THIGPEN/Threat to education establishment?
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:00 PM
It is a travesty that a majority of the Senate Education Committee would consider the CEO of one of Mississippi's greatest success stories to be unworthy to serve on the State Board of Education.
Maybe the education establishment is afraid that Bomgar might try to apply the same innovation to the education system that he has to the technology sector. The company he founded and runs, Bomgar, Inc., is the fastest-growing technology company in Mississippi and is among the fastest-growing in the country. With his product being used in 65 countries and by many Fortune 500 companies, he could locate his company anywhere, but Joel has chosen to stay here in Mississippi. He knows the types of skills employers are looking for, and he knows that the vast majority of jobs he offers will be filled by public school graduates.
For some reason, the eight senators who voted against him don't think his perspective is valid on the state board of education.
These senators' stated complaints were these: he was home-schooled as a child, he is considering homeschooling his not-yet-school-age children, he supports charter schools, and he serves on our board of directors here at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.
On that last point, I've seen first-hand how Joel exercises his role as a board member, and I can tell you that his passion for excellence is second to none. He challenges us to focus our attention on what is most important and to measure the results accurately. That is the type of person all of us should want on the state board of education.
Especially since the world of technology both demands and offers new ways of educating children, you would think senators would jump at the chance to have someone from that sector on the state board of education.
The state board is made up of nine people, who each serve nine-year terms. Three spots are reserved for people who work in the education system every day. But six are intended to be filled by people who are not part of the system, so that they can give objective oversight to the Department of Education. Joel's experience, leadership, and insight would be a tremendous asset to the board.
Mississippi needs people like Joel Bomgar who are willing to offer their ideas and their energy to improving our state, including - and perhaps especially - our public education system.
Forest Thigpen is director of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.