15 December 2008

Missing Education

Am I the only one who finds it curious that of all the secretary-level nominations Luis "Larva" Fortuño has made so far, there hasn't been one mention of a Secretray of Education?

The local Education department is by far the largest chunk of the government's budget and represents the largest single-agency percentage of employees, key people in not only the bureaucracy, but in every electoral process on this Island.

The scuttlebutt is that The Larva's first two nominees turned down even interviewing for the position. The reasons are fairly obvious: The department is the center of deep controversy, as well as federal fund audits, massive levels of incompetence, excess payroll and steadily-decreasing results. What is less known is that Education's long history of failure is seriously jeapordizing its future, particularly regarding federal funds.

As Puerto Rico slips farther and farther behind in compliance with the (useless-but-the-only-game-in-town) No Child Left Behind program, future federal funds are either slipping out of reach or are now completely out of reach. In other words, Puerto Rico faces a serious education crisis in the coming year... and whoever's at the helm will be the captain of an out-of-control garbage scow heading straight towards an iceberg.

Not exactly the position any self-respecting person wants.

I'll grant that The Larva may have asked the top-qualified people first. But I know that the truly top-qualified candidates will not want to take this job. Simple: there's no upside. There's only multiple and frequent chances to scuff, mar or permanently tarnish a sterling reputation developed over a lifetime.

So who's left? The second-tier candidates, people whose resumés might lack a key element or two in terms of degree or experience, but who will take on the challenge because it gives them a chance to "stretch" that they may have never been able to get. Look here for someone who comes in from the sub-executive ranks of government, the school or district level in Education or comes if rom the outside, more administrator than educator.

And that could be the salvation for what is The Larva's possible stumbling block. By having to look beyond "the obvious," he is forced to find a Secretary who is more manager than teacher, more worker than bootlicker, more results-oriented than politically-motivated. If nothing else, it will at least represent a step up from crass fundraisers and air-headed theorists.

Now let's sit back and see who's nominated. The next thing to watch is whether s/he will get past the Senate's crapfest of a nomination review process: it could turn out to be the very first legislative/executive power test. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

5 comments:

Gabriel said...

I was hoping he and his advisors were taking extra time to make sure they have a good candidate or even rethinking the position. They don need a top teacher, they need a Lou Gerstner.
But you are probably right.

James said...

Gil, why don't you put your mom's hat in the ring. She'd probably do a great job because she has one thing: experience and courage. Two, two things, experience, courage, and a willingness to kick ass. Three, three things... bah, I'll come in again.

Hell, Laura or I'd do it, but _I_ don't have the pedigree (PhD from a certificate mill) and Laura hasn't finished writing her dissertation. But I swear I'd do it, and I'm a fucking boy scout... no corruption here.

Gil C. Schmidt said...

James, thanks for thinking of My mom. If nothing else, she would at least see through the bullcrap the teachers' unions try to fob off as "professional improvement."

As for you or Laura, both of you have business administration experience. That, I feel, is more valuable than a Ph.D. in Education.

Gil C. Schmidt said...

Gabriel, have you noticed how far Chardón is from a Gerstner? More like Ken Lay...

Gabriel said...

Hahaaaa! Yeah
Education Dept needs people who think about their responsibility, not politics. Heck, all agencies need that.