Tonight our board of education will appoint a new superintendent of schools, Dr. Lorna Lewis, who will take office on July 1. As I have witnessed too many times, the laypeople on the board are filled with excitement, a new superintendent always offering the hope of great future things for the district. So much hope and emotion expended on the hiring of one person who is naively believed, through some arcane power, to be able to unlock the potential of our district for greatness. I suppose their hopes are not completely impossible to achieve, but, having seen such hopes dashed in much better economic times, times in which communities supported their teachers, I’m left to wonder how long this honeymoon will last. That’s not to say I’m not open to being surprised. It’s just that the challenges are so great, and the support to meet those challenges so wanting. We live in a time of the search for magical solutions to our education problems. If only we had a great teacher in front of every class. If we only get the right superintendent. If we only purchase the right program. If we only infuse the curriculum with technology. If we only had a merit pay system to reward the good teachers. If we only had more parental choice as to where we send our children to school. If we just used data to drive our instruction. If…if…if. Until these magician’s tricks are revealed as slights of hand, public education will continue its downward spiral.