Utah’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Martell Menlove is retiring, and the questions raised by his exit from the State Office of Education don’t have anything to do with the LDS mission he may serve with his wife.
Selected unanimously by the state school board after just ninety minutes of deliberation in 2012, the process of Menlove’s appointment was seen as less than thorough by some legislators, though none criticized the selection itself.
Menlove is well-regarded throughout Utah, with Governor Gary Herbert and former State Superintendent Patti Harrington thanking him for his service.
With the vacancy as Menlove retires, the state board has the opportunity to conduct a more thorough candidate selection process than in the past.
While the importance of having a reliable leader in Utah’s top education post cannot be understated, the selection of a new superintendent should not be rushed. For context, Dixie State University has been looking for a new president since Stephen Nadauld stepped down in October, and the Canyons School District has been without a permanent Superintendent since spring of 2013 when David S. Doty moved on (three finalists announced today, so we may be approaching a decision soon).
Utah should take its time as well and get the decision right.
With seventy candidates for just seven open seats on the state school board, there is an increased level of attention and concern about the way the Utah Board of Education is managing education across the state. The process matters as much as who is selected and can do a lot to alleviate, and address, those concerns.
Take your time, Board members, and make the right selection. Not only will a careful, informed, and open selection process alleviate concerns of many that the Board of Education is stuck in the status quo of yesteryear, but it will bring in candidates that can stay longer, have a more lasting impact, and get a grip on the education bureaucracy that has tended to fall back on the past rather than embracing the future.
Previously posted at Publius Online.