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Your humble and slightly fossilized Sun Gazette news team has been around so long that, by our count, most of us have lived through the eras of at least six superintendents of schools in Arlington.
Like J. Edgar Hoover used to do with presidents, we watch ’em come and we watch ’em go, lather-rinse-repeat style.
In the spirt of charity to the latest to hold the post, we wish to introduce new(ish) Arlington Superintendent Francisco Durán to the common-sense philosophy of the late, decidedly underrated president (and Washington Golf & Country Club member) Calvin Coolidge.
It was Cal – a man of few words but one worth listening to when he did speak – who remarked while in the White House that, at any given time, a president can look out over the horizon and (metaphorically speaking) see 100 problems galloping in his direction, vying for attention.
Cal’s advice? Pause, wait and give it time. Eventually, 90 or more of those problems will solve themselves before landing before the president, giving him the opportunity to focus on the big issues – and avoid any “unforced errors” (to toss sports terminology your way) in the process.
The county’s current superintendent of schools did commit an unforced error earlier this month, unilaterally deciding to scrap the winter sports season without getting buy-in from parents, coaches, students in Arlington, or from school leaders in neighboring jurisdictions.
As we figured would be the case – this is not the first time at the rodeo for us, the sclerotic scribes of the Sun Gazette staff – Durán was forced to beat a hasty retreat, rescinding his directive just five days after issuing it.
Now, this does not necessarily mean winter sports will actually occur. Regional leaders might slow-walk the decision-making to an eventual demise, or the governor (who stayed relatively mum before the election but now is back playing god with the lives of Virginians) might weigh in to impose new restrictions statewide.
(That said, we’re wagering that, with semi-comatose Joe Biden safely across the finish line, Democratic politicians and the national media that covers for them eventually, if not immediately, will start creatively using COVID data to push for a return to “normalcy,” a word coined by Coolidge’s predecessor, and fellow Washington Golf member, Warren G. Harding. Time will tell ...)
We don’t know the ins and outs of his thought process, but the end result proved a rookie mistake on the part of Durán, who eventually will come to recognize that the Arlington school system is run not by him, his staff or the School Board, but by activist parents, who usually get their way simply by being noisy and, when pushed, ratcheting up the unpleasantness enough to carry the day.
Like superintendents we have covered who came before, Durán will have to make peace with that reality. So maybe his recent whoopsie-doodle on winter sports, while somewhat emasculating for him in the short term, leadership-wise, will prove to have been a blessing in disguise.