Friday, April 10, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Educators young, old

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School District may hire a superintendent who is nearing retirement age. Meanwhile, it’s been suggested that the district will fire aging teachers in favor of establishing a young and innovative faculty.

Readers learned this week that Tony Wood, 64, the state’s former education commissioner, is the frontrunner to lead Jacksonville’s new school district. Wood is not much younger than the ageless Bobby Lester, the interim superintendent, who said he doesn’t want to work past this summer. He is 70.

A search firm said Wood was the most qualified applicant for the job based on his long education career.

We don’t necessarily disagree, but it did get our attention that his professional experience was emphasized while classroom-level educators are being criticized for their old and stodgy ways as well as being overpaid.

To critics, “young and innovative” can be interpreted as cheaper and less experienced.

The new district shouldn’t do away with older staff members just to save money at the risk of having a less balanced faculty. After all, new teachers will need advice from their older peers as they learn their new profession.

About half of new teachers leave the field within three years, according to studies. Could that turnover rate become even higher in the Jacksonville district?

The new district will have to secure its finances and that will mean reconfiguring teacher salaries, but JNPSD must be certain that it will have capable teachers in the classroom.

Building a district on the cheap is too risky.