Fresh Look: State superintendent should shake things up

Some degree of continuity is needed in public school supervision at the state level in West Virginia. But at the same time, things need to be shaken up. A look at measures of school quality, some adopted by state officials, makes that clear.

Perhaps the most important job in the state’s public school system is that of state superintendent. The incumbent, Steve Paine, revealed recently he plans to retire June 30.

Paine himself, working with the state Board of Education, has launched some reform initiatives. One involves teaching mathematics, an area where there is a clear and present need to do better.

State school board members have the authority to hire a replacement for Paine. A few days ago, board President Dave Perry spoke to another media outlet about that.

Finding a new superintendent quickly is important, he said. Of course.

Perry said doing so is “very critical to the stability, the continuity and the transition needs to be as smooth as it can be.”

But stability and continuity in one respect are the very last things schools in our state need. State board members should be looking for someone willing to take on the established interests that have blocked real reform for years.

In some ways, we need a rebel more interested in educating West Virginia students than serving the special interests that have held sway for so long — and board members should keep their eyes open for one.