dog.

Mississippi has more elected school superintendents — about 60 — than any other state. It’s one of only three that elect any at all.....

Some recent GOP-led education reform efforts, such as the third-grade literacy program, have brought improvements and didn’t cause the world to end as many education advocates warned. This also might make them more open to working with legislative leaders on changes such as appointed superintendents.

Appointing rather than electing top school leaders won’t magically take politics out of public education. But it would help ten-fold. Heck it would save at least a little money just in the reduction of jobs and contracts created for superintendents’ friends, family and political supporters.

The change would still be a heavy lift in the Legislature. But the political stars may not ever again be in such convergence for it as this year. Rest of column.
Mr. Pender is absolutely right.  The madness of electing superintendents was on full display in Rankin County last year.   There were three candidates for superintendent of the third largest schoold district in Mississippi.   A recruiting firm searching for candidates on a national level would not have even considered any of these candidates.  None of these candidates had any experience as a superintendent anywhere.  None.  Principals and district bureaucrats.  Suppose Republican darling Michelle Rhee wanted to be Superintendent of Rankin County? No dice.  The job instead goes to someone who wouldn't be able to be considered for the same job anywhere else in the country. 

Some will point to Jackson as Jackson appoints its Superintendent with not exactly satisfactory results.  Jackson has an appointed school board and superintendent- the worst of all possible worlds as there is no accountability whatsoever.  An elected school board in Rankin County can hold a Superintendent's feet to the fire if he fails to perform. 

Fixing this law won't solve Mississippi's educational problems but its not a bad place to start. 


Anonymous said...

How about we abolish the ABC warehouse system and let grocery stores sell wine too? If the elephants want smaller government, this is a good place to start.

Anonymous said...

Elephants only want smaller government if they will personally benefit. Cochran, Barbour, Bryant etc all want to use government to put money in their pocket and those that are well connected. See the new attorney for Madison County.
Also, lets see if the super majority in the Mississippi legislature abolishes SLRP. That should tell you all you need to know about establishment old guard Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, if they are not elected then who will appoint them? I assume the school board in each district....who is in itself an elected body. Is this correct KF?

Anonymous said...

12:07 is spot on. The oft-stated desire for small government is not genuine.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS