Do right by White

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 25, 2009

By Staff
John White Sr. had represented the residents of District 3 long and well on the county’s Board of Education before he resigned at the end of last year. As they choose his replacement, current board members from the other eight districts should look for someone who truly represents District 3.
There will be a temptation to base the decision on other qualities.
Some candidates may get along well, on a personal level, with the board members. That’s great, but it shouldn’t be the overriding factor in the decision.
And some candidates probably will back the same policy positions as a majority of the board members. The goal, though, should be finding an independent thinker who will do what he or she thinks is right regardless of potential peer pressure.
White served for many years on the board and worked as a teacher for years before that. In his conduct on the board, he was always calm and professional.
He resigned because he thought just-departed Superintendent Jeff Moss was pushed out the door for political reasons. White said he was prevented by confidentiality rules from discussing specifics that led to Moss’ decision to leave.
White criticized the rapid turnover in the Superintendent’s Office. Moss was here for five years; so was the man before him. White thought a leader who stuck around for a while would have a much better chance to significantly improve the school system.
We think a former teacher might be a great candidate to replace White, though concerned citizens of any background might bring strong leadership to issues before the board.
An inside understanding of our education system, however, is definitely a plus.
White thought a lot and spoke relatively little. His replacement would do well to continue that behavior.
White also kept up with education trends. He went to state conferences, talked to people and listened. We need a candidate willing to do the same.
White’s replacement also must emphasize finding a new superintendent who will stay in the job for more than five years.
We’re not sure that will be a popular position with the board. When it became clear Moss was considering leaving, board members didn’t send any public signals that he ought to stay, and they readily accepted his resignation.
White’s replacement must also represent the disenfranchised and minorities.
Like it or not, our current system includes some districts that are designed to help promote minority voices White’s is one.
To help promote those voices, the district swerves and swoops through the northeastern part of the county, taking in parts of six voting precincts.
White strongly represented his constituents. The skin color of his replacement isn’t what matters, though. Regardless of color, White’s replacement must identify with his or her constituents and be willing to fight for them.
This appointment is especially important because the new board member won’t face an election for nearly four years.
Most people similarly appointed statewide face voters at the next convenient election. But the state law that joined the Washington City and Beaufort County school systems in the early 1990s also created the unusual election timeline.
We think that little glitch should be corrected as soon as the folks in Raleigh can manage.
Interested applicants should call the Beaufort County Board of Elections at (252) 946-2321 to verify that they live in District 3.
Applications are available at the central administration office at the intersection of Smaw Road and U.S. Highway 264, or online at