Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Love Letter to Warren Miller

'Way back in May of 2014 I sent letters to the County Council and the County Executive pleading that they: everything in your power to require that 1) the school system delay the implementation of this {Elementary Model} initiative by at least one full year, 2) the data from Ducketts Lane be shared openly once a full year is completed and 3) the school system follow its own protocol for allowing public community presentations on this initiative and requiring stakeholder input.

To put it in a positive light, I ask you to declare this initiative "worthy of study" and not "ready for prime time."

Right away I heard from my councilman, Calvin Ball, who explained to me that the Council wasn't really permitted to get involved in the affairs of the school system in the way that I had requested. It just wasn't done. I heard from the County Executive, through Candace Dodson Reed, who confirmed what Dr. Ball had said. She also invited me in to discuss my concerns. She was a great listener.

But nothing happened.

In March of 2015 I wrote a post about cuts to paraeducators included in the Superintendent's budget. (I very likely wrote to the County Council, as well.)

This budget must be approved by the County Council and the County Executive. They don't like to meddle in school system matters. I understand that. But what about taking a stand when it comes to supporting the democratic process in Howard County? Does the County Council and County Executive endorse the manner in which budget decisions are being made and constituents are being treated? Do they believe this constitutes the best practices in public service?

I think it is completely appropriate for the citizens of Howard County to ask their elected representatives to address these questions. Does the manner in which the current Board of Education operates serve the public good?

But nothing happened.

Then, this past year, something amazing happened. Parents in Western Howard County reached out to delegate Warren Miller and he did more than listen. He got involved. He began to advocate for their concerns. Once he did that, he had crossed that line over which no one else had wanted to cross. I don't know Mr. Miller, so I can't second guess whether he went there cautiously, reluctantly, or boldly.

But finally, something happened.

Mr. Miller is sponsoring legislation to require the school system to act with more transparency. He has recently written a letter of concern describing conditions at Glenwood Middle School. He is not my state delegate and he is not a member of my chosen political party, but I can tell you that right now Warren Miller has "money in the bank" with me.

This is not to minimize the great work being done by Vanessa Atterbeary and Jon Weinstein on the Board of Education elections bill. But you wouldn't be at all surprised to hear me sing their praises, now would you? (Since everyone knows I'm such a "left-wing" blogger, it seems.) But right now we have public officials of both parties working on improving our school system, and I can't help thinking we owe Mr. Miller some gratitude for being willing to cross that invisible line of non-interference.

There are many political variables at work here. It may be easier for a state delegate to weigh in on this than a member of the County Council. Or Mr. Miller's security in his own district may be so unassailable as to make this course of action less risky for him than it would be for others. Knowledgeable local pundits will be having a beer and discussing the finer points of that for some time to come.

Today I simply want to say thanks to Delegate Miller and all the local officials who are listening, engaging, and taking action. For the first time in a very long time, I feel hopeful about where we're going.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.