But no! In the Jan. 26 Sunday Gazette-Mail came Charlotte Pritt with her own "better government" scheme to trump the status quo. She would compel the governor to further stack the deck by mandatorily packing the school board with teachers union officials and other ax-grinders having their own agendas, which do not necessarily put educational achievement first. At least her obviously sincere suggestion, however misguided, calls for sorely needed change.
In 1992, I published a pamphlet, "Twenty-First Century West Virginia," a copy of which was mailed to the governor, members of the Legislature, all newspapers, TV and radio stations in the state. I offered ideas how county and state government might be downsized and made more democratic. They were unanimous in ignoring it.
As to school system organization, it suggested that the 55 county school districts be reduced to nine, of equal population, which would shift geographically with every census. Each would elect seven members who would compose the district boards. Thus, statewide, school board members would be cut from 275 to 63, with attendant reduction of their bureaucracy.
The members of each district would elect one of their own to serve on the state board. Those nine would in turn elect one of theirs to be state superintendent of schools.
Thus, membership on the state Board of Education would be diverse and spread equally around the state instead of concentrated in the hands of those having the governor's favor. Presumably, under scrutiny of the electorate, the district boards and state board would select the best qualified of their own to serve in the leadership positions. If a person's service was not satisfactory, they could readily be demoted by their board.
Yes, those who end up on the boards could still form cliques that act arbitrarily and ill-advisedly, but that is far less likely because of their geographic dispersion and being readily dealt with come election time.
Cook is an author, artist and inventor who lives in Hurricane.