Secret selection process for state ed leader helps no one

Published 12:00 pm Friday, October 4, 2013

The Mississippi Board of Education conducted its search for a new leader in complete secrecy, never once acknowledging who the candidates were or allowing the public the opportunity to meet them. As a result, questions now surround their choice, Carey Wright.

Wright served as the chief academic officer for Washington, D.C., public schools during a time that hundreds of teachers were caught participating in multiple cheating scandals. While Wright was never implicated in the scandals, that she worked directly under the former superintendent who left as a result of the scandals is important information. Unfortunately, according to multiple Board of Education members, this topic was never discussed.

We find it hard to believe that the entire Board of Education was oblivious to the scandal that captured national headlines. …

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The arguments against having an open search are not at all convincing. The most common argument is that an open process limits the pool of applicants who don’t wish their current employers to know they are looking, but that argument is not what it is cracked up to be. One has to look no further than Wright for proof. Over the past 12 months, she has participated in three open searches for superintendents at large school districts. Most of the candidates in those searches were employed at the time.

Furthermore, Mississippi doesn’t need a state superintendent who does not believe in an open and transparent approach to public education. Given the issues facing public education here, we need a leader who not only is capable of running the department and working with lawmakers but who also can effectively and honestly communicate with parents, educators and taxpayers.