The rumor mill rumbles: Ross for boss of the schools?

June 21, 1992|By Phil Greenfield

As any editorial page reader can tell you, educational issues tend to provoke great controversy these days, which is why it is noteworthy that so many voices from all quarters have been raised in favor of Acting Superintendent Berry Carter's ascension to the permanent hot seat.

The board, of course, is responding to this rare show of unanimity with silence, keeping Carter and everybody else dangling in the dark, perhaps until the July deadline is reached.

Why the delay? It's anybody's guess, but inside sources tell me the list of prospective superintendents is so distinguished, so laden with talent, that the board is having trouble making up its mind. And, need I tell you, where there are considerable "pros," can the formidable "cons" be far behind?

Since my sources have provided me a copy of the "short list" from which the board is choosing, let me share the candidates with you. Here are Mr. Carter's rivals:

* Ross Perot: The Texas billionaire is apparently keeping his options open in case the presidential campaign stalls. As a graduate of the Naval Academy, he certainly knows our area, and the board found him as personable and intriguing a prospect as they'd interviewed. Still, he was a bit short on specifics.

"Running a school is like running a business," he said. "I'll handle it. Just leave it to me."

The board, I'm told, was particularly excited by his willingness to provide the ISIS computers at cost and touched by his offer to pay for the activity buses out of his own pocket.

* Dan Quayle: The vice president is thought by some board members to be an inspired choice, especially for county youngsters with dyslexia or other learning disabilities who can learn firsthand that, in America, the inability to spell is no barrier to high elective office.

Quayle, however, is thought to be an outside possibility at best. At his last interview, one unimpressed board member reportedly told him, "Dan, I knew Larry Lorton. Larry Lorton was a friend of mine. And you're no Larry Lorton."

* Annapolis Mayor Al Hopkins: An Annapolis High grad. A knowledgeable fellow with a desire to serve his constituents well. He would undoubtedly project a nice, grandfatherly image to today's troubled youth.

His biggest liability in the board's eyes? When he gives his congratulatory speech to the graduating class of 1993, they might not actually get to the stage to pick up their diplomas until 1994.

* Sister Souljah: Good on multi-culturalism, but a tad weak in the human relations department.

* Secretary of Transportation James Lighthizer: A force to be reckoned with is a former county executive with vast administrative experience.

He raised a few eyebrows, however, with his insistence on being called "minister of education" instead of superintendent and his plans to link all 11 county high schools with a light rail system.

He's said to be at work already on a volume commemorating the first four years of his superintendency. Projected title: "Scholastic Excellence Through Strategic Planning."

He says his first official act will be the construction of an amphitheater and a gazebo at 2644 Riva Road.

* Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III: A late applicant is Secretary Garrett, the man who says he never saw "any inappropriate, offensive conduct" at that 1991 Navy fliers convention where 26 women claim they were sexually abused by some 70 officers.

Obviously, the Board of Education's idea of discipline is similar to Garrett's.

* Anne Arundel County Sun columnist Pat O'Malley: A JTC no-nonsense guy. Well known in the community for his forceful advocacy of higher grade-point standards for student athletes.

However, O'Malley seemed to puzzle the board with his tendency to answer the questions put to him with other questions.

"Isn't it something how so many schools are physically falling apart? Isn't it time we did something to ensure our children's safety? And isn't this an opportune time to make John Brady an assistant principal at Annapolis High, where the Silver Fox has already become a coaching legend over on Riva Road?

The Broadneck folks, I'm told, are still solidly behind him, though.

* Reps. Tom McMillen and Wayne Gilchrest: An inspired double entry, since only one can stay in his current job anyway.

So one will spend his next term subjecting himself to power grabbers, money grubbers and endless bureaucratic infighting.

The other will return to Congress.

* Bobby Neall, himself: As unprecedented as it would be to name a sitting county executive the superintendent of schools, the subject has been broached.

As one board member said, "He's already running the place anyway. We might as well give him an office."

Good luck, Berry.

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