Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Well Articulated Position

I missed this yesterday by Eric Hartley, very nicely articulating the anti-incumbent position regarding the Anne Arundel County School Board Farce Retention Elections:

A win for "no" would stun the school system and send a message that people want some changes in a board that's accountable to no one - a fact readily demonstrated by some of its actions.

For example, this is the school board that recently voted in public on a move it actually made behind closed doors nearly two months ago, approving a $5,000 bonus for schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell, which followed his $6,000 bonus last year.

This is also the board that has overseen an astonishing explosion (from 213 to 450) in the number of six-figure school system jobs.

If board members had any fear of voters, they might have thought twice about such raises and bonuses in tough economic times. They might have cared more about how it appeared. But they don't have to.

For a long time, the school board was entirely appointed, its members picked by the governor after public vetting by a "nominating convention." Now, at least, voters have a chance for an up-or-down vote after those appointments, thanks to a 2007 law.

But if voters unthinkingly approve these two appointees, the retention process will serve as only a faint imitation of democracy....

....This year, Ms. Birge was picked and Ms. Johnson was reappointed under a suspect process. Joshua Greene, the politically connected Democratic lawyer who chaired the School Board Nominating Commission, told me the deliberation and vote would be entirely public.

Yet when the time came, the commission deliberated secretly before voting on recommended candidates, from whom the governor picked two. Mr. Greene said he wanted to keep the debate open, but was outvoted by members who thought they could talk more candidly in private.

That's not how public officials should be picked in a democracy.

I'd be hard pressed to write anything better than that. The fact of the matter is that the farce we call an "election" that was thrust upon us by John Leopold and his Democratic allies does not subject either the incumbent Tricia Johnson or unregistered Democratic lobbyist Teresa Milio Birge to the rigors of a real campaign or real scrutiny by the voters. It is merely a way for Annapolis liberal insiders to retain control of the day to day operations of county school boards throw a non-public, non-accountable appointment and retention process. The decision to reward Maxwell's poor performance with a bonus is one of just a number of questionable and downright bad decisions that continually and continuously endanger the educational well-being of Anne Arundel County's children.

Eric Hartley is spot on. We need to send the Anne Arundel County School Board a message on November 4th..



Regualr Schmoe said...

Liberals have children my friends, and when it comes to public education they/ we (those of us with enough money to have the time to pay attention) want to see that our children are in an environment that enriches them--not just the community at large, but OUR OWN children.

We care a lot! we care about the education of our children and see the value in holding public educators to the fire. We value PUBLIC EDUCATION. We do not embrace the idea of surrendering the cause and sending our children to private schools.

We also love to hate management, and wish to make it known that if our kids are failing, MANAGEMENT can and will be the first people that are to be held accountable.

Therefore, as spokesperson for myself and other like minded people, I encourage everyone to vote NO simply to show the Board that we parents pay the taxes, they work for us and we demand performance.

We need to send a message.


*** I am a pro-public education upper-middle class liberal who currently votes democratic and is against indirect public funding of private schools and has a child at Annapolis Middle School in the Middle years Program. I understand the need for parental involvement. (psssssst...I also secretly resent the fact that there are so many ESL students stealing money and energy that otherwise would be used for my child's educational experience).

Gunpowder Chronicler said...

Elected school boards always sound like a great idea, but keep in mind that those elections can be rigged and corrupted just as easily as any other.

There are two other major problems as well. First, in Maryland, the idea of "local control" of schools is really a myth. The State Superintendent has massive power in this area (unless powerful politicians move to block her, like in Baltimore City). As a result, local school boards are really just "rump courts". I am not ready to go whole hog into the elected school board thing yet, but I do think that "reversing" the appointment process would be a nice little experiment. Let the governor nominate-- but the local governments must approve.

The second problem is that the myth of even state control is starting to disappear. Policy follows the money. If school districts want the state and federal money, they have to follow the policy. Since school districts do not possess independent revenue power, they really are at the mercy of the experimentalists and radicals at the Department of Education (and folks like William Ayers).

Until we can break the trough slopping approach to education funding, the school boards are really powerless to make lasting, fundamental change.