Ed leaders stuck on what’s first

M ississippi’s Board of Education appears to have a “chicken or the egg” problem when it comes to implementing the latest idea for dealing with failing school districts.

Last week, the board that oversees the state’s K-12 public schools put off deciding which districts would be the initial members of a statewide achievement district.The two most likely candidates are Humphreys County and Neshoba County, both of which fit all the criteria for dismal academic performance.

The board said it wanted to wait on this determination until it knew who was going to be the superintendent of the new achievement school district.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent Carey Wright has said that without knowing which districts will be under the new district’s control, it’s going to be hard to field applicants for the achievement district’s head position. The first search earlier this year failed to produce a candidate.

Someone is going to have to give on which comes first. The board should.

Decide which districts could best benefit from this novel approach, then go about finding a person with the skills to handle running an operation of that size.

Clearly, the state can’t put all the districts that are failing into this one consolidated turnaround effort. It’s going to still have to use conservatorships in some places, as it has in Leflore County, despite the less-than-spectacular track record at that type of takeover.

Will the achievement school district achieve better results? The indecision on the state board in getting this district set up suggests that education leaders are not confident it will.