Article from: "Smart? We need him...to the Max." by Barbara
Shelly. Kansas City Star, June 19, 1996
Like everyone else, I've completely missed the
mark on the dream superintendent candidate. All this time, I thought only
Superman could save the Kansas City School District.
But, that's all wrong.
Superman is too classy, too competent, too
high-minded to run the city schools. He wouldn't last six months.
The guy this district really needs is Maxwell
You remember Max. The mumbling star of that
classic television sitcom "Get Smart." If you weren't fortunate
enough to spend your childhood chortling over Smart (a.k.a.Agent 86), look for
reruns on cable.
Smart, a secret agency for an entity called
CONTROL, every week took on the forces of the enemy, an entity called KAOS.
Every week, he prevailed, despite himself.
Agent 86, where are you?
It's not that I think the departure of Acting
Superintendent Larry Ramsey and two of his aides was a pivotal moment in the
Ramsey was out of step with the new school
board. His chances of getting the job on a permanent basis were about as good
as Pat Buchanan's odds of being elected President.
Even worse, Ramsey had skin as thin as phyllo
dough. He was known for blowouts and walkouts. He threatened to walk out of a
meeting with the Star's editorial board because he didn't like the
questions asked of him. School administrators can cite other instances.
Maxwell Smart, now, has a hide as tough as a
Slights and insults sail right over his head. He
has a refreshing absence of ego, which would be oh-so-refreshing for a school
These qualities enabled Smart to conquer KAOS. And
despite School Board President Ed Newsome's insistence that all is well in
Kansas City, the dark forces are very much in evidence.
How else can you explain a system that had two
competing administrators, Ramsey and Ida Lowe, reporting directly to the
school board? KAOS at work.
KAOS has infiltrated the law offices of Arthur
Benson, prompting his strange request to have a three-member committee run the
Nobody knows which schools will be open two years
Nobody knows where the money will come from three
years from now.
Mayor Emanuel Cleaver, for whom 200 rock-throwing
youths constituted a "minicrisis" says the school district has
"Herculean problems." Is he working for KAOS or CONTROL? Nobody's
To restore order, or at least the appearance of
it, the school board needs to hire a superintendent, set an agenda and get
everybody else to shut up for a while.
But, who to hire?
Newsome, who seems to be in a perpetually sunny
disposition these days, says candidates "will be itching to come
here." Well, let's see. The last superintendent was driven to the point
of job-related stress, his replacement had his reputation dragged through a
mud pit, and the replacement for the replacement huffed out last week.
If I were a candidate, I'd scratch that itch with
pumice stone and steer clear of Kansas City.
Not Agent 86, though. This is just the sort of
situation in which he thrives.
The Kansas City school board has no other choice:
A Big Tip O' The Hat to Ryan Schroer for
sending me this! Thanks, Ryan! J