Anne Arundel County lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle expressed openness Tuesday to changing the selection process for the county’s Board of Education so that at least some of its members are elected.
The remarks, made during a public hearing on the potential for an elected or hybrid board — in which some members are elected and others are appointed — hinted at the possibility that a new approach to the decades-long debate over school board selection might gain traction next legislative session.
“It is time again for us to consider different options and whether another process would better serve Anne Arundel County,” said Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, who chairs the delegation’s education subcommittee.
Exactly what that new process might be remains unclear. While several public officials expressed support for a hybrid board, important details — such as how many members would be elected, who would make appointments and how to keep politics from encroaching on school board decisions — still need to be ironed out.
This is wonderful news for us in Anne Arundel County for whom local control of schools has been a longstanding goal.
What’s interesting about all of this however is the fact that some of the same Democrats who were supporting more centralized state contrl of the nominating process during the General Assembly session are now open to at least a partially elected school board. This is great progress.
The real question that remains, however, is what Speaker Mike Busch will feel about this proposed change. Despite his protestations during about supportng local control after Governor Hogan’s Executive Order on post-Labor Day school starting days, Busch has been a key opponent against local control, prefering to keep the appointment process in control of the Democratic Party and Democratic activists against the will of Anne Arundel County parents, teachers, and taxpayers. Because of that, he has blocked legislation from being sponsored by the Anne Arundel Delegation in the past, lest they be easily passed as part of “local courtesy.” If Busch is shifting his position on this, it would be a significant development.
From issues ranging as far as school start times all of the way to controversial transgender policies, Anne Arundel County parents deserve a voice in selecting who sits on the school board. That even Democrats are starting to see the light on this issue after all of this time gives hope to those of us who have been waging the fight for a long, long time.