Thursday, July 27, 2006

Will the Bama BOE please demonstrate "leadership"?

You'd think they'd learn! But this is Alabama. Slowing down and holding open meetings and seeking public input and ... would seem to be a good move toward the Alabama Board of Education resolving the disaster of our two- year colleges that their lack of oversight and openness has brought. Here they go again.

Indeed Dr. Thomas Corts, retired President of Samford University, might be a good choice as Acting Chancellor, yet as the B'ham News notes the manner of making the choice is very poor form. The News opines:

For the record, that's not what Alabama's open-meeting law envisions. With narrow exceptions, public boards and bodies are supposed to make decisions in public. Meeting in public to ratify decisions made in private at the very least violates the spirit of the law.

But even if you disregard the law - and a majority of the board is apparently all too willing to do that - private decision-making is the wrong way to set the two-year system on a more accountable and trustworthy course. How can the board demand openness from the people it hires if it's not willing to operate in the sunshine itself?

If Corts is the best person to take the helm of this badly listing ship, an open process is only going to make that fact more apparent.

If the school board goes the back-room route to hiring Corts, it's not only a disservice to taxpayers but a disservice to him.

What is complicated about this? Instead of Governor Riley going along with and in fact enabling this end run he should have reminded the BOE what has gotten us into this mess.

As an aside, Dr. Corts' service with Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform seems like a damn fine sign, even if the BOE can't show him the way. Like many here, he'll just have to work around the lack of leadership and the many barriers toward progress. Peace ... or War!