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Letters: Don't change school director selection process

Johnson City Press • Feb 24, 2019 at 6:00 AM

We asked you with Monday’s Question of the Week whether directors of schools should be elected in Tennessee. Here are some of your responses.

No to popularity contests

NO! If they are chosen by the school board or whoever, at least there would be some thought going into it. I certainly don't want that choice to be a popularity contest. Just because someone is liked by the voters doesn't mean a thing as far as ability to make the schools good.

BAKER FRALEY
Johnson City

It narrows our options

The last thing we need is to return to an elected director of schools. Many reasons can be given against returning to this method.

The current system allows a school board to hire anyone from across the United States. The election of the director will narrow the number of candidates because the person must reside within the school district at the time of election. Many small districts will have difficulty finding qualified candidates who are willing to run for the position. In some districts in Mississippi, where the election of superintendents is allowed, the position was uncontested as there was only one person who lived in the district who wanted the job. The citizens had no choice but to elect him.

The director of schools would not be accountable to the school board because they cannot fire him/her. This person, once elected, could do irreparable harm to the district and its children and nothing could be done until the next election, four years later.

A person with no educational experience, but with extreme wealth, can flood the homes with fliers while the more qualified person, who might have little money, has no way to get his point across.

Returning to the days of electing the director of schools would be a bad decision for the state of Tennessee. Our current system is not broken. We do not need to fix it.

GREGG HUDDLESTONE
Gray

Campaigns are distracting

Absolutely not!

Our schools have better directors chosen by school boards from the best available candidates. These directors concentrate on operating the best schools possible within the available funding.

Prior to 1992, the school directors ran for election. They had to concentrate on raising funds for election campaigns and the politics involved in getting elected.

These political activities came at the expense of directing schools to the best of their abilities.

GEORGE R. BECKER
Johnson City

Don’t politicize education

It is difficult to believe that an individual such as Sen. Delores Gresham is the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee for our state. Also Rep. Micah Van Huss, Republican from Jonesborough, has picked a true loser piece of legislation to support.

As a former member of the Johnson City Board of Education, I can say unequivocally that legislation to elect the superintendent or director of schools is a fast-track back to the dark ages of education. The members of the board are elected by the people to choose the individual who will supervise the school system and report to the board. What possible sense can it make to further politicize education by electing the superintendent?

From personal experience, I know the importance of choosing a qualified person of integrity to fill this position. No board will always get it right, but the odds are in their favor. Sen. Gresham and Rep. Van Huss should find something to support that will better our education system, not put it back into the hands of politics.

CAROLYN OVERBAY
Johnson City

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