Saturday, August 11, 2007

Today's C-J Editorial says...what I said

A new education chief

Of course the state Board of Education would like to hire a new education commissioner as soon as possible. The board -- and the consulting firm it hired -- really messed up in their first attempt. The sooner a new commissioner is hired, members surely feel, the sooner that embarrassing episode can be left behind.

But there are practical problems with the quick deadline they have set for themselves. They want all applications to be in by Sept. 30. They want to hire a new commissioner at their meeting on Nov. 13.

But that timetable will really limit the candidate pool. Most educators are just starting their year's work in September. The good ones -- the ones who are principled and honor their commitments -- aren't looking for new jobs in the first weeks of school. Most wouldn't think of making an exit in November.

Certainly, disgruntled educators would be happy to apply. So would those who don't have a lot of options, or who looked for jobs last year and failed to get an offer.

But Kentucky can do better than that. Nationally, the job of education commissioner is considered a desirable post.

The education reforms passed in the '90s are still discussed around the country. The commonwealth should be able to attract the best candidates.

The truth is, there is no reason to rush right now. The Board of Education has already appointed Kevin Noland to be interim commissioner. Mr. Noland is more than competent.

He has served as general counsel to the board for years. In fact, he's run the place before, between commissioners in 1995, and again in 2000. And he's been running it since Gene Wilhoit left.

The board has nothing to fear with him in charge -- but it should fear the consequences of a limited candidate pool. One reason for its recent debacle was the lack of high-quality candidates.
The strategy for redemption should be to find a great candidate, not to find one who can step into the job in a hurry.

That could end in disaster. Members have had enough of that this year.

This from the Courier-Journal.

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