The former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools has just achieved former status. He did this by arranging that his daughter, unhappy at the arts magnet high school, should transfer into Wilson, a good high school, rather than into Dunbar, not a particularly good one. This was bound to become known, for even if an organization that large could keep secrets, still one cannot be chancellor of a large school system without making enemies. Once out, it was bound to create resentment. Wilson High School has a waiting list of six hundred students who do not live within its boundaries but would like--whose parents would like them--to attend.
It strikes me that being head of many school districts is much like being the football coach at a lower tier school in a power conference. Not all the good will and all the plans in the world will give Directional State much of a chance to beat Alabama or Auburn. Not all the good will and mission statements in the world will anytime soon turn Desperate High into Boston Latin School or the Bronx High School of Science. Pretty much everyone knows this, but boosters and parents are impatient.
And in both cases, it largely comes down to recruiting. I think that it was Bum Phillips who spoke of Bear Bryant as a coach who "could take his'n and beat your'n or take your'n and beat his'n". There may be some such out there. But Alabama and Ohio State take all measures in their power to have the best their'n to put on the field. And when highly educated professionals move to Fairfax County or Potomac for the school district, that district's success builds on itself.
Still, there are compensations for the coach who goes 3-7 in the Big Ten or the school superintendent who isn't getting the job done. The university or the school board may become impatient and buy out the contract. A co-worker knew a school superintendent who had been bought out a couple of times--not for any particular fault of his own--and had at times enjoyed the salary from his current job along with the salary from his previous one.