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.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Rumour or Fact?

I caught the tail end of a conversation on Facebook that included a tidbit that I wasn't entirely enthusiastic about. The writer said that the Tomato Palace would be closing, to be transformed into a music venue. Have any of you out there heard this?

I must admit that my family prefers the Tomato Palace over Clyde's, possibly because it is more affordable. It's a more family-friendly venue, in my opinion. In addition, it has a more open feel to me. Even after the renovation, Clyde's still feels rather packed-in and scrunched up, somehow. That certainly hasn't affected its popularity, however.

But we don't really go down to the Lakefront all that often. It's a special occasion thing for us. It's where you celebrate a birthday or take folks from out of town. So I don't feel any kind of outrage or betrayal at the thought of change there. A bit disappointed, maybe.

It's true that Columbia doesn't have a music venue like The Hamilton or the Birchmere. Would that bring more people of differing ages to the Lakefront? How would it impact nearby restaurants? And what is going to take up residence upstairs, I wonder, now that the Columbia Association is long gone?

Lots of questions, no answers. But now I'm hungry for Italian food and I haven't even had breakfast yet.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Never, ever take a day off.

There's this thing with me and blogging. If I take even one day off, it becomes incredibly difficult to jump back on again. I don't know why it is that way. I guess that being "in the zone" is a result of keeping the daily discipline.

Yesterday morning I awoke to this view.

My husband treated me to a bed and breakfast getaway for my birthday. We enjoyed the hospitality of the Ship Watch Inn in Chesapeake City. Readers of this blog know that we always go to The Inn at Norwood in Sykesville, but they were booked solid. And so we had the opportunity to try something new.
Chesapeake City grew up around the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. It's really a fascinating little place and we definitely want to go back at a time where we can noodle around and visit local shops and museums. Since I spend most of my time inside the Columbia Bubble I find the contrast of places with older architectural interest to be fascinating. Plus, I've always loved history.

At any rate, as I lay in the most comfortable bed in the world with the softest sheets in the world I was not moved to get up and write. The world was still for a moment. My most pressing decision was when to eat breakfast.
When we were packing up to come home I noticed what had been behind me the whole time we were there.

It's a writing desk. I guess that, no matter where I go, writing finds a way to make itself known.
There's plenty in the hopper for posts this week: politicians and their newsletters, proposals for new construction and how people feel about them, the Board of Education and the African American Community Roundtable, and last, but certainly not least, my write-up of the LWV BOE Candidate Forum.
That should keep me busy.


Sunday, March 27, 2016


Happy Easter, happy Spring.

For the first time in many years, there are no Easter baskets to make. Both of my children are traveling, each on her own adventure. If this is a foretaste of the empty nest, I don't quite know what to make of it.

A co-worker said, when she she learned the age of my children, "Oh, this is such a wonderful time when you can really live through your daughters."

I probably smiled to be polite but I did think it a bit odd. I love my daughters but I've never really planned on living through them. I do have a bit of a life in my own right, after all. Aren't I more than just my role as a mother?

What will I do with myself when our youngest goes to college, moves out, moves away? I see the future coming and it's going to take a supreme leap of faith for me to believe that everything will be alright. How will this journey be different from others I have taken in my life? How do I prepare?

As the weather begins to warm and the neighborhood is bursting into bloom, I'm nursing a full-blown case of self-doubt and tasting a sense of loss. Just a reminder that these years I thought would last forever are drawing to a close. There's a new life ahead.

Maybe I need to get ready.

Friday, March 25, 2016

It's a Free Country

Anyone can write a blog. You can choose one topic, or choose all the topics. It's entirely up to you. Either readers will find you, or they won't. Believe it or not, some people write just to write and don't care if they have an audience. They just have something to say.

As a blog reader in Howard County you are "spoilt for choice" as my Irish inlaws would say. Take a look at the HoCo Blogs page if you don't believe me.

There's one particular blog that continues to make me scratch my head and go, "huh?" It's called Columbia and Howard County Maryland's Future. Basically, the premise of the blog is to narrate the writer's plans for redoing everything in town that he thinks needs redoing. It's kind of amazing in its hubris. In the past he has asserted that the houses where I live should be torn down simply because nobody really wants a house without a garage.

On the other hand, anyone can have a blog. It's a free country. People have poked fun at me for suggesting that the old Patuxent Publishing Building would make a good "extreme home" for HGTV, and I have suggested rather eccentric plans for Wilde Lake Village Center which included a haven for children's birthday parties or a theme park of early Columbia history.

So I'm not saying he doesn't have the right to do this. And yet--

Well, he's back at Oakland Mills again. I've stopped being annoyed by these posts and now I'm largely bemused. Of particular interest in his latest plan is:

The first Apartment building will be located on the grounds of the former Exxon Station with a parking garage (hidden) located on a surface lot for the Meeting House directly behind it. This building will be exclusively for low income Seniors due to its location in the Village Center. The low income Senior Apartments will draw on the aging population of the Village living in older Apartments that lack ADA compliant amenities. The first floor of this building will contain Retail from old pad sites in the Center including; Little Caesar's, Second Chance Saloon, Siam Spice, and the Howard County Police Satellite Office currently housed in a trailer.

There's just one little problem with this. The Exxon site comes with all kinds of environmental issues, I believe. When I was on the OM board we learned about what sorts of uses were allowable, due to the long-term damage to the site from underground leakage while Exxon operated there. I have only a bit of knowledge on this (and that can be a dangerous thing, I admit) but I don't think you can have a residential property there.

Well, maybe you can if you are making it all up and can assume massive remediation to the site. And that would be nifty. While we're doing that could you please throw in Bridge Columbia? (But absolutely no multi-million dollar Sports Complex.) However, I note his plans also include demolishing The Second Chance as an independent location in the Village Center.

Them's fightin' words, Mister. It may be a free country but you can't have my Second Chance.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Buck Stops

What do you do if no one will listen to you? Where do you turn when you feel that no one will advocate on your behalf?

This has been an ongoing problem for parents seeking redress for issues in the Howard County Schools: a lack of accountability. Central Office? Unresponsive. Board of Education? Not interested. County Executive? County Council? "We can't interfere."* When members of the Howard County Delegation began to show an interest, the floodgates opened and many members of the community turned out to have their say.

A high point for parents concerned about the mold at Glenwood Middle School was a Board of Public Works hearing in Annapolis with the Governor, the State Comptroller, among others. While these meetings are scheduled annually to discuss school construction funds, the Governor took the opportunity to express concerns about the unhealthy conditions at the school and the lack of communication with parents. State funds helped to build that school. How is Howard County showing good stewardship of that investment?

As relieved as parents were to learn of this exchange, it appears that some school system superintendents were equally displeased. 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 is an extremely odd letter. Perhaps superintendents are so used to being in charge of others that they chafe at being held accountable to a higher authority? How does one get around the fact that this is the Maryland State School System, and that, ultimately, all superintendents are answerable to Maryland State government when it comes to funding for school construction which is provided by state taxpayers?

It also comes across as a suggestion, "You know that part of my job evaluation that makes me uncomfortable? Yeah, let's skip that." No, these hearings are not job evaluations. But they certainly showcase whether or not a school system is doing its job responsibly when it comes to school buildings. You have to do your homework. And you have to be ready to defend your decisions and choices.

A few days later comes a blisteringly thorough response to Dr. Alban's letter from the office of Comptroller Peter Franchot. Written by Len Foxwell, Franchot's Chief of Staff, it addresses all of the issues raised in the letter, and more. In particular, he finds it odd that Dr. Alban takes issue with these hearings as she was not even present when they occurred.

After dealing with each objection, point by point, Foxwell sums up his response as follows:

In the absence of any merit, whatsoever, to your claims that the Board members used the IAC appeals meeting as a platform for inappropriate subjects, one can only conclude that your true objective, and that of your colleagues, is to solicit and receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars each year without the inconvenience of actually having to explain your request in a public forum.

Mic drop.

So it appears that there is someplace in the State of Maryland where the buck stops. And not everyone is happy about that.





*To be fair, we are now beginning to see some action from County leadership on the mold issue in our schools.








Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Stumbling Block

Once upon a time, Board of Ed member Cynthia Vaillancourt was concerned that the Giant in Hickory Ridge was 'carding' for condom purchases and she mentioned it in passing during a dinner between Board sessions. Remember that?

And her fellow Board member Ellen Giles thought that was The End of the World. Vaillancourt must be chastised. She must be censured. She must undergo remedial sexual harassment training. Ms. Giles was so adamant that she even wrote the newspaper about it.

Recently Board member Ann Delacy sent out a fundraising email to over twenty-five people using their Howard County School System emails, including the Superintendent, and Ellen Giles thought that was just fine.* In fact, she thought it was just fine right up until she got a letter from State Senator Gail Bates looking into the matter as a possible ethics violation.

Even then, Ms. Giles did nothing more than say she would ask the school system's ethics panel about it. That's it.

Recently I have read some glowing accounts of Ms. Giles that praise her for her intelligence, experience, and hard work. I don't doubt any of that. What I doubt is whether her actual job performance as a member of the Howard County School System qualifies her for re-election. When someone uses a position of power to create scandal for one person when none actually exists, and then virtually ignores a scandal which just about hits her in the face, well, that's a problem for me.

A stumbling block.

I've talked quite a bit about responsiveness, transparency, and accountability in the Board of Education race. You know what else is needed?

Good judgement.






*How do I know? She was asked about it.




Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Concentric Circles

Starting with the smallest:

  • I told my daughter it was thirty degrees out and she still left the house in that thin faux-leather jacket and no hat.

Slightly larger:

  • Someone has abandoned a car with no plates in our parking lot but the police won't do anything because technically our parking lot is private property. Next step, HOA.

Expanding outward:

  • Milkweed is being released in Oakland Mills. (See why here.)

Still wider:

  • The Still Point appears to have closed its Clarksville location to consolidate with the CA Haven on the Lake operation.

And bigger:

  • Bill Woodcock has a sock puppet with a split personality and he's being a really good sport about it. Since it is someone who clearly hopes to influence the opinions of voters in the HoCoBOE race, I'm not amused.

One more:

  • Folks turned out to a County Council hearing last night to support a bicycle master plan (among other things.)

Some days the news can be as small as the weather or your parking lot. But for every small story is one bigger, and one bigger still, like ripples expanding on the surface of a pond.

I awoke this morning to the news from Belgium and all I could think was, "someone in my family is getting on an airplane this weekend." It's a huge tragedy, so much bigger than my frame of reference, and it's a story about other people's suffering and loss. But the first thing I did was reframe it with myself at the center.

That's only human, I guess. We see a circle and we want to put ourselves at the center of it.







Monday, March 21, 2016

Super Stuff

My sister had a friend whose father worked for WHAM-O, the toy company famous for marketing the Hula Hoop and the Super Ball. They were developing a new product and he gave out samples to some of his daughter's friends. That's how we got to try Super Stuff.

It was kind of like Silly Putty, kind of like Play Doh, but actually unlike any of those things. It was, if one can coin the term, "flubberish". You had to mix it up at home and store it in the fridge. It was hot pink, squishy, and it smelled positively vile. I don't know what was in it but I wonder now if it was truly non-toxic. So many of those "cool" toys from my childhood turned out to be suspect in the safety department.


Super Stuff is on my mind this morning as I am looking over the topic of artificial turf fields in our community. I remember when putting them in at the high schools was all the rage, and we seemed to be in a terrible rush to do so. Now I am reading much of the turf in Howard County contains something called "crumb rubber infill", and that we should be very concerned about that.

I am just at the beginning of researching this. I must admit that I don't want to believe that we could have rushed to install something which could pose health risks to our kids. But, I didn't want to believe that the school system would deliberately hide illness-inducing mold problems from parents, either.

And look how that turned out.

There's a bill being introduced in the state legislature (for the third time) which would require "the owner or operator of a facility with a synthetic infill turf field to post a specified sign in a conspicuous location informing individuals using the field of specified health and safety recommendations of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene."

What do you know about this? Do you have any personal experience? Is concern about artificial turf justified, in your opinion?

It doesn't seem that long ago that artificial turf was the cool, new thing. Like Super Stuff. The difference is, Super Stuff didn't last all that long and pretty soon you had to throw it out. Artificial turf hangs around for a long time.*

Is that what we really want?




*And yet, after 8-10 years, it must be completely replaced, and that's really expensive.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


I haven't talked about it that much, but for about five months there I wasn't working and I had pretty much convinced myself that I didn't ever want to go back to work again. I was enjoying being caught up with the housework (mostly), cooking dinners, packing lunches, grocery shopping, having enough time to write and keep up with social media. Much of that may sound dreary, but after years of working and trying to juggle those things I found it delightfully restful.

On the other hand, I spent altogether too much time sitting in a comfy chair and not enough time interacting with real people. I may have done the couch potato thing a bit too much.

Being the stay-at-home mom for the first time in my life was a wonderful experience. I probably could have done more with it--volunteer work? exercise?--but it was what it was. And what it was, was temporary. I needed to get back to work. I never really stopped looking for jobs, and one day a job turned up. Just like that.

I'm fearful of over-sharing because I don't want to jinx it. So I'll just say I'm back working with kids again in a wonderful place. I went back to work March 1st and I've been sick pretty much since March 4th. That's what working with kids does to you. Hopefully my immune system will shape up in the near future.

I promised myself I would go to yesterday's Board of Education candidate event put on by the League of Women Voters, and then do a write-up. Instead, I was asleep in an armchair. Apparently my plans for yesterday were reading, sleeping, and drinking tons of fluids. You have to seize those sick days when they present themselves, I guess.

All of this is to say I missed the event. I am going to watch a rebroadcast and write it up in the near future. In the meantime, here are two pieces about hcpss worth reading:

"My Questions for the Howard County Board of Education", Tom Coale, HoCo Rising.

"Howard school board member defends use of staff email addresses for fundraising" , Lisa Philip, Howard County Times.


Saturday, March 19, 2016


Facebook memories reminded me of this March, 2013 letter by former CA Rep from Dorsey's Search Tom Coale. The paper gave the letter this heading, "Trust will work with CA, but remain independent." In his letter about the creation of the Inner Arbor Trust, Coale states:

Predictably, opponents of the plan, having failed to convince the community on substance, are attempting to reverse course based on lies, scare tactics and empty critiques of process that have proven elusive to satisfaction or remedy.

It is now March, 2016 and opponents of the plan are still trying to destroy it. (See "Gossip Guys".) Of note is this sentence in CA Rep (Harper's Choice) Alan Klein's candidate statement:

Returning Symphony Woods to CA control is a top priority

Control, control, control. Mr. Klein and his friends appear to be engaged in a battle to the death that has little to do with representing real Columbians or advocating for Columbia's future. It's all about control.

On the other hand, the good news in Harper's Choice is that residents actually do have a choice this year, as Bob Fontaine has thrown his hat in the ring to challenge Mr. Klein. From Mr. Fontaine's candidate statement:

Columbia’s long-term needs must be addressed pragmatically. We can and should embrace the town’s history and values while recognizing that the times and our economy have changed. Yesterday’s solutions will not work today or tomorrow.

I have known Bob Fontaine for a number of years and I'm happy to say he is an ideal candidate for this position. He has deep roots in the community, he is highly knowledgeable of the issues, and he works collaboratively and respectfully with others. He's open-minded, thoughtful, and thorough.

This will be an important race. If you live in Harper's Choice, or have friends and/or family who do, please tell them to get involved and vote. Poor turnout has plagued CA elections for years and the lack of constituent involvement has allowed candidates with backward-thinking views to dominate.

Columbia was never meant to be a backward-thinking place.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Taking Off the Masks

A recent story you may have missed concerns whooping cranes and conservation methods. ("Patuxent refuge changes course in project to restore rare whooping cranes", Tim Prudente, Baltimore Sun) The article outlines the results of a long-term investment in specialized methods for hand-rearing the endangered bird.

For 15 years, staff at the Patuxent Research Refuge near Laurel took an unusual approach to raising endangered whooping cranes: They dressed in crane costumes to teach the chicks to eat like cranes and to drink like cranes. It was elaborate theater to save a species at the brink of extinction.

It didn't work. The upshot was that the cranes did not flourish as a result of this highly specialized program of care. Hundreds of cranes were lost. Despite their best and well-intentioned efforts, researchers looking honestly at the consequences of their own actions had to admit something was wrong. They are scientists, after all. The evidence of abandoned nests, unhatched eggs, and dying chicks were right in front of them.

They decided that Mother Nature knew something that they, somehow, did not. And they have decided to focus on more natural and less interfering methods of conservation for the whooping crane.

For some reason this story made me think of the current situation with our school system. (Yes, I know, what doesn't make me think of the school system?) We have had certain individuals who are charged with caring for children, supporting teachers, and working collaboratively with parents, and on the surface they have appeared to be undertaking the work of doing just that.

Yet over time the evidence is mounting that something is deeply wrong. Testing time increases. Arts education decreases. Direct support to students in the classroom is cut. Teachers' morale is abysmal. Parents feel disrespected and disenfranchised. Our treatment of special education students and African-American students shows frightening inequity. Victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and assault often feel voiceless.

Yet our leaders persist in doing the same things over and over: engaging in the elaborate theater of running a " world-class school system" even when the results of their own actions litter the landscape all around them. Video from a recent exchange between Superintendent Reneé Foose and Councilwoman Jen Terrasa makes this abundantly clear.

I have deep respect for the conservationists who took a hard look at their work and were honest enough to admit they had failed. Here in Howard County, we are long overdue for that kind of honesty and professional integrity.

It's time to take off the costumes and stop faking it.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Key Ingredients

You may have seen the news that the cast of the Broadway show Hamilton traveled to DC this week to perform for students in the White House. This tweet from Michele Norris caught my eye:

Why @HamiltonMusical trip to WH was SO important. Simply put Arts Education matters. So there.

She links to this Huffington Post article by Katherine Brooks, "Why The 'Hamilton' Cast's Trip To The WH Was So Important".

"But the really revolutionary part of Miranda and his dapper blue suit making waves in the the White House Cabinet Room? The fact that Obama's administration was honoring the importance of the arts -- and arts education -- in such a momentous and public way."

It isn't the first time. In hosting the Turnaround Arts program, President Obama said,

"The arts are central to who we are as a people, and they are central to the success of our kids. This is not an afterthought," he said. "This is not something you do because it's kind of nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts."

The play's the thing. And not just this kind of play, but play itself. Take a look at this article by Lucy Ward about the role of play in the education of young children. (The Guardian) Entitled "Children Should Learn Mainly Through Play Until Age of Eight, Says Lego", it highlights a move in England to value play as a mode of learning. Lest you think from the title that it's all about selling more Lego bricks, it isn't. My favorite quote:

If parents and governments push children towards numeracy and literacy earlier and earlier, it means they miss out on the early play-based learning that helps to develop creativity, problem-solving and empathy, she says.

Creativity, problem-solving, and empathy. These are key ingredients in any field of study, in any career, in any life. This does not mean that play-based learning or arts education are necessarily superior to everything else out there, but it does mean they are necessary components that make all other kinds of learning function better. We reduce and/or eliminate them at our peril.

Consider our current political situation. Imagine what it would be like if we, as a nation, had been making a long-term investment in creativity, problem-solving, and empathy. Mind-boggling, isn't it?


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Face Value

So Hillary Clinton is doing brilliantly in the primaries but male commentators are falling all over themselves telling her to smile.

Oh. My. Word.

Enough with telling women to smile. "Look pleasant. Don't shout. Don't be so abrasive. You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."


Women are asked to smile because smiling makes other people comfortable. And that's what women are supposed to do, right? Make other people comfortable. Any time we are not doing that, something must be wrong. Because making other people feel good is the prime directive of the female.

Don't agree? Neither do I.

Anthropologists studying the evolution of the smile from primates to humans have found that a smile can have multiple meanings. In fact, a smile signals different kinds of submission. In chimpanzees there is a "fear face" which is used by the weaker chimp to signal acknowledgement of the other's dominance. And there is a "play face" that says, "I am not a threat. Look, I am just playful!"

Smile, honey. Why don't you just smile? You'd look so pretty if you'd just smile.

Most women knows what happens if you don't smile.

Alright, be that way, bitch.

And it all comes down to that. Either you smile, or you're a bitch.

That's a very small world for women to live in. I'm amazed we even get out of bed in the morning, much less run for president. It is long past time for women to be allowed the full range of human emotions along with the accompanying facial expressions. Our faces should not be some kind of litmus test for acceptable success.

Acceptable success: what our society will allow women to achieve. Those words send a creepy shiver right through me. I have two daughters and the world I will leave them is nowhere near as equal as I thought it would be. It's 2016, a woman is successfully navigating a run for the presidency of the United States and all we can say is:

Smile, baby. Why don't you just smile?






Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Election Day is more than a month away but we already have such a clear front-runner that I wanted to take a moment to give her some recognition. Without a doubt, Dr. Janet Siddiqui is the overall leader in illegally-placed campaign signs. No one else even comes close.

Let's give Dr. Siddiqui her due. To be a leader in illegally-placed signs takes more than just having lots of money and being extremely well-connected. It takes dedication and hard work. Above all, it takes a complete disregard of Howard County election laws. Having been on the Board of Education for as long as she has, it must be difficult to feign ignorance of the law, year after year.

Political signs have to be (minimum) 15 feet from the curb and 100 feet from a corner intersection. There are also limits to the total number of square feet of signage an individual property can display.

So, that whole row of signs strategically lined up across from the Board of Education building on Route 108? The majority of those are illegally placed, too close to the road. The sign which is almost directly on River Hill High School property, giving the appearance that the candidate has been endorsed by the school? Illegal. And that one was removed by the school after community complaints and then inexplicably replaced by the candidate's campaign.

That's determination, all right.

Perhaps there's a comfortable sense of easy inevitability that comes with being an incumbent in this race. Dr. Siddiqui, with widespread local name recognition and an ample campaign war chest, may think that this election will be no different than the others that have come before it. I'm not so sure. If ever a campaign had "anti-incumbent" written all over it, it would be this one.

What kind of a message does it send for a candidate to ignore the most basic regulations for political campaigning? Does it say "responsive" to you? Does it speak to integrity or accountability? I think not. It clearly says, "the rules don't apply to me." Winning the campaign sign wars by breaking all the rules may not be a slap in the face to every Howard County voter, but it's definitely a poke in the eye.

I don't much like it.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Java Jive

It feels like a good morning for extra coffee.

If you are feeling the time change the way we are over at my house, you could probably use some. So here's a recent HoCo Times article by Tony Glaros which takes in some HoCo local coffee shops. Have you been to all of them? Are there some you feel should have made the list? ("Finding space in Howard County's smaller coffee shops", March 10th)

I've never been to Ruthie's or Casual Gourmet. Not my neck of the woods, I guess. And I notice they didn't include Riverside, a place near to me. Although, I haven't been there for a long time. I don't really know how it's doing these days.

Why not? Well, because when I go for coffee these days, I usually go to Starbucks.

(Insert squeamish feeling of corporate sell-out here.)

I'd much rather be supporting a local business, so why don't I? Is it because I want the reassurance that comes from the uniformity of the Starbucks brand? I know what to expect, no surprises. Have I really reached that stage of my life? I just don't want any surprises?

I think it's time to challenge myself on this one.

There's an empty space next to the Oakland Mills Food Lion which has been available for a long time. It would be so great for a mom and pop coffee place to open up there. I promise you I would absolutely choose that over Starbucks every time. Years ago we had a place called the Blue Cow in Thunder Hill and it is still missed.

How cool would it be to hang out in my own neighborhood and connect with folks from the Village? It would be awesome.

Where do you go for coffee, and why? What keeps you coming back?




Sunday, March 13, 2016


In the Fall of 1967 Carl Stokes was running for Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. In November, when he was elected, he was the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city. In the suburb of Cleveland Heights, where I was in the third grade at Fairfax Elementary School, that election might as well have been a million miles away. There were no children of color in my class. I'm not sure there were any in the entire school.

I grew up in an old, solid neighborhood with old trees, old slate sidewalks, and center-hall Colonial single family houses with the garage out back. Dads went to work. Moms stayed home. Children roller-skated, pulled wagons, rode bikes, played ball, drew with chalk on the driveways and turned the rope for hours of jump-rope rhymes.

Down in the valley where the green grass grows, there sat Jenny as sweet as a rose, she sang, she sang, she sang so sweet, along came Johnny and kissed her on the cheek. How many kisses did he give? One, two, three, four...

Something happened in the third grade that changed my world. It wasn't a very big thing, but it opened up a tiny crack in the way I had always seen things and made me realize that my world wasn't the only one.

On the annual Fall field trip to the farm, the third grade from my school was paired up with the third grade from a school in inner city Cleveland. Each child from the one school was partnered up from a child in the other. It was a life changing experience. We had never seen so many black children. They had never seen so many white children.

The teachers were working overtime, I am sure, just dealing with the excitement of a bunch of kids trying to figure eachother out. I remember feeling shy, shrinking back from the boisterous energy and loudness on the school bus. When we got to the farm our focus was turned away from ourselves and we were just a bunch of kids at the farm.

Except there were those little differences. The inner city children felt much more intimidated by the farm environment, and they were much more concerned about getting dirty than we were. Our world assumed orderly bus rides and frequent field trips and mothers who were always on call to clean us up if we got dirty. A loudly quacking duck was funny to us, to our new friends, it was an unfamiliar threat.

I don't remember the name of the little girl who was paired up with me, but I do remember the moment that the little knot of fear inside me melted. She asked if she could touch my hair. (It was very blonde in those days.) She had never seen hair like mine, ever, and she just wanted to know what it felt like. Something about that was so humanizing to me. I knew what it was like to just want to touch something; so much of childhood is just wanting to touch things to find out what they are.

On the way back to school our new friends taught us a jumprope rhyme that we thought was naughty and hilarious. I think it raised a few eyebrows when we got back home. But it has stuck with me all these years, a souvenir from a world-changing trip.

Cinderella, dressed in yella, went downtown to see her fella. On the bus her girdle busted. How many people were disgusted? One, two, three, four...

As we examine ways to address diversity in our schools in Howard County, I'd like to suggest that it isn't a highly-paid Central Office position that will bring meaningful change, but time. We need to show we value moments of connection and exploration by allowing our teachers and staff the time to create and foster them.


Saturday, March 12, 2016


I just finished up my meds for bronchitis and influenza, and this morning I have a sore throat that feels like strep. This can only mean one thing: I'm working with kids again. Working with children, especially young ones, is definitely a challenge to the immune system. Clearly mine has gone a bit soft after some time out of the classroom.

Perhaps I'm just a bit addled by illness, but I'm thinking this morning about how our Board of Education has operated in the past as though sealed off from public thought like the boy in the plastic bubble. I'm not quite sure how it got to be that way. But somehow, over time, some members of the board got the impression that they could make decisions that deeply affect the community without truly engaging with the community itself.


What happens when a governing body does not feel the stress of reducing support staff in kindergarten classrooms? What happens when they do not feel the betrayal of special education parents whose only goal is appropriate services for their child? What happens when they are content to accept charts and graphs and prepackaged reports instead of interacting with real human beings?

We know what happens. It is happening right now. We see the evidence in a contract renewal ceremony in which the public was essentially locked out.


In recent years the Board has transformed into a lofty, protected entity, set apart from the community it was meant to serve. Interacting with real human beings is messy and time-consuming, and there's a real danger that you may become infected with independent thought. Once that happens, there's no telling what will come next.

Wilde Lake alum Danny Mackey brought some of that to Thursday's BOE meeting. As soon as I have a decent video link for that I will share it. I hope his forthrightness will encourage others. If the Board has ceased to represent the community, then the community has the right to represent itself.

Coming face to face with the constituents they were elected to serve just might provide a jolt to their carefully cultivated immune system.


Friday, March 11, 2016


A roundup of things to read and do.

"This Is Sooooo Old" by Heather Kirk-Davidoff on "Hamilton" and modern-day political turmoil. Grounded and Rooted in Love

"Seven Months, Twenty-Three Days Done" by Lisa Marini Schlossnagle about the unexpected conclusion of a round-the-world voyage. Schlossini Voyage (Then go back to the beginning and read the whole thing.)

"Howard County School Board election seen as way forward" by Lisa Philip recapping Tuesday night's BOE candidate forum. Howard County Times.

"Bovine Based Wisdom" by Jason Booms, and you just have to read it for yourself. I had to read it a few times for the entire meaning to sink in, and then it left me with a very good feeling. Closest thing to a gentle homily I've read recently. Spartan Considerations.

Eat soup.

Take the survey.

And a hat tip to the old Friday Links, Tom Coale, HoCoRising. I tried to find one quintessential example but just got sucked in reading old posts. You should, too. So good.

Last, but not least, this courtesy copy I received from BOE Chair Christine O'Connor letting me know that my nominee, Vicky Cutromeo, did not receive the Friend of Education Award. As we know, it's an honor just to be nominated, so Ms. Cutromeo has been invited to attend the reception where the award will be presented. To someone else. I wonder if she will actually be allowed to get in the room.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Let's Get Moving

I saw a reminder yesterday from Councilwoman Jenn Terrasa to complete the County Transportation Survey. Then I received an alert from the the friendly folks at Bridge Columbia. Clearly the writing is on the wall: take the survey.

The deadline is Friday, March 11th, at 5 pm. Here's the link:

I have an extremely early appointment today, so instead of a blog post, I'm inviting you to voice your opinions about transportation priorities in HoCo. When you're done, enjoy an extra cup of coffee, talk amongst yourselves.

I'll be back tomorrow.


P.S. I'm a big fan of Bridge Columbia.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What's On Your List?

You may recall that in the last Board of Education race, I asked the candidates to answer the following question:

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?

One of the candidates who scored high marks on this was Bess Altwerger, who was subsequently elected to the board. Last night she posted some personal opinions on what she looks for (as an individual citizen) in a board of education candidate. They were so good that I asked to share them here.


Here's my personal list for supporting candidates:

1. You believe that a quality public school system is dependent upon a diverse, well-prepared, well-supported and fairly compensated teaching force.

2. You will not support public tax dollars going to private charter management companies or vouchers for private schools in our county.

3. You support policies and procedures that will ensure a safe, healthy environment for every child and adult in every county school,

4. You support the goal of establishing school capacities, class sizes and teacher supports that will optimize learning and teaching.

5. You believe in providing an equitable education for all children, with greater support for greater need. Note: Equitable is not the same as equal.

6. You believe in providing inspiring, challenging and developmentally appropriate curriculum that best meets the needs of diverse students.

7. You do not support high stakes testing, test-driven instruction and test-based teacher evaluation.

8. You strongly support a democratic, transparent and inclusive school system that encourages and responds to community input.

9. You believe that children with special needs have a right to the best possible education with appropriate levels of support, teachers who are not overworked, and parents who are involved and respected.

10. You value and support racial and economic diversity in our schools and will not tolerate expressions or acts of racial, ethnic or religious bigotry by students or employees.

11. Work to reduce and eliminate disparities in school suspension rates and support "restorative justice practices" that address underlying reasons for negative behaviors.

I probably left out some things that I'll add later, but I can personally support any candidates of any party or political affiliation who can sincerely say "YES" to all of the above. Approaches, strategies and details are ALWAYS open for respectful discussion, debate and negotiation!


Howard County Parent and education advocate Leslie Kornreich added one more item which harkens back to my original question in 2014:

I would add that Board candidates should understand that they are the superintendent's EMPLOYER and not the other way around.

There was a candidate forum last night sponsored by the Ellicott City and Western Howard County Democratic Club. If you weren't able to attend you can find some excellent live-tweeting by @courtneywatson1 and @beau1u . And there are plenty more forums coming up. So commit to coming out for one. Get educated!

  • March 16th, Wednesday 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Townhall (by Pravin Ponnuri) for all challengers at Linden Hall, Dorsey Search Village Center
  • March 19, Saturday from 1-5 p.m. League of Women Voter's forum @ Banneker Room in the George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, 21043
  • April 5, Tuesday @ 6:30 pm by Southern Howard County Civic Association, Inc @ North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, North Laurel, Md. 20723
  • April 6, Wednesday 7:00 PM Candidate's forum by Mount Hebron-Orchards Community Association at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church.
  • April 9th Saturday 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM (Tentative) Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club (TMDC) of Howard forum
  • April 11th, Monday from 7 -9 pm special education focused BOE candidates forum at the Howard County Community College, Duncan Hall building, DH 100 - Kittleman multi-purpose room.







Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hall of Fame

Today is International Women's Day. This Thursday the Howard County Commission for Women will add the 2016 honorees to their Hall of Fame. The ceremony is Thursday evening at 7:30 pm in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building. The public is invited, and there will be a reception following. The women entering the Hall of Fame this year are:

  • Mae Beale
  • Mamie Perkins
  • M. Shirlene Bauman*
  • Frances Louise Brown*
  • Ruth Davis Brown*

This is a truly inspiring event. I went last year, but am unable to go this year due to a prior commitment. I encourage you to attend if you are able. You can follow the Howard County Commission for Women by liking their page on Facebook.

This year I thought I'd observe the day by submitting my list of amazingly awesome Howard County women. No one has asked me to do this, and no one has had any input into my choices. I am purposely excluding anyone who is running for public office right this minute, because I don't want this list to be about political aspirations. It's just my list, and today, these women are on it.

  • Mary Kate Murray--a champion of the revitalization in Oakland Mills, an all-around community-builder and now a champion of Conscious/Attachment Parenting.
  • Candace Dodson Reed--AVP for Communications and Public Affairs, UMBC, also Founder and President of the African American Community Round Table.
  • Ann Faust, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Baby and Me Lactation Services, also active PTA member, education activist, and all-around good neighbor.
  • Jennifer Terrasa, County Councilwoman for Disctrict 3, lawyer, teacher, listener and thinker.
  • Cindy Vaillancourt, Howard County Board of Education, advocate for transparency, responsiveness and accountability in the Howard County Public School System.

I should add that there are a few women I'd love to put here who'd be embarrassed to be singled out, but that is the only reason for their omission. So, if you're shy...that probably means you.

Who is on your list? Why? Let me know.



*awarded posthumously


Monday, March 7, 2016

Fear in HoCo

Seen this morning on Twitter:

Never understood why people waste energy trying to block others happiness, when it takes less energy to find your own. -- Kwame Rose

My response:

I think it comes from fear.

Of course, my answer wasn't the only one.

#SomePeople (unknowingly?) treat happiness as #ZeroSumEquation -i.e.- if u have some, then I have less. #False. -- politicur

Rose's response:

I think it's knowingly in most cases. People do things out of spite, and jealousy.

In truth, I think the answer is found in all three responses. Some people act out of fear, fear that they are losing something. Some people do, knowingly, act out of spite and jealousy. (Wait--doesn't jealousy take us back to fear?)

I bring this up today because I witnessed a conversation on Facebook last night where it seemed that someone was making a deliberate attempt to stir up fear and discord between local Democrats and Republicans. Yes, I know there's plenty of that to go around on any given day. But right now there's a spirit of detente surrounding the issue of improving the County Schools and I'd like to see it continue.

It's also possible that what I saw was just one person bumbling along without thinking about anything. There's a lot of that on social media. But watching the conversation unfold made me uneasy. As I suggested last night:

If someone can get us to start fearing eachother instead of truly focusing on the Board of Ed, then we all lose and the incumbents win.

I realize I have strayed from the original quote about blocking happiness.

This is really all about fear. Fear of those who are different. Fear that those people may wish us ill. Fear of bad things happening. Fear of being overpowered or overwhelmed. It is going to take a powerful amount of focus, self-discipline, and--like it or not--trust to get better candidates elected to the Board of Education.

Actually, if we let fear win this one, we'll be blocking our own happiness, and that of our children.

One last quote:

We ruin things, by looking for a reason not to believe that it's actually happening. -- Kwame Rose

Working together for a common goal, despite our differences: that's what is actually happening. Right now. In Howard County.

Don't let fear ruin it.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Strangely Relevant

Taking a sick day. I see steroids in my future. So here's a blast from the past, written in March of 2014 as the Board of Education race was was getting underway. Reading it this morning made me realize how relevant it still is today.



What is this race about?

It is about transparency. Inclusion of stakeholders. Respect for the administrators, teaching professionals, staff, parents, and students that make up our school system. The reason we have an elected board of education is to ensure that the community's voice is heard. If our elected officials abdicate their responsibility to be fully informed and fully involved, then we have a Superintendent and Central Office Staff with absolute power.

You know what they say about absolute power.

Oh, I have heard the arguments about micromanaging, and I'm not buying them. The Board of Education is to direct the Superintendent, not the other way around. If you want to see micromanagement, a great place to look would be the CA board. I remember attending a meeting early on in Phil Nelson's tenure where they had him sitting at a little table by himself, as though he were a bad child in the Time-Out Chair. He never got to speak one word for the entire meeting. That is micromanagement, and it can be pretty scary.

I think we have a loooong way to go before we are in danger of anything even remotely close to that on the Board of Education. In our American way of thinking, systems like this should have checks and balances to preserve a balance of power. Our elected members of the Board of Education should be our advocates. If all the power is generated top-down, then our democratic system is thwarted.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the community felt downright disgusted by drama, disagreements and infighting on the school board. It seemed that having a school board that could achieve the appearance of professional courtesy was the most progress anyone could hope for. But if the appearance of outward civility is masking suppression of opinion, disregard of parents, and intimidation of teachers and administrators, then what progress have we really made?

We shouldn't, of course, hire a superintendent and then not allow him or her to do the job. But we also shouldn't elect Board of Education members and not expect them to do theirs. So as the election season gathers momentum, I am asking the biggest question: what do they think that job is?


Two upcoming events for pursuing the answer to that question:

Today, March 6, at 4:00 PM, Glory Days Grill. Campaign Kick-Off event for Vicky Cutroneo and Christina Delmont-Small.

Wednesday, March 9, 5 pm, Coho Grill, Campaign Kick-Off event for Mavis Ellis.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday Night Lights

Something is amiss. I have a relentless tickly chest cough and the back of my neck aches. I have a feeling this is going to put a serious dent in my weekend. Before I succumb completely, a few thoughts.

My daughter and I saw the musical at River Hill High School last night. I didn't take the time to count but it is amazing how many students are involved in an effort like this. It isn't merely about a few "talented" kids who get the lead roles. Mounting a school musical is a long, complex, and arduous endeavor, and it involves ensemble and bit players just as much as the "stars".

And for every sight and sound onstage there are set builders, prop people, lighting and sound technicians, stage crew, orchestra pit musicians, ushers and box office staff, makeup and costume people offstage. In a school this means students learning from and working with teachers who are often donating their time in their areas of expertise.

Before words like "engagement" and "grit" or "rigor" were Ed Reform buzzwords, Arts Education was providing the real thing without need for testing or metrics. Students learn about working together towards a shared goal. They feel pride in their work, enjoy camaraderie as they work together. Adolescents were not made to sit at a desk all day and be receptacles for efficiently delivered content. They need to move, to feel, to care. They need to stretch themselves, take risks, build relationships, try new things.

As much as I champion Arts Education, I want to be clear that there are other ways that provide equally valuable experiences for students: sports, robotics, service organizations like Best Buddies, to name a few. Outside of school young people get involved with animal care, environmental projects, entrepreneurial ventures, political activism. Adolescence is a time when our kids are open to finding a passion and pursuing it. It is a great time to latch onto an "apprenticeship" of sorts: going deep.

Being good at sitting at a desk for long periods of time is not a predictor of anything we want for our kids in the long term. Being compliant receptacles for efficiently delivered content may (possibly) improve test scores but it does little to nothing in preparing human beings for success in life. "Educating the whole child" used to be something we valued and we've been on a dangerous path for far too long. Students are not just brains to be serviced by technicians, provided with bodies merely to get them from classroom to classroom and desk to desk. The best education acknowledges the fullness of human experience.

It's musical season in area high schools. Catch one (or more) if you can. When you see joy, focus, attention, energy, excitement, teamwork, and mastery--you're seeing education at its best.


Friday, March 4, 2016


This morning in hyperlocal news:
  • There's snow on our lawn chairs but not on the patio.
  • We are out of bananas.
  • The amount of snow which causes a two-hour delay is different in March than it is in December.
  • I think my hair is thinning.
In short, the only way out of bed this morning appears to have been the wrong side.

Yesterday one of the candidates for the Board of Education did something which spoke volumes about what kind of a board member they would be. I'm not going to get into detail here but I will say that I hope that all the candidates truly understand that this election should not be an exercise in political "business as usual." If people get the feeling that the new candidates are no different than the old, what reason will they have to turn out and vote at all?

There are some excellent people running. Take the time to check them out. Mark your calendars for the League of Women Voters event:

The League of Women Voters of Howard County invites you to join us on March 19, 2016, from 1-5 p.m., for our Candidates’ Forum with Howard County’s candidates for the Board of Education and the U.S. House of Representatives. The forum will be held in the Banneker Room in the George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, 21043. The event will be available via live streaming at The forum will also be rebroadcast on Howard County Government Television (GTV) channel 44 on Verizon and channel 99 on Comcast.

A special shout-out to the League for their commitment to engaging citizens in the political process, educating voters, and continuing to provide their well-run community forums year after year.
A postscript on today's post:
People make mistakes. People learn from their mistakes. We'll see what happens from here on out. I urge you to get educated and make up your own mind.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Promote What You Love

In the midst of a divisive and vituperative election season, I'm reminded of the saying, "Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate." My organist friend, the one with the successful heart transplant, has taken a social media break because he's so overwhelmed with the steady diet of negativity. I don't blame him.

There are several stories I could be chasing down today but I find myself pushing back and wanting something different. So, here goes.

This is what I love:

I love hearing my teenager talk at the end of the day about how her piano teacher says she has improved so much since the start of the year. I love quizzing her for her biology test and seeing how much she's learned about the circle of life, and yes, it's more than a song.

I love arriving at the HoCoBlogs party with windblown hair because my grown-up daughter is now proudly driving her first car, a convertible. (And not too cold because it has, as she says, "tushy toasters".)

I love meeting my neighbor's new dog, an adorable German shepherd with impossibly big ears. Echo may not know it yet, but he has hit the jackpot with the best doggy mom ever. I look forward to seeing him grow up.

I love having a husband who loves both music and baseball, because that means any day now he'll be planted in front of the tv with his beloved Orioles while playing acoustic guitar. Or electric bass. Or banjo. Or harp. Or tuba.

I love my circle of friends in Oakland Mills who care enough to get involved in our community and in our schools. They encourage me to be my better self. They make me think, they make me laugh. They make room for my quirks and imperfections.

I love all those local folks who geek out about local news and politics. It may be a bubble, and we may be stuck in it, but it's our bubble and we love it. These are the folks who know who shows up to County Council meetings and why. They want to make our community a better place today, and they're keeping an eye on tomorrow at the same time. They make current events fun for me.

I love this place where I live--Columbia, and Howard County. I love that I am still learning knew things and meeting new people. I love hearing about how we can treasure our natural environment, and how we have so many historical sites worth preserving. I love watching Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods move forward with the building of the Chrysalis.

That's what I love: home. And the people who make it home.

There's plenty of time tomorrow for the tough stories.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Small Story

News out of the Columbia Association is on the budget.
News from this particular tweet is that the Howard County Times is still just as nostalgic for the old CA building as most of us are. This is the current CA Headquarters:

(From Columbia Association website)

I am pretty sure that when this piece first went up, the same photo of the old headquarters accompanied the story. It isn't now, so they've corrected their error. Just for fun I did a Google images search of "Columbia Association Headquarters" and the top ten results were:

1. The old HQ at Lake Kittamaqundi
2. Rouse brothers statue
3. Overhead view of the lakefront
4. The People Tree
5. New CA HQ
6. The Caterpillar, Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods
7. New CA logo
8. Artist's rendering of old Rouse Building reimagined for Whole Foods
9. New CA HQ (different from #5)
10. Overhead view of the lakefront (different from #3)

Is any of this important? No, not really. Is the Howard County Times nostalgic? No, probably not. I just found it mildly amusing because Columbia is a place where many people have great difficulty with change, so a photo of the old headquarters seemed perfectly fitting, somehow. If you're a "Columbia watcher" those little bits of trivia reach out and grab you.

I really must get a life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Social Capital, Two Ways

Last night HoCo Bloggers and their friends came out for a party at the new Nalley Fresh restaurant in Dobbin Center. It's been a while since we've all gotten together, and it almost felt like a family reunion. A big ol' HoCo Holler to Jessie Newburn for coordinating the event and to Greg Nalley and his team for hosting us. Extra cool points go to guitarist Mark Scott for his musical contributions which made this event into a celebration with personality.

As to the restaurant itself, Nalley Fresh truly shone last night. They've redone the space, and it's lovely. The staff were extraordinarily helpful explaining menu choices, and the service was excellent. It's worth noting that the restaurant was open for regular business while also catering to the whims of over one hundred partying bloggers. Well done!

I had a Greek Wrap with chicken and it was delicious. There are so many ways to choose what you want to eat there that I feel like you could go a million times and never run out of fresh choices. I think picky kids could be very happy here, too. I think that's the plan. Fresh choices that are easy choices. I like it.

As always, Jessie encouraged bloggers to use their social capital to pay it forward, and let the community know what they liked about the venue and encourage folks to come on down. I'm happy to recommend Nalley Fresh because it adds a much-needed option to our local mix of fast-casual restaurants: fresh, healthy, tasty, appealing. Try it!

Social capital Part Two:

Howard County parent Barb Krupiarz has put together a new website called A Better Board of Ed. Please check it out. More than that, share it with anyone you know who wants to learn more about what's going on with the Board of Education race. It is a one-stop informational goldmine: extremely well-documented and well laid out.

If you want to know more about Ms. Krupiarz and her story, click on the red box at the top left which reads, "A Better BOE" and then choose "About Me". If you don't know her already, you'll be amazed at what she has been through in working for transparency in the Howard County Schools. She didn't let what happened to her defeat her. In fact, it appears to have energized her.

While the page does offer recommendations for particular candidates, the overall messages are "get educated about the issues" and "vote for new leadership." I urge you to do both, starting with a visit to this page.

And use your social capital to spread the word for a better board of education.