I’ve long preached the virtues and need for all Mississippi school superintendents to be appointed rather than elected. Monday night, I was excited to learn the Calhoun County School Board supports that as well.
The school board was in the process of prioritizing a list of eight objectives suggested by the Mississippi School Boards Association to be submitted to the Mississippi Legislature for consideration entering the next session.
After quickly agreeing to the obvious support of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program being fully funded, Danny Harrelson, of Bruce, spoke up and said the transition from elected to all appointed superintendents is important to him. Susan Hardin, of Calhoun City, quickly agreed and then President Billy McCord tossed in his two cents.
“I certainly agree with it and always have,” McCord said. “The way schools are structured, I think it’s important.”
An appointed superintendent would give the person in that job the ability to make decisions impacting Calhoun County students without as much political interference, which more times than not clouds the process. Self-preservation when it comes to decision-making is human nature in any political office, but if you remove the stigma of having to run a re-election campaign and instead apply the pressure for the superintendent to retain his/her job based solely on the performance of the schools, you’re going to get better decisions for all concerned.
In the past, the school board has been lectured on how they are intended to function according to the policies of the state’s school board association. President McCord has discussed in the past the school board is designed to be strictly a policy-making entity that oversees the superintendent to insure he/she is doing their job adequately.
The school system ideally would have a chain of command in which teachers answer to principals, principals answer to the superintendent, the superintendent answers to the board and the board answers to the voters.
The chain of command is broken, however, due to an elected superintendent. If there was a level of incompetency being consistently exhibited by the superintendent, the board is virtually powerless to stop it. The school district would be forced to endure bad-decision making until the next election.
If education is truly as important as we constantly say that it is – even in this week’s Journal web poll the overwhelming majority of voters said their tax money should go to education – we have to put our policies where our mouth is.
That said, the issue has been a political “hot potato” for legislators for several years as too many representing districts with elected superintendent’s fear for their own survival if they vote to appoint them.
It desperately needs to be emphatically put to legislators that those of us wanting better schools, a better future for our students, a better Mississippi, want appointed superintendents. The Mississippi School Boards Association, along with Calhoun County, making it a priority is a great start.
You may email Joel McNeece at firstname.lastname@example.org