June 25, 2009
Back when he was selling a package of school improvements that included a new middle school, magnet schools and most recently an extended school year, Superintendent Del Phillips often invoked a Stephen Covey chestnut: "The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing."
Perhaps no one in public life on the local scene has followed that axiom to the degree Phillips has, and certainly no one has been as successful. The main thing for Phillips has included implementation of a magnet school program in all the elementary schools (done), passage of a bond issue for a new middle school (done with an impressive 80 percent vote of support), building of that new middle school (completion expected for 2010 school year) and implementation of an extended year calendar (approved for two of five elementary schools).
In a word, Phillips'' successes here have been breathtaking.
When he was hired for the Columbus job two years ago, Phillips stated openly he hoped one day to be state superintendent of education, a spot now vacant since Hank Bounds accepted the commissioner of higher education position. In an interview with this newspaper Tuesday, Phillips said he''s considering applying for Bounds'' old job.
We wish he wouldn''t, and we think he shouldn''t. At least not now.
There is little question that Phillips is destined for ... we won''t say bigger things because there is nothing "bigger" than the education of our children ... higher office. He has the personal skills, the energy and the vision to go far. We wouldn''t be surprised to see him one day occupying a corner office in D.C.
But for now, he has unfinished business here. By his vision and, in large part, the sheer force of his personality, Phillips has set in motion a set of ambitious policy changes in addition to the above mentioned innovations. While none of us is irreplaceable, we feel the success of these projects, large and small, is dependent on Phillips'' oversight.
Though circumstances (and implied obligations) were different, we find Phillips'' situation analogous to that of former Columbus Mayor Jeffrey Rupp when he abandoned his elected office in mid-term to join the circus. OK, that was snippy ... when Rupp joined the ill-fated Foglesong administration at Mississippi State University.
We would like to see Phillips stay until the completion and through at least the first year of the middle school under construction. We''d like him to oversee the implementation of the innovative extended school year, and guide its implementation into more schools, if it proves successful. We''d like to see him extend the magnet concept beyond the elementary schools. We''d like to see the continued growth in enthusiasm and support of the city schools.
Stick around, Del, and keep the main thing, the main thing -- bringing these worthwhile undertakings to fruition. Not only will that provide a lasting sense of accomplishment, their completion will make you a formidable candidate for any position.
rupp''s revenge commented at 6/25/2009 6:00:00 PM:
I wonder if the Imes' are getting tired of getting used like rented mules by "cosmopolitan, forward thinking, go getters" (Rupp, and now Del)
This paper got behind this charlatan since day one, and now Columbus is in the poor house on this bond, and 'ol Del's moving on. Yeah this guy is made for DC, that's one thing this paper has gotten right. I say don't think about it Del, pack your bags, and hit Hwy 55 south. See ya!
A reader commented at 6/26/2009 2:48:00 PM:
I'm sure they're simply exhausted, "revenge." (sarcasm) I can assure you that the Imes' are not the only ones that have been supportive of these leaders. Rupp and Phillips both breathed new energy into many aspects of city life. These new efforts would not have happened without a certain amount of forward thinking, cosmopolitan trendiness, and go-getter attitude. Thanks Jeffrey and Del!
rupp''s revenge commented at 6/26/2009 3:55:00 PM:
Yeah they breathed new life. Look at the state of your city government since Rupp left. He was a good mayor, but flew the coop for "greener pastures" at the first opportunity. Del will leave Columbus with a huge debt solely to pad his resume' The Imes backed both of these guys financially, and with the editorial page of the Dispatch. Wake up!!! Thank them for the collective mess they have/will leave Columbus.
Sandra Hooker commented at 6/26/2009 6:56:00 PM:
Why are you all picking on the Imes'? Got to have a dog to kick I guess. I lived in Columbus near six years. My daughter benefited from both public,private, and parochial education in Columbus. I lived in one of the classy renovations in downtown Columbus thanks to Frank Imes and Downtown Properties. When I needed help the Imes helped me and when Frank needed help I helped him. Jeffrey Rupp cared about Columbus these people have given not taken. No matter if Del leaves or stays you all are better off. For employment reasons we left Columbus 10 months ago. We come back often and still have very dear friends to visit We think of Columbus as home. We still contribute to the economy. What some of you are angry about is as clear as black and white. I say thank you to the Imes. The rest of you try giving a little.
1. Possumhaw: All along the river LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Marc Dion: Where I live: Fall River, MA, Home of Lizzie Borden NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Editorial cartoon for 3-25-19 NATIONAL COLUMNS