Advertisement

Editorial - An honest evaluation

September 05, 1997

Last week's release of a management audit of the Washington County school system was the most damaging news about the school system since the 1995 revelations of financial irregularities that led to the dismissal of two top school officials.

In a way, last week's news is worse, because the deficiencies turned up by an Indiana consulting company - including a "dysfunctional" organizational structure and poor procedures for teacher training - can't be corrected by throwing a few department heads out the door. This fix will require as much effort as building a new business, and it will take years.

On the plus side, the consultants, the board members and headquarters personnel praised the teachers, who've held the system together when they could have been suing the administration for the professional equivalent of non--support. In addition to the need for better training, it's clear now that the slippage that's occurred in the teachers' salary scale must be addressed, unless Washington County wants only those teachers the higher-paying systems have passed on. And that means not just talking about new revenue sources, but making a commitment to develop them.

Advertisement

The school board has started this journey in the right way, by being honest about the audit's findings and not trying to minimize them. Too many times over the years citizens have heard school board staffers provide a variety of explanations for poor student performance on standardized tests. Everything from too many snow days in the month preceding the test to an increase in the number of students being tested has been blamed for scores that dipped or didn't rise as expected.

By releasing this report without disputing its findings, school board members are sending the message that the time for excuses is over, and the time to get on with repairs is at hand.

We'll have more comments as this process develops, but as a first step, let's resist the temptation to spend a lot of time placing blame for what's happened. There is too much to be done to worry about history that nobody can change now.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|