It has taken nearly a decade, but the Anne Arundel County Board of Education finally has exercised some good sense in choosing a school superintendent. After eight years of two superintendents who understood next to nothing about operating one of the 40 largest school systems in the nation, the board has chosen the popular, deserving C. Berry Carter.
Mr. Carter has paid his dues and proven his worth. Starting as a teacher at Brooklyn Park Elementary School 38 years ago, he worked his way up through the ranks, becoming deputy superintendent in 1974. He spent many years as the school system's liaison to the General Assembly. He served as acting superintendent three times, and was passed over for the top post twice.
Now that he has it, Mr. Berry must direct the school system through some difficult times. One problem will plague him above all others: money.
The budget crisis guarantees that it will be a long time -- if ever -- before funds from state and local governments start flowing into education as they once did. Yet, thousands of children keep pouring into the Anne Arundel system every year. County school buildings are falling apart. Teachers, bitter from the sacrifices of the past two years, are demanding better pay. Parents cry for more money, more money, more money for everything from computers to after-school sports.
To satisfy these needs and wants, Mr. Carter will have to compete with every other jurisdiction in Maryland for state dollars. He also will have to work alongside Anne Arundel Executive Robert R. Neall, who has made school issues a priority but is not known as an educator's best friend.
Unlike his predecessors, who routinely angered and alienated other leaders who have a say in how our children learn, Mr. Carter is a politician. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It means he knows how to give and take, to listen, to negotiate with those who control the money that will flow into the schools.
Anne Arundel County has finally done right by Mr. Carter. Here's hoping he returns the favor.