The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 19, 2014

Jim Brown Superintendent commitment to Raleigh schools is appreciated

— It is with somberness and regret that we hear of the resignation of Raleigh County Schools Superintendent Jim Brown.

He delivered a brief explanation of his decision to resign effective June 30, citing personal reasons for leaving the job after 19 months.

The decision by the superintendent comes six weeks after voters passed a $22 million continuing levy but rejected a $39.5 million bond that would have funded new schools as well as pay for upgrades to existing schools.

Brown, who lobbied hard for the bond issue, was gracious in defeat, praising voters for their support in continuing the operating levy.

“I think it’s important (to tell) how appreciative and grateful we are that the excess levy was supported,” Brown said at the time.

The failure of the bond issue cannot be laid at Brown’s feet. Rather, we believe it was a reaction to the financial difficulties of families that have been forced to be more frugal in their spending.

Brown’s attempts at improving public education in Raleigh County included his iPad initiative, which brought praise and criticism alike.

Some teachers felt the decision to hand the Apple tablets to every student in the county was a brilliant idea to bring technology directly into the educational process for students in Raleigh County.

Others felt that training and curriculum strategies should have been made clearer before the iPads began showing up in the classroom.

Many students remain excited about the iPad and its potential. Some others may not have made the best use of the new technology.

 We understand other school districts nationally that have experimented with iPads in the classroom have had mixed results on student progress with the tablets.

As with any innovation, particularly involving such a new technology, there is a learning curve on how best to effectively use these tools. We hope Raleigh County educators and students will continue to find ways to optimize the potential of, not just iPads, but other new technologies to improve the educational environment.

Yet technology alone is not the answer to the current problems in public education.

We ask a great deal these days of our superintendents, our principals, our teachers and their support staff at our schools.

In fact, we think that many parents expect our schools and the professionals who serve as educators to do far more than teach. We’re often asking them to solve problems in our families and in our society that are far beyond the scope of education.

We also see parents today who are far too casual in their attitude toward their children’s education, and many who expect the educational process to succeed without their input or even their attention.

Far too many parents today are unrealistic about what they expect from public schools.

These expectations cannot be met without the commitment of parents, administrators and teachers in equal parts.

So we take this chance to say how much we appreciate Jim Brown’s commitment to Raleigh County as superintendent. And we anticipate that he will have many more years in his career to apply his notable skills and talents as an educator.

We wish him the best, and we thank him for his contributions to the schools and to the community in Raleigh County.