Why School Board Elections are important

Two stories are quickly coalescing together in a way that was altogether too predictable.

First, let’s hear about how much of an issue the school curricula are here in Anne Arundel County:

The recent decision by Anne Arundel County schools Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell to turn social studies and science into semester-long courses in middle schools has sparked fierce criticism among parents, students and some teachers who accuse the district of robbing students of a well-rounded curriculum.

The roiling debate in Anne Arundel County reflects a trend in which a fifth of middle schools surveyed in a recent national study say they have sharply cut science, social studies, art, music and physical education in order to double up on math and reading.

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All of which is a very important policy discussion that has a tremendous impact on the life of students, and should engage all citizens, teachers, parents, and taxpayers as part of this discussion.

At the same time, the names and resumes for candidates who have applied for the two vacancies on the Anne Arundel County School Board have been put on the School Board Nomination Commission website which also got its own write-up in the Sun, which talks a little bit about this goofy process:

The commission will hold a public hearing Monday night, where the public can meet the candidates and the commissioners can formally question them. Two weeks later, the commission will hear public testimony on the qualifications of the candidates.

The fact that these stories come together like this is fortuitous because it once again highlights how ridiculous and absurd the new nominating process is. The School Board Nominating Commission is going to hold a meet the candidates night, yet the public has absolutely no real input on who is going to serve on the School Board. The Commission, made up of Martin O’Malley and John Leopold’s liberal donors and friends, are going to nominate to the Governor whomever they damn well please, regardless of the public input. One the candidates go to a retention election in the fall, they will likely remain unchallenged on their records or their qualifications since the voters will not have a true voice in the process and cannot replace them with somebody who better represents their views on education and public spending.

The story about the curricula questions are even further damning of the new and convoluted process. The candidates will not have to defend or promulgate their stances on the curricula issue, or any other issue for that matter, to the public. Under the old process, despite its flaws, candidates still were questioned by the public before a vote was taking of Nominating Convention delegates. Candidates were questioned directly. Under the new process, parents, teachers, and taxpayers may not be able to know or understand the positions of these candidates or their implications for School Board policy until well after they are already serving on the Board of Ed. it is even more of a hopeless situation when you remember the fact that even if a candidate is nominated who is out of touch with their constituents (a likelihood given the O’Malley/Leopold team in place) and turned out by the voters, the liberal Nominating Commission will merely appoint another out of touch replacement.

Issues regarding school curricula are critically important for the future of Anne Arundel County and its children. Unfortunately, what this story really does is highlight merely the seriousness and gravity of our newfangled, highly undemocratic School Board selection process in Anne Arundel County.


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