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Next superintendent needs experience in fixing problems

By   /   November 15, 2012  /   Comments

When Joshua Murfree was hired, the school board sought to hide the other finalists from our eyes.  They didn’t want us to know that both finalists had experience turning around school systems, which happened to be exactly what we needed in this community.  Now, there is a chance to remedy that mistake.

Our next superintendent needs that experience.  The Dougherty County School System is a disaster.  Anyone can look at any metric they want and see that as plainly as you please.  It’s not rocket science, it’s simple fact.  Also, it didn’t get there overnight.

However, those who have turned around systems in other places have done it relatively quickly.  Oh, it takes them a few years, but compared to the decades it takes to make things that bad?  It happens quickly by comparison, which is a good thing.

For years now, people have fled Albany for the greener economic pastures of Lee County.  I can’t say that I blame them either.  I’ve considered it myself, and still haven’t ruled it out in the least.  In order to combat this, Dougherty County has to have as good of an educational system as humanly possible, and that starts with leadership.

We have new members of the school board coming in.  One of the so-called “Failed Four” actually stepped up and did the right thing by voting for Murfree’s ouster.  James Bush did something good, so maybe there’s hope for him.  Anita Williams-Brown voted to keep Murfree.  She’s gone once Lane Price is sworn in.  The Failed Four, even if Bush returns to previous form, now number only three.  That’s not enough to keep things from changing for the better.

So now, they have to find a new superintendent.  It’s my hope that they look almost exclusively from outside.  Now, normally I’m a fan of promoting from within, but we have cronyism aplenty here in Albany.  By recruiting from without, you avoid many of the controversy you had with Murfree’s hiring.  Someone from Arkansas, for example, isn’t likely to have ties to board members here in Albany.

Besides, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone within our system really knows how to turn around the DCSS.  If they knew, I would like to think something would have been done by now.

Please note that there is no mention of race.  There’s a reason for that.  It just doesn’t matter.  Some have told me that they think a white person should be hired, and frankly I find that despicable.  Besides the idiocy of blaming Murfree’s incompetence on his skin color, I reminded these folks that the CRCT scandal happened under Sally Whatley’s reign.  You know, a white woman?  On top of that, James Culbreath was one of the best superintendents I feel we ever had in my lifetime.  You know, a black man?  Race has no place in this discussion.  I say that to those who think a black person should be hired as well.

To the school board members who will be making this decision, I ask that you do it right this time.  Let the community offer feedback.  Let the press share with the community the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate you chose as finalists.  Do it right this time, and let’s get someone who can do the job properly.

Don’t our children deserve that?

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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