Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4: Dade School Board Is An Embarrassment, and Its Organization Is a Mess

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Another day, another Miami-Dade School Board meeting that may needlessly go into the wee small hours. This time, the subject is the future of School Superintendent Rudy Crew.

Three board members - Renier Diaz de la Portilla, Ana Rivas Logan and Marta Perez - support his firing. As this is written, the hearing goes on...and on.

Unless something shocking happens, Crew will likely keep his job, at least for now, and he should. It would not be surprising, though, if Crew eventually does what Angela Gittens did. Gittens, the former director of Miami International Airport, resigned in 2004 after years of conflict with Miami-Dade County leaders.

Crew has his flaws; he's not always accessible, and the current problems with United Teachers of Dade over the district's budget are as much his responsibility as the School Board's. But he's done nothing to merit his firing. And the issue runs the risk of reopening the long-festering wounds between the Cuban and African-American communities; the matter has already come up at today's hearing.

It seems the train wreck is attracting viewers to the meetings on WLRN-Channel 17:

While public television stations always appreciate more viewers, no one likely appreciates the reason: The Miami-Dade School Board is dysfunctional and an embarrassment to all it serves.

Several years ago, it was thought that the School Board was headed for reform with the election of several members who had actually worked in a classroom recently. No such luck.

Perhaps the ongoing feuds and controversies are a final indication that the exclusive single-member district system put into effect during the 1990s is unworkable in Dade. There was always the danger that School Board members would fend only for their territory at the county's expense, and it came to that long ago.

Dade would benefit from the checks-and-balances system in Broward County, where there are at-large school board members elected countywide, in addition to those who come from single-member districts. In the short term, the School Board members would benefit from shutting their mouths during these lengthy meetings, and opening their minds to the community they serve.

No comments: