management by crisis – again
Posted by bsflag2007 on Sunday, January 21, 2007
What a disappointment. Not a surprise – but a disappointment nevertheless.
The Howard County Board of Education has been busy make decisions to not make decisions – to put of til tomorrow what is not in crisis today.
For reasons that are not entirely without logic – local Boards of Education are not empowered to “fire” the superintendents they “hire”. The idea is to keep crazy dysfunctional boards from creating perpetual havoc – one only has to look to our neighbors to the north (Pennsylvania) and the recent creationism fiasco to see why it is a good idea to provide some checks and balances.
On the other hand — the current situation gives a sitting superintendent a little too much autonomy, and places a too stringent burden on the employer (the local BOE and the citizens) to respond to an individual employee (superintendent or not) run amok. We only have to look to our own experience with John O’Rourke for evidence of how the pendulum swings in the other direction.
When it bacame clear that Mr. ORourke needed to be “let go” and we realized the existing state level regulations tied the hands of the local BOE in ways that were detrimental to the ability of the elected oversight body to effectively resolve a downwardly spiralling situation – efforts to revise the existing laws to give better balance to the “checks and balances” were begun.
Of course, these things take a long time, and are not effective for the resolution to a crisis situation. The original crisis was resolved at significant delay and financial expense. But the problematic regulations are still in place – waiting for the next time they impede the speedy resolution of a local problem.
In spite of support from our state delegation to advance the efforts to provide future Boards of Education with the additional “tools in the toolbox” which might be helpful not only in the event of a crisis – but which simply by being available would likely divert the kind of crisis we had here in HoCo with O’Rourke – our new BOE has made the “puzzling” decision to withdraw its’ support for the legislation to modify the existing policy.
Diane Mikulis said “Right now, it could be helpful to us in the future, but it’s not something we need in Howard County, we’re perfectly happy with our superintendent.”
Pat Gordon “questioned the relevance of the bill today” (The View).
Excuse me — it is either a wise modification or it is not. It is not a question of whether it is needed right now.
It is foolhardy to wait until a crisis is at hand – and then try to fix a legislative flaw.
Should the local Board of Education – the elected oversight committee for the largest publicly financed operation in the county – have the authority to make hiring and firing decisions (within the context of reasonable employment and contract laws) for its’ sole employee, the Superintendent?
The short answer is yes.
There are plenty of other safeguards to make sure the BOE does not run amok and willy nilly fire an effective contractual employee without cause.
But there are really no effective safeguards for the citizenry and the elected officials to respond when this individual employee runs amok.
But since we are not currently in crisis – our BOE has decided to retract its’ support for the efforts taken up during the last crisis. Apparently it is their plan to wait until “we need it” or it is immediately “relevant”.
Management by Crisis — what a fabulous idea.
It always works so effectively, and is cost effective as well.
What a disappointment.
But there are more disappointments to come from BOE. While Mr. Ulman ponders his “diversity candidate” – maybe he could look more toward a diversity in skills, experience, abilities, and philosophies instead of focusing on skin color or ethnicity alone.