HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 11) –The person in charge of a government agency exhibits leadership not only by holding himself accountable for its problems and failures, but by doing the same with his employees, particularly those in upper management.

But when parent Jayne Flores called for the retirement of several top Department of Education administrators because she believed they were ineffective leaders and failed to ensure student needs were met during their tenure, Superintendent Juan Flores chose to say that the administrators weren't responsible.

The superintendent said thousands of DOE employees are responsible for the department's problems, and that even "if they do something wrong, they should be given the chance to correct it."

If the person who's supposed to be leading the education department won't hold his management team accountable for the state of the school system, how can the public expect change? If he won't hold them accountable, who will?

Juan Flores' extremely bizarre statements send the all-too-familiar message regarding the government of Guam: That no one's responsible.

That mentality was supposed to have ended at the education department. The people elect a school board and hold the board accountable; the board selects a superintendent and holds him accountable; and the superintendent then holds the department and its management accountable.

If that doesn't happen, then nothing changes -- our schools remain among the worst in the nation and continue to turn out students who can barely read and can't do basic math.

The superintendent is not a political appointee who has to make everyone happy by not rocking the boat. Juan Flores' job is to ensure the public school system provides an adequate education to the island's students. If, in order to accomplish that, he has to push, upset or fire an administrator, then so be it.

He HAS to rock the boat to shake off some of the deadwood that's been sinking Guam's educational ship.

Running the Department of Education is no longer about being a political toady. It's about being a leader and getting the job done. If Juan Flores is uncomfortable doing that, then maybe he should step down, or the board should replace him with someone who isn't.

October 13, 2003

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com


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