Editor's Focus: Education's Most Wanted

Several education administrators are receiving bad press lately.

Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

In what easily could be an episode of “America's Most Wanted,” a handful of education administrators are proving to be textbook examples of the proverbial “few bad apples” — and their actions are casting a disturbing shadow over a profession that should be receiving accolades rather than bad press. Among the more notorious examples over the past few months:

  • A former superintendent of East Detroit Public Schools was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution for his role in a scheme that drained more than $3 million out of two districts' coffers.

  • A regional superintendent in Prince George's County Schools, Md., was one of 31 people charged in a 324-count indictment alleging the ring distributed more than $20 million worth of cocaine and marijuana since September 1996.

  • A former assistant superintendent for business of the William Floyd School District in Mastic Beach, N.Y., was charged with stealing $687,850 from the district and the state's teachers' pension system. His arrest comes seven months after the district's former treasurer was charged with writing at least $700,000 in checks to himself from the district.

  • A former River Rouge, Mich., school superintendent pleaded guilty to extortion, stating he simply continued a practice started by his predecessors.

  • A former teacher and administrator at Texas Southern University in Houston was indicted by a grand jury on charges of stealing nearly $22,000 earmarked for a student internship program.

Although these individuals are not representative of the tens of thousands of administrators leading our nation's schools and universities, the unfavorable attention they are drawing to the profession does make it more difficult for those trying earnestly to make a difference by shaping young lives and improving their communities.

Let's ensure that the term “Education's Most Wanted” does not end up being derogatory — but rather symbolizes a desire to attract, nurture and keep exceptional leaders in our schools and universities.

Scorecard

63,351

Total number of administrative staff in the nation's public school districts, fall 2001.

45,712

Total number of administrative staff in the nation's public school districts, fall 1992.

39

Percent increase from 1992 to 2001 in administrative staff in the nation's public school districts.

TEXAS

State with the largest number of school district administrative staff (7,956), fall 2001.

IDAHO

State with the smallest number of school district administrative staff (122), excluding the District of Columbia, fall 2001.

149,051

Total number of full-time administrative staff in the nation's public and private higher-education institutions, fall 2001.

Source: NCES, Digest of Education Statistics, 2003.

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