Rhodes, who heads the Mississippi Professional Educators, the state's largest teachers' advocacy organization, was a longtime director of accountability and the department's leading expert on financial matters dealing with the Legislature.
She was qualified by experience and knowledge, but she holds a bachelor's degree, not a bachelor's and master's degree, as required, and had not been an administrator for five or more years.
John Jordan, who replaced Rhodes as the interim, is qualified and has been a finalist in previous searches for state superintendent.
The board of trustees now returns its full focus on finding Hank Bounds' successor. Bounds' tenure as state superintendent ends Sunday, after which he will become Mississippi's Commissioner of Higher Education, a position for which he applied and was chosen by the Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning.
Moving forward, we restate our belief that deleting the constrictive requirements would enhance the possibilities of identifying a broader range of fully qualified candidates across many professional and experience tracks.
Mississippi and Arkansas are the only two among 11 Southern states measured by the Mississippi Economic Council staff having teaching/administrative experience and a master's degree requirement. Kentucky and Louisiana require an advanced degree, but have no experience requirement.
Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Oklahoma have no degree requirements or require only a bachelor's degree.
Ten other states - Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Jersey, Virginia, Vermont and Washington - generally regarded as higher-performance states, have no degree requirements, and three states have an experience requirement without a number of years specified. The boards of education and/or appointing governors are given wide latitude in naming the statewide school leader.
Mississippi's consistent struggle measured against national averages suggests that change needs to start at the top.
We repeat our earlier position that some experienced school administrators are fully qualified, but we believe some executive leaders in the private sector also could move our schools forward - if the law allowed it.