by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
The Charlotte Observer reports that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education hired Earnest Winston to be their new superintendent.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board moved swiftly Friday to name acting superintendent Earnest Winston to the job long-term under a three-year contract. He becomes the district’s fifth superintendent in little more than eight years.
The board voted unanimously in a two-minute meeting, with member Sean Strain absent, to hire Winston to replace Clayton Wilcox. Winston will lead the nation’s 18th-largest school district with 148,000 students and 19,000 employees.
Friday’s meeting came two weeks after the board voted to accept Wilcox’s resignation, which took effect Friday. Wilcox had been suspended with pay since July 15 for reasons the board still has not publicly divulged.
There are plenty of critics out there who say that he is not qualified because he lacks the experience and credentials that typical superintendent candidates possess. I am a bit more optimistic. I think non-traditional superintendents can do well, so long as they assemble a strong team, know how to navigate fiscal, regulatory, and political constraints, and focus on student achievement above all else.
That said, I agree with those who criticize the school board for failing to conduct an actual search for a new superintendent. Even if Mr. Winston was their top candidate, it never hurts to explore other options.