It was perfectly reasonable for D.C. school superintendent Vincent E. Reed to ask the school board members to let him know promptly whether they intend to reappoint him for another three years or dismiss him when his current contract ends in March. The board should have begun this consideration long ago, for five months is too short a time for a smooth mid-academic-year change in superintendents. Besides, Vincent Reed deserves reappointment.
According to a report last week, certain board members have voiced some doubts about Mr. Reed's performance - though they are not anxious to be quoted by name. No wonder. The superintendent is a popular figure, and for good reason: He rescued this city from a decade of turmoil that had not only sapped the morale of teachers, parents and principals but also relegated the schools' forgotten constituents - the students - to the status of political pawns.
In his first full year as superintendent, Mr. Reed moved forcefully to effect desperately needed management controls - so necessary to any efficient classroom instruction. He placed a new emphasis on instruction in reading and mathematics. And in a welcome departure, he instructed the scools to give students standardized tests - and never mind whatever socio-economic difficulties students may have with them, for students need to be prepared for post-secondary education and careers.
Last year, the board unanimously commended Mr. Reed: "oustanding performance . . . great strides forward . . . your accomplishments have exceeded expectations . . . " Now, apparently, certain board member say they think Mr. Reed has a condescending attitude toward them, that he has been moving too slowly in establishing the new competency-based curriculum and that he doesn't respond well enough to problems brought to him by members.
It is hard to believe that Mr. Reed's performance has changed so radically from last year. The complaints - even if they were entirely true, which they aren't - don't strike us as grounds for dropping him. Naturally there is concern throughout the community that there has been no significant improvement yet in the educational performance of city school pupils. Considering the administrative chaos that Mr. Reed inherited, however, it is unfair to blame him for not having pulled off an educational miracle. If Vincent Reed still wants the job, he should get it. He should be given the chance to help produce the academic progress everyone desperately wants.