Saturday, June 17, 2017

Guest Post: A Second Look

A few weeks ago I expressed some skepticism about the County Executive's choice to fill the empty seat on the Board of Education. That skepticism was fueled by the reactions of parents in the community who felt they were not being heard, and that the choice was purely a political one.

This week I read another take on this story from former BOE candidate and in-coming PTACHC President Vicky Cutroneo. I thought it was important to share it here.

A Second Look

Yesterday, I met with Ananta Hejeebu, CE Kittleman's appointee for the vacant Board of Education seat.  As you may recall, I decided not to apply for the position believing that this was an opportunity to appoint a person with a skill set and perspective that would complement our Board of Education... isn't it nice to have Mavis Ellis' expertise on discipline and equity?  Christina Delmont-Small's budget expertise?  I admit when I hear people say we need board members "who think like us", I cringe.  Sounds like a cult.  (although I know it's more a reference to similar politics.. regardless.. it doesn't belong on the Board of Education.)  I believe the most productive groups are the most diverse...and this includes diversity of thought.  Board members should challenge and be challenged.  But I digress.

Lots of people have come out swinging claiming Mr. Hejeebu's appointment was all politics.  And you know what?  I was one of them.  Given the fact that I am a registered Republican and I was publicly critical of the appointment, I think sharing my thoughts may help provide some unbiased perspective.

Last June, I was the victim of a politically motivated smear campaign.  I'm not ready to share details  but suffice it to say. I was pretty devastated.   I asked people to meet me in person if they had concerns.  And most did.  Those who didn't weren't interested in education, they were interested in advancing their political agenda.

It's so easy to re-write someone's narrative for your own convenience with social media (and in my case, come creative photoshopping of campaign signs).  I realized it was important to give Ananta the chance I asked people to give me 2016.

Since the announcement of his appointment, Ananta has made himself available to anyone who has concerns.  He has met with special ed parents, learning all he can about current issues, he has attended SECAC meetings, BOE meetings, met with school and elected officials.   He is listening and learning.

We talked for over 2 hours yesterday.  I am impressed.  I'm not easily impressed, nor am I looking at this appointment thru a political lens.  I apologized for my premature and knee jerk reaction to his appointment.

Though he is a successful business owner, a church elder, a community and youth volunteer, what truly sets him apart is this:   he is a dad who has fought for his disabled son for 17 years.   I truly believe he will fight for your children as if they were his own.   His appointment is historic for the board as he will be the first Asian ever to serve.  I also believe if we desire our board to reflect our community, we benefit greatly with the addition of an HCPSS dad.

He may not know all of the laws, regulations and the ins and outs of each and every issue--but that is not so important as the desire to learn, ability to listen and the courage to take action.   I'm convinced that Ananta will learn, listen and get things done.

If you still have doubts, meet with Ananta, don't listen to me or anyone else.


Thanks to Ms. Cutroneo for giving me permission to share this here.

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