CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I want to share with you what I believe should be the state's No. 1 priority for achieving a bold and comprehensive review, and possible reformation, of the state's public school system.
The West Virginia Board of Education, with the requested assistance of two former governors, Gaston Caperton and Bob Wise, and others, launch a nationwide search for exemplary candidates for the office of State Superintendent of Free Schools.
The State Superintendent, employed by the State Board to serve at its will and pleasure, should, above all, have a nationwide, indeed a worldwide, knowledge of proven and innovative ideas in student learning, in identifying, attracting and educating effective teachers, and in managing statewide school systems.
The State Superintendent should be a respected leader, critical thinker, problem solver, good collaborator and communicator, the very traits that we want our public schools to develop in our children.
The State Board should be prepared to pay an annual salary of at least $300,000 for the right person, as recently enacted S.B. 359 authorizes it to do. Each of the WVU football and basketball coaches receives an annual base salary of $250,000 to entertain us. The State ought to be willing to pay more than that to the State Superintendent, the "Chief School Officer of the State," to educate our children.
The State Superintendent, with his or her superior knowledge in such matters, should be thought of as the originator of education reform proposals, with the assistance of the Department of Education, for a revitalized State Board, free of control by others, to originate, react to and either implement, amend, or reject as educational policy, after eliciting comments from the public.
I do not believe there is a legal or practical alternative for achieving a bold and comprehensive review, and possible reformation, of the State's public school system as is sorely needed.
According to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia:
1. "The determination of the educational policies of the public schools of the State is vested in The West Virginia Board of Education [under the provisions of Art. XII, § 2 of the State Constitution], and, unless unreasonable or arbitrary, its actions relating to such polices will not be controlled by the courts."
2. "Rule-making by the State Board of Education is within the meaning of 'general supervision of state schools' pursuant to art. XII, § 2 of the West Virginia Constitution, and any statutory provision that interferes with such rule-making is unconstitutional."