FOR THE SECOND consecutive time, one of Washington's most important elections and governmental realignments has been held without fanfare, with candidates elected unanimously -- and with good prospects for still more progress in the coming term. The winners, re- elected by their colleagues, are R. David Hall, president of the school board, and Linda Cropp, vice president. Their selection is not only a credit to the effectiveness of their leadership but also to the service of the school board as a whole. For anyone still harboring horrible memories of a previous decade -- when the school board was an arena for nasty personal battles -- any similarity between those antics and the board's activities today is inconsequential.
At that, Mr. Hall is not at all ready to relax. "We can't settle for C-plus," he says. "We must build a system of high quality and superiority, if you will, in the public schools." What is different now is that Mr. Hall, Mrs. Cropp and the other members of the board can point to failures, not cover them up or blame them on each other, as their predecessors once reveled in doing. Today's board members talk not of sabotaging the superintendent, but of assisting her in seeking appropriate financing and creative programs to keep those test scores and skills rising.
It is the work of board members, for example, that has produced troubling findings of excessive absenteeism on the part of some teachers. Mr. Hall says the board will address this issue promptly. The board also will be looking into ways to expand a remedial reading program started recently at Cardozo High School. Another target for improvement will be procurement procedures; books and supplies still aren't arriving as promptly as they should.
Parents, teachers, administrators and Superintendent Floretta Dukes McKenzie surely will add still other concerns to the board's agenda. No one is predicting armies of National Merit Scholars on the next roster, but good things are continuing to happen in the D.C. public schools -- and the board members are important contributors to this progress.