There's a countdown ticker running over at the Better Board of Ed website. Right now it reads eleven hours, forty six minutes. When the countdown runs its course a new Board of Education will be sworn in and a new era in the Howard County Schools will begin.
It has been a long, long slog to get to this day. Those engaged in the work of bringing change to the school system might be forgiven for thinking that today is the long-awaited end to the process. Finally, finally, the majority has changed. The 5-2 voting machine has been broken, and the status has shifted.
Finally. It will be time to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
But when the counter runs down and the long wait is over we will be not at the end, but at the beginning. At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious: we haven't yet begun the journey we have set our sights upon. We didn't elect a better Board of Education so we could go back to ignoring what goes on and let someone else take care of it.
No matter how good they are, they will need our help. They need our voices, and our participation. Things like transparency, accountability, and responsiveness are a two-way street. They thrive when there are constituents who are consistently engaged in the process. It's true that we don't have to worry that they'll be so outrageously awful that we need to watch them every minute. But that does not give us a free pass to check out.
Part of electing a better Board of Education was doing the work of making things better. Nice job, Howard County. Now keep doing it.