Exhibit J, the proposed legislative platform of the Board, is available here (http://www.bcps.org/board/exhibits/2012/110712ExhibitJ.PDF). The section discussed here is on pp. 19-20, “Local Board Authority.” This statement would make it difficult or impossible for Superintendent Dance to make any further statement about his views on the issue – given that he works for them.
In my view these people should not be spending their time opposing a hybrid or elected board; they should be spending their time on the school system and the children they are supposed to serve. The fact that they are suddenly putting out a two-page statement explaining why they should be appointed says much about the people who are trying to control them.
Given the highly politicized process of the current appointment system, running from the State Senate, through the County Executive, to the Governor, it is ironic to say the least that they consider themselves to be somehow independent of politics: “The current appointment structure allows decisions to be based on what is in the best interests of BCPS students free of political and localized influences.” Indeed, one could argue that spending two pages explaining their opposition to any other system represents how closely linked they are to a County Executive who happens to feel the very same way.
The Board of Education does not make a single point explaining why a Board of a different composition could not be effective. In fact, they admit at the end of the statement that MABE (The Maryland Association of Boards of Education) “does not take any formal position on whether a board should be elected or appointed.” MABE also states that “there is no evidence that demonstrates that either elected boards or appointed boards are more effective or accountable.”
MABE does not take a specific position on how well any individual school board system works – that’s not part of its mission. But a vast majority of the country has decided that elected representation makes a school board better: 94% of the school boards in this country are now partially or fully elected. And thousands of parents, and hundreds of teachers, staff, and children, know very well what a poor job the Board of Education of Baltimore County has done over the last few years with regard to a lack of planning, transparency, accountability, terrible policies on curriculum (AIM), on attempts to keep civic groups out of schools (Rule 1300), and millions of dollars spent on poorly conceived projects that could have gone into better infrastructure.
Please consider contacting your state delegates and state senator, and encourage them to support a hybrid school board in Baltimore County in the next session. The position against a hybrid board, held by certain members of the BCPS administration, and by the County Executive, is not based upon any evidence that appointed boards are better.
Your County Council person also needs to know your opinion – the majority supporting a hybrid school board deserves your support as they stand up against a powerful County Executive.