Saturday, August 29, 2020
I was going to write about Governor Hogan’s press event on Thursday but, frankly, the Baltimore Sun editorial board did it better. Read it here. The most important words to me are these:
Instead of complaining about local districts, the governor should be reaching out to them, listening and learning about their individual challenges, taking actions to help their circumstances. This is leadership.
Listening and collaboration have been in short supply during Hogan’s years in office. Perhaps he sees them as signs of weakness. He appears to prefer a top-down approach where the most important thing is to be seen making pronouncements from a podium: one man in the spotlight.
That may be powerful symbolism but, as the Sun editorial board points out, it’s not leadership. After what I thought was a strong start in addressing the pandemic, the Governor didn’t engage in the kind of collaborative follow-up with local jurisdictions that was necessary.
Perhaps he was too busy with his book and media appearances.
The tone that the Governor takes towards teachers has consistently been dismissive and almost hostile. His press conference performance is no different. He verbally swats away the concerns of teachers as merely the annoyance of a “special interest group.” Mr. Hogan forgets or chooses to ignore that teachers have some of the most expertise in understanding whether students can be taught and cared for safely in the midst of a pandemic. Or perhaps he shares his parties’ disdain for “experts”. I don’t know.
He also forgets that teachers belong to more than one “special interest group”. They are also parents. They are taxpayers. They are voters. To attempt to diminish teachers when you are trying to open schools is akin to denigrating health professionals when you are trying to eradicate an illness.
There may be some who continue to be impressed by an “I alone can fix it” governmental model. The problem is, it’s just too easy to see where it falls apart: local jurisdictions ignored and then thrown under the bus, professionals who should be valued partners criticized unfairly and disheartened. And parents all over the state who are upset and confused by a political stunt that didn’t really give them meaningful or timely information.
As the editorial states:
No matter how schools proceed, whether they stay online or move to a hybrid model or bring students back entirely, some people are going to be unhappy. How fortuitous to be the critic and not bear the burden of accountability.