ONE OF THE SWELL sounding, but misguided, legislative efforts under way in the city council is a move to require the elected school board to be "accountable" to the council for education goals and policies. The seemingly constructive idea here is to give the city council a role in determining what the council members as educational overseers is contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the city charter.
Moreover, it comes at precisely the wrong moment. Two or three superintendents ago, one could have been tempted to embrace a bill eatablishing more supervision of school system doings.After all, the constant wars over who was "in charge" of the schools - the board or the superintendents - made any offer of leadership seem attractive. But now, Washington's public school system appears to be getting its act together under a low-profile, high-output school board and a top-flight administrator-superintendent who already has taken impressive steps to tighten up and improve the entire educational system.
Indeed, Superintendent Vincent E. Reed and the school board have been working hand in hand on curriculum development programs, proposals to upgrade graduation requirements and better testing procedures. In fact, school board member Minnie Shumate Woodson points out that the bulk of the language in one of the council bills is lifted almost directly from Mr. Reed's annual report for 1976.
It's little wonder, therefore, that the school board did not attend the council hearing on the "accountability" bills last month, but instead sent a polite letter to Julius W. Hobson Sr., head of the council's committee on education, recreation and youth affairs, recognizing the council's concern. Board President Therman E. Evans also noted in the letter that the board and the superintendent will establish special briefing sessions on a regular basis for members of the city council and their key staff aides.
Concerned citizen's groups, including the D.C. Citizens for Better Public Education and the Washington Urban League, agree with the school board's decision that it is responsible for setting educational policies and goals. We agree. The council bills should be scrapped.