Fiona Hyslop has had a hard time. Chastised for every aspect of education which fails to meet a target - from early years and class sizes to teacher numbers and school buildings - it seems sometimes as if the Education Secretary carries the burden of blame for the SNP minority government's shortcomings.
However well-intended the single outcome agreements with the local councils; however powerless the Government to enforce its policies once the reins were handed over; and however unforeseen the impact of the global credit crunch on manifesto pledges - education has suffered more than its share of the effects, with money being sucked into urgent areas like social services. And national leadership has often appeared to be lacking, as we ourselves have said, regarding delays in A Curriculum for Excellence and the continuing professional development required to deliver it.
So it must have been balm to Ms Hyslop's soul to have praise heaped on her so publicly this week by one of Scotland's leading directors of education - and at a leadership conference to boot. Along with Labour's Peter Peacock, one of the best-respected education ministers of recent times, she was applauded by Bruce Robertson, a past president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, for her bravery and for having "delivered" on A Curriculum for Excellence (page 1).
It's never easy to let the reins go and trust in others. But one thing is certain: if ACfE does eventually take off, despite fears it could hit the rocks, and if inspirational leaders do emerge at all levels - it is unlikely that anyone will turn round and congratulate the politicians, of whatever party. Perhaps Mr Robertson should be praised for being bold enough to do so.