As much I would love to tap dance on the educational grave of now-outgoing Indianapolis Public School Superintendent Eugene White, I can't.
I'm not upset that a man who helped run the district into the ground is being paid $800,000 (the remainder of his contract) to retire in April; hell, I'd have given up scotch, cigars and my comic collection if that's what it took to get rid of him. However, the sad part is that this is what it has come to.
The story of Eugene White is a story of a man who came to town with such promise and potential, but at the end of the day became simply the personification of the politburo that had become Indianapolis Public Schools.
Millions is lost dollars due to declining enrollment, several schools taken over by the state of Indiana, inflated graduation rates, the list of headlining events just went on and on.However, come April 5, that is all said and done. At the close of business, Dr. White will leave and the door will hit him where God split him, as my lovely mother would say. So with White on the way out, what's next for the state's largest school district? I'll tell you: opportunity.
There is an opportunity to really transform IPS into a model school district where learning is celebrated and results are plentiful. I think the new school board that is in place will do wonders, if they seize this moment. The first thing they should do is not hire a Superintendent to replace Dr. White. If my memory serves me correct, state law has been changed in the past few years to allow school districts to hire someone with business acumen to run the place.
And that is exactly what IPS needs, someone with the business savvy of a Warren Buffett and the street smarts and attitude of a Joe Clark. Once they find that person they should immediately fire half the central office and return that power to the individual schools. Give principals virtual autonomy over their schools. Give them their own budgets, the ability to hire and fire and the power to run their school as they see fit. The only caveat is that they better get results. And any school which receives a failing grade from the state more than two years in a row? That principal is gone. Period!
If you really want to be radical, you could put the entire school district up for bid to be operated by private management. Of course that would have the some of the locals (see, I didn't use the term natives this time) going ballistic, but I am for anything that improves the quality of education.
Back to my original point, Dr. White could have been a hero and a rock star had he just not been corrupted by the bureaucratic mentality of the central office. Now he's gone. And while I won't have Eugene White to kick around anymore, thousands of school children will no longer be subject to his education malpractice.