This morning brings news of a "planned" political take-over of the Prince George's County public school system by the county executive. The news is light on detail; what this means and how would it happen are not included in the reports from the Washington Post. A quick, not-very-thorough-on-my-part review of the County House Delegation's legislation does not provide any useful information.
We are left with only the broadest concept of a proposal, therefore, which seems to provide a mechanism for the county executive to hold accountable the next superintendent while giving him or her immensely more power. In other words the idea seems to be to make the superintendent answer directly to the county executive.
The school system is broken at the political level and has been for more than a decade. It is clear that doing the same thing over and over, while at the same time expecting different results, is the very definition of insanity. Change at the top is what is needed, and this change is more than a change of personalities. The change at the top has to be a change in the processes that enable political control of the system through new pathways of accountability for the hard-working qualified professionals who struggle in the winds of our confused, chaotic, parochial politics enabled by powerful self-interests. We need to place success squarely on the shoulders of one person and, then, remove him or her from office by ballot in four years if he or she is unable to produce results.
It is always hard to weigh in with an opinion before the facts are laid out, but we live in a county where we usually get the facts after a decision is made or at least when it is too late in the process to change a decision substantively. With the opaqueness inherent in our county's political process, it becomes necessary to voice opinion early even at the risk of having to do an about-face when the political elite allows mere mortals to see the actual details of their grand design.
I reserve judgment until I see the details of the proposal, but conceptually at a very high level I support this structural change in the interest of actually permitting a quality education for our citizens of tomorrow.
 Ovetta Wiggins. March 16, 2013. "Prince George’s county executive moves to take over struggling school system". Washington Post. [accessed March 17, 2013] http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/prince-georges-executive-moves-to-take-over-struggling-school-system/2013/03/16/9d38d624-8d81-11e2-9838-d62f083ba93f_story.html