Sunday, May 7, 2017

I Object

No sooner than the Superintendent's "retirement" deal was announced I spotted folks online criticizing the County Executive's role in mediating the impasse between the Board and Dr. Foose. In short, the complaints seemed to center around two points:

1. Kittleman is a lousy mediator if he couldn't do better than 1.6 million.
2. Kittleman is patting himself on the back and using this to make himself look good.

I object.

1. The former Board of Education, basically gambling with our tax dollars, voted on a legal contract that the current Board (and the County Executive, for that matter) were bound by. May I remind you that former Board Chair Christine O'Connor forced a vote without allowing questions or discussion? Does the C.E. have extra-legal powers that I don't know about?

2. All politicians are self-promoters. It comes with the job. It behooves them to tell the public what they are doing. My County Council member Calvin Ball wrote a brilliant letter to the State Superintendent of Schools advocating for a change in hcpss leadership. He rightly shared his letter with the public. He hopes it did some good.

Is he "patting himself on the back"? Do you think he deserves praise or ridicule?

To be clear, what I object to is passing judgment without truly knowing what was going on. I object to snap judgement based on partisan politics. We like what "our guy" does. We splutter with indignation at the "other guy".

If we could just wait a bit before we reduce the whole thing to partisanship, that'd be great.

Personally, I am grateful to everyone who brought us to where we are today. That would include: the County Executive, the County Council, members of the current Board of Education, the Howard County Delegation, the Maryland General Assembly, parent advocates, HCEA, perhaps even the Maryland Board of Public Works. I refuse to assign gratitude to members of one political party over the other.

Feel free to hold whatever opinions you like. But accept my humble suggestion that none of us were in the room where it happened. How on earth can we know enough to pass judgement?

Oh, and one more thing. By law the County Executive appoints the next Board member, now that Christine O'Connor has resigned. If the public discourse sinks to a mudfest of partisan bickering, will that give him any motivation to make a non-partisan choice? Words have consequences. There's a lot at stake here.

Something to think about.

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