THE state Board of Education's firing of Superintendent Jorea Marple is an important signal:
Public education reformers are now in charge of the board, and they are not satisfied with the status quo.
West Virginia's school system is mired in top-heavy bureaucracy and student underachievement.
Students rank below the national average in 21 of 24 categories measured by the National Assessment of Education Progress, while the state ranks 8th in education spending relative to income.
A highly publicized independent audit released earlier this year pronounced West Virginia's education system as "one of the most highly regulated systems in the country - if not the most - with many details of school operations spelled out in code."
It's likely the audit was Marple's undoing.
Those dissatisfied with Marple believe she was more interested in protecting the existing condition of the Department of Education than taking seriously the recommendations of the audit.
State school superintendents are used to getting their way. The state board, which operates without a staff, often served as a rubber stamp for whatever the department wanted to do.
But the makeup of the board - and thus the thinking - has changed.
Board President Wade Linger is a strong-willed advocate for reform. He and Marple frequently butted heads behind the scenes as he tried to craft a response to the audit.
I suspect if Marple had been willing to embrace change, as other progressive school systems across the country have done, she would still have a job.