And so it has come to pass that the Howard County School System has lost its way and now functions much like the feudal system of medieval Europe.
Think about it. You remember learning about the feudal system in school, right?
Absolute power is bestowed upon one ruler who wields it with the assurance of divine right. Power is maintained by barons and lords who are the enforcers of the ruler's policies and visions.
It falls to the serfs to do the actual labor. They exist at the level of subsistence and they live in fear of those above them.
At every level there is required obeisance. Everyone owes someone something. One's continued existence depends upon providing the desired goods, service, and loyalty to those at the next level up. Power must be protected. Challenge to the hierarchy must be punished. Those below the ruler are honor-bound to provide the might and muscle to fight off challengers.
It is such a peculiar notion to think that what we have right now in Howard County looks more like lords, vassals, fealty, shield taxes and serfs when what we should have is democracy. The concept of elected representation simply can't co-exist within the confines of feudalism. It violates the carefully crafted system of who has value and who does not, whose job is to toil and whose to reap the rewards.
In the feudal system communication is strictly limited to adjacent entities or within one's own class. In the school system the dissemination of information follows a similar pattern: top-down, one-way. Any other method of sharing information is strongly discouraged. Why? Because controlling information is a powerful tool for maintaining control of people.
See also: increasing monies spent on public relations while cutting materials of instruction, cutting support staff, and increasing class size.
In spite of this, we are on the brink of rejecting the hollow fantasy of a "world class school system" and beginning the task of rebuilding trust with community, parents, teachers, and students. How did this happen?
Information. And parents and community members who were willing to share that information. Social media has been a remarkably useful tool for breaking down walls, gathering consensus, even allowing those who fear retribution to be heard.
Parents from one school can hear the stories of those at another school. Parents, teachers, and support staff become allies. Open sharing of information allows fact-checking and goal setting. In effect, it has given power to those who were powerless.
Information alone is not enough, though, without the sincere desire of people from different groups, on different levels of the power structure, to help each other out and work for a common goal. We will not get a better Board of Education because we owe somebody something who owes somebody over them. That's feudalism.
This is democracy: building a better school system in order that all may benefit. It's time to lay the old order down and take responsibility for what comes next.
Share the information. Build a better Board of Education. Vote.