Guest Editorial: Khalid Mumin appears a solid choice for state education secretary

Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro announced Jan. 9, that Khalid Mumin will be nominated for secretary of education after Shapiro is inaugurated Jan. 17.
 
A school superintendent who was named Pennsylvania Superintendent of the Year and has experience in both wealthy and poor districts, Mumin appears to be a solid choice. He was one of four finalists for 2021 National Superintendent of the Year.
 
Mumin has been superintendent of the Lower Merion School District, a wealthy white suburban school district, for a little over a year. Before that, he was superintendent for seven years in Reading, a majority Latino district that is one of the state’s largest and poorest districts.
 
At Reading, Mumin won superintendent of the year from the superintendents’ statewide trade association.
 
The state’s education secretary oversees a department that distributes more than $20 billion in federal and state taxpayer dollars, or about one-fifth of all money spent by the state. The vast majority of the money goes to public and private schools, institutions of higher education and pensions.
 
Mumin appears to have the right academic, fiscal and organizational skills needed for the post.
 
In addition to managing diverse school districts, Mumin has experience managing challenging financial and education concerns.
 
When he took the job in Reading, the district was designated as being in financial distress by the Department of Education and as “highly dysfunctional” by the auditor general. The district was in danger of being taken over by the state and suffering from a revolving door of superintendents coming and going.
 
At Reading, Mumin “demonstrated visionary leadership right from the start to get the district back on a positive track and focused on academic growth and support,” said the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators.
 
In a brief statement issued by Shapiro’s transition team, Mumin said he knows what it takes to improve the state’s education system.
 
“I look forward to working with the governor-elect to fully fund our schools, make our students’ mental health a priority and empower parents and guardians to ensure their children receive a quality education,” Mumin said.
 
He’ll come to the post at a time when public school funding in Pennsylvania is under long-overdue scrutiny. Public school funding has been found to be among the nation’s most inequitable institution, particularly for districts with heavy populations of Black and Latino students.
 
Gov. Tom Wolf made fixing this a top issue, and it is the subject of a pending lawsuit in Pennsylvania courts filed by several of the state’s 500 school districts.
 
In addition to more equitable funding, Shapiro and Mumin have the additional challenge of addressing the significant  setbacks in education that occurred during the pandemic.
 

Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune

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