Keep school superintendent an appointed job

Johnson City Press • Oct 12, 2017 at 12:00 AM

More than two decades ago, Tennessee lawmakers approved a visionary K-12 reform plan that included a provision requiring all school superintendents (who are also called director of schools in some districts) to be appointed by local boards of education instead of being elected every four years by the voters.

The idea behind the move was to bring a greater degree of professionalism to the position of school superintendent by insulating the job from petty politics and cronyism.

Appointing experienced school superintendents was not a new concept when it become law in 1992. Most municipal school systems already were doing it in Tennessee.

Even so, there is always legislation filed in the state General Assembly to put the job of school superintendent back on the ballot. We should expect one or two such bills to be introduced next year, and don’t be surprised if one comes from a lawmaker representing Washington County where there have been discussions of late regarding the power of the school superintendent to make personnel decisions independently.

Instead of putting the job of school superintendent back on the ballot, we believe voters should take a greater interest in local races for the Board of Education. Races for seats on the school board rarely get the attention they deserve. And they really do need attention.

Electing the school superintendent does nothing to remedy that. In fact, it would only return schools to the political theatrics and overt cronyism of the past.

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