Changing Qualifications

To The Editor:
Chancellor Carmen Farina is requiring school superintendents to re-apply for their jobs. She is also setting a minimum of seven years as an educator as a qualification and reinstating the former stipulation that superintendents be mature adults.

Currently, many of the division heads and policy-making executives at the Department of Education only a few birthdays ago became eligible to attend “R”-rated movies unaccompanied by an adult.

We’ve got a good shot at recapturing the high bar of 1563 England, when the Statute of Artificers required craftsmen to be apprenticed for 7 years. Of course, most of the breed of active superintendents are not craftsmen, but it would be a step up for them if they were. Having a hook or bag-man is no substitute for training, skills, purity of motivation and experience.

We can learn even more from the past by revisiting the Middle Ages and appreciating the flip side of the Black Death. Sure, it killed around one-third of Europe’s population, but thanks to the law of supply and demand, that extinction strengthened the bargaining power of surviving workers.

Around that time, forerunners of modern unions went on strike for higher wages. They had less to fear from the Sheriff of Nottingham than they would have had from Walmart’s goon squads.

Let’s hope that Chancellor Farina continues to diversify her perspectives. By no means return to the ancient past of the cathedral-building guilds, whose members had as much discretionary income as Red State senators would allow workers. But let’s at least resuscitate aspects of the recent history of education that served America so well: meritocracy for teachers, principals and superintendents.

Ron Isaac,
Fresh Meadows