What a difference a year makes
Time heals wounds and apparently fixes stupidity.
A year ago, the comedy of Ron White made headlines. A year later, it's the quiet leadership of Marvin Crumbs.
A year ago, Susan Andrews was superintendent of education. A year later, Muscogee County schools don't have a permanent leader.
A year ago, Marvin Crumbs was reassigned to the school district's Department of Academics. Now he's once again the principal of a high school ranked No. 1 in Georgia.
These contrasting events remind us how quickly things change and how a careless decision set off an unlikely chain of events that threatened an educator's career.
Crumbs is the principal at Columbus High, a school that never stops talking about its successes. A former college basketball player, he came up through the ranks to become the school's first African-American administrator.
Last spring, hoping to break the ice at a typically dull faculty meeting, Crumbs slid a Ron White comedy disc in the DVD machine. It caused controversy, not laughs.
White appears with Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. White's the one who slurs his words and balances a whiskey glass in one hand.
On screen was his signature routine: "You Can't Fix Stupid."
A prudish faculty member complained that the video was in bad taste. Showing it wasn't a smart move on Crumbs' part, but Andrews shouldn't have overacted the way she did. She jerked Crumbs out of the schoolhouse and stuck him in a forgotten office on Macon Road. This sent students to the streets and inspired a petition signed by more than 2,000 supporters.
"He did not intend to offend anyone, and his competence and ability for running Columbus High School is incomparable," the petitioner wrote.
Yielding to public pressure and common sense, the school board voted 7-1 in favor of reinstatement. White's reaction was a play on a popular board game. "Crime solved. It was Dr. Crumbs in the faculty room with a Ron White DVD. Charges dropped."
On the day Crumbs returned to Cherokee Avenue, students wore T-shirts that said: "You can't fix stupid, but Crumbs can."
Those events weren't mentioned this week when the Daily Beast -- a website affiliated with Newsweek Magazine -- deemed Columbus High the best public high school in Georgia and included it in its national rankings.
Granted, it's a total magnet that tests its applicants and draws the best of the best. But dealing with such a student body and working with demanding parents isn't easy.
Crumbs does these things without fanfare and without a need to draw attention to himself -- even when he was a punch line in a comedy routine.
That's not stupid. That's leadership.
-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at www.twitter.com/hyattrichard.