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Loose Lips (9/6) has un-masked the campaign of the Washington Post and others to install Post Vice President for Communications Vincent Reed as Superintendent of the D.C. schools in place of the embattled incumbent, Franklin Smith.

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Before anyone seriously considers such a move, let’s remember that Reed was superintendent during the most disastrous school opening in memory. The weeks of systemwide chaos that followed Reed’s abruptly firing over 400 teachers in 1980 lingers in the memory of those, like myself, whose children were affected. In contrast, Smith has just completed a RIF (reduction in force) of over 400 teachers that went so smoothly that the general public hardly noticed. Moreover, in Smith’s RIF, decisions on retention of teachers were based heavily on competence and performance, not just on seniority—a major innovation in any civil service system. As a result, dynamic and committed young teachers are still inspiring our children while many of those suffering from terminal burnout are no longer inflicting pedagogical harm on defenseless youngsters.

Smith has made many errors in judgment and has not been strong enough to successfully grapple with the entrenched bureaucracy, but he is clearly the best superintendent we have had in decades. Those, like the Post, who want to go back to the future, either have very short memories or are motivated by considerations that have nothing to do with educating children.

Friendship Heights

via the Internet