Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools have long been at the top of the game in education. In years past they had stiff competition from Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, where I was raised. One year, one would be ranked highest, the next year the other would be. They were the two best in the country for many years.
Today, things are a little different. Neither rank in the top ten and both are scrambling to try and get better, maybe even get back where they once were, academically speaking.
I do not know what is happening in Montgomery County these days as I no longer live there; I live in Fairfax County now.
One small elementary school in the county had a run of bad luck… a fire, falling test scores, and the various accoutrements of an economically-challenged neighborhood.
Then they had a remarkable principal for several years who took initiatives to a new level and got the poor scores turned around. She was honored as “Principal of the Year” for the county and retired.
An interim principal continued the good works and the test scores maintained their excellent levels while the search went on for a new permanent administrator for the school.
At last, the district superintendent announced the name and, as it turned out, this person had grown up in the neighborhood and had attended that same school when he was beginning his road to becoming an educator. It seemed a match made in heaven.
In retrospect, someone should have noticed the slight odor emanating from the vicinity but the rosy glow of nostalgia and opportunity was a little too bright to notice the flinty gleam.
Ah, well, underhanded deals behind closed doors seem far too “dirty politics” to think of in regard to the machinations at an elementary school but that was what was going down in Fairfax.
A new Superintendent of Public Instruction had taken over the job a year before and she was intent on reorganizing the sagging structure. This restructuring was not widely known, at the time.
The new principal at this elementary school came in and scaled back all the programs that had been working to increase the academic levels and resorted to the old “tried-and-true” kill and drill that are the bread-and-butter of the incompetent.
At the end of the year, even before the echo of the last day’s bell had ceased its reverberation, the new principal announced that he was leaving. Seems the district super had been promoted to a higher position and the new position of “super-principal” had been created beneath the superintendent’s level. This guy was being appointed – promoted – to the new position.
If you kind of get the impression that this old switcheroo was in the works before the fellow had been assigned to this elementary school, you would have been a sure winner. Both the district superintendent and the principal had wasted two years’ educational excellence on the needy children of the school simply to insure they could move upward into their higher positions the following year.
Yes, I have heard it being excused as they were looking out for the better career move, or excused because they could now be in a position to help even more children…
Any excuse would surely work. They have been used for centuries to cover a great many crimes and misdemeanors, so what’s one more, huh?
The reality is the semi-worthless product they produced for this one school is probably about the best they can do. And now they are in positions of even greater authority to spread that incompetency far and wide. Who knows but what one or both will later become the country Superintendent of Public Instruction and we can see the same laissez faire enforced countywide.
Fairfax may then find itself struggling to break into the Top 100 School Systems in the nation.
The bottom line on this insanity is that the changes the guy left in place when he left were inherited by the newest incoming principal. Now she is stuck with the horrible test scores engendered by the changes made by the incompetent “Super Principal”. She is at a loss to understand how they could have gone so badly, so quickly, and more importantly: how can the situation be turned around before her school losses its accreditation?
It would have served everyone better if the district super could have just moved on and carried his golden-haired step-child into their rosy futures without infecting this school with their subversion.
Stupidity breeds stupidity. It does not take a genius to figure that out.
Now if they can just get the school back to what it was doing – which worked so well – before that pair of incompetents decided to “fix” what wasn’t broken to begin with.
May 2020 update: the principal turned “super principal” has indeed left the county and was hired to straighten out a struggling school system in New York. A month into his term as Superintendent there, he turned in his resignation and moved to another county not beset by so many problems. As expected, he is entirely incompetent. I pray the school system under his care can someday recover from his “guidance”.]