In-state candidate should have edge

For nearly a year and a half, West Virginia has been without a permanent state superintendent of schools. James Phares took the job on an interim basis after the board fired former Superintendent Jorea Marple in November 2012.

State Board of Education members have been in no hurry to hire a long-term leader for public schools. But Phares’ announcement he will retire June 30 may accelerate the process.

It should go without saying that someone with a substantial amount of experience in West Virginia schools is the preferred candidate – all other things being equal. They never are, of course.

Perhaps to deflect criticism politics is involved in the process, state board members are involved in a national search for a new superintendent. It may be that some shining star of school reform is out there, just waiting to work wonders in West Virginia.

Again, however, knowledge of our state – the good and the not-so-good – and of our schools would be an enormous advantage. Some would say such experience is essential.

It will be up to board members to decide how much weight that carries. Clearly, however, in-state candidates for the job should go into any evaluation process with an edge.