Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Craziness Continues

Many thanks to The Frederick News-Post for keeping the public informed about this one:

Budget negotiators add language to get rid of 'Beg-a-thon'

I wrote about this issue last week.

In a letter from Theresa Alban, President of PSSAM (Public School Superintendents' Association of Maryland) and Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, Dr. Alban accuses the BPW committee of using the time "to advance political agendas." In light of this she suggests that the annual meetings with BPW are redundant and proposes that they be done away with.

It appears that Ms. Alban has friends in high places, as her suggestion has now been inserted as "an amendment eliminating the annual 'Beg-a-thon' before the Maryland Board of Public Works next year." (From the News-Post) I'm just floored by this. While I understand that there has been, in previous administrations, some dubious treatment of superintendents during this process, I don't think this justifies doing away with it altogether.

I'm of the opinion that these meetings allow for greater transparency and accountability. In Howard County the community struggle with our school system over these issues has taken on almost epic proportions. Citizens continue to testify in Annapolis in favor of a bill to ensure meaningful compliance with MPIA requests, yet legislators in Annapolis don't think our Superintendent should need to articulate capital budget priorities in an open meeting.

For heaven's sake, right now Howard County is practically the definition of why these meetings need to be open. We have students and staff who have suffered long term health problems due to mold issues in their schools. All the while those in power denied there was any problem at all and there was no one holding them accountable. The Board of Education, whose mission is to direct the Superintendent, largely abdicated their responsibility to the community.

Clearly this move is bigger than pushback from Howard County or from State Superintendents as a whole. Whatever its motivation, this amendment is bad for the citizens of Maryland. We already have evidence that meetings like this can shine a light on dubious practices and allow citizens to communicate with those in a position of oversight. This year's session alone is reason enough to keep them.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Here is a picture of work being done at Glenwood Middle School over Spring Break. This comes as a surprise to parents as they weren't informed of any of it. And, of course, they've also been informed that there aren't any more issues that need to be fixed. Hmm.



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