Wednesday, March 21, 2018


It wasn’t that many years ago when I took on the role of trying to get people stirred up about the board of education race in Howard County. I must say it took a while for that excitement to truly take hold, but when it did—well, the change was substantial.

This time around I have noted how different the playing field has become. There are now a variety of online forums discussing local school system issues. Former BOE candidate Corey Andrews has created a questionnaire for candidates. Blogger Jason Booms has been writing about the responses. Scott Ewart  has been keeping track of candidate announcements and is providing a space for the questionnaires to be “housed” online.

Thanks, guys.

I’m still working my way through the questionnaires. I’m dealing with my disappointment that I won’t be able to vote for incumbents Cindy Vaillancourt and Bess Altwerger. While I don’t feel that the BOE race is any less important this time around, it is true that I don’t feel the same urgency that I did for the last one.

Want to know why?

I’d like to direct you to results of the audit for the Teachers for Tomorrow Program. It’s just outrageous. Money misallocated, plans approved without being discussed, decisions made without following proper procedures, policies violated. The bad actors involved in this boondoggle are no longer in charge. We are facing major problems with our budget due to their mismanagement, but we now have people in place who are doing their jobs responsibly and with transparency.

That’s a huge change.

Way back when I put myself into the business of asking BOE candidates to respond to a questionnaire, what I wanted to know was quite simple.

Question, "What do you think the job of a Board of Education member is?" Please address the following:
1. What power does the position convey?
2. What is the best use of that power?
3. To whom is the Board of Education member responsible?

When I evaluated candidates in 2016, I was looking for:

 responsiveness, transparency, and accountability

Again, far simpler than Mr. Andrews’ 8-category questionnaire. There’s a reason for that. During those years we were enduring a Superintendent and Board who were ignoring the most basic ethical and behavioral standards of their positions. Bringing about change required finding out who actually was willing and capable of turning that situation around.

I think we have begun to turn that around. We’re at a point where asking the more specific questions is warranted, because we aren’t worrying daily about excluding the public and unknown financial shenanigans. 

I commend Mssrs Andrews, Booms, and Ewart on their timely coverage of the BOE race. I want to assure my readers that I’m not abdicating my responsibility on this. As I read through the candidate’s responses along with the rest of you, a new set of questions are coming together in my mind. I’ll be writing about that soon.

In the mean time, the HoCo Times has a new Education Reporter on the beat. Her name is Kate Queram. Thank goodness for real live journalists. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

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