Thursday, January 21, 2021

Using Power to Disempower

I have never met the new Republican appointee to the Maryland delegation. I don’t even need to do a search of Reid Novotny to know his name has never appeared on the blog. Today he makes a grand though dubious entrance as he strives to strip away the right to cast votes from Student Members of the Board across the State of Maryland. 

Mr. Novotny, who was not elected by the voters but rather hand-selected by members of his party, wants to delegitimize and disempower student leaders who were duly elected by their peers. In fact, current Howard County SMOB Zach Koung received 4,732 more votes then Reid Novotny did. 

And they say education issues aren’t political. 

The basis of his proposed legislation is that student members must be prevented from casting what is being referred to as “deciding” votes. This, in turn, is predicated on the misunderstanding/falsehood that it was specifically the HoCoSMOB’s vote which prevented a return to in person learning. That’s not how the HoCoBOE voting rules work, but the concept is being perpetuated by those who wish to strip any meaningful power from the SMOB position. It suits their narrative.

So House Bill HR 1189 is based on inaccurate information about Maryland State Law as it pertains to student representation on Boards of Education throughout the state. I don’t pretend to know Mr. Novotny, but, if I were going up against some of the smartest, most able students in the state of Maryland,  I would have done my homework first. 

Beyond that, what it all boils down to is that the proposed legislation seeks to take away voting rights for SMOBs in any case where their vote might make a difference. And why does anyone choose to enter public service? To make a difference. 

Now, the 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly is already underway, and it stands to reason that Novotny’s proposed legislation (House Bill HR 1789) is coming along far too late in the game to make any headway. Nevertheless I feel that a bit of extra effort to oppose this wrong-headed proposal is merited. 

If you have a moment, write your state elected officials. It can be as simple as letting them know that:

1. You support current MD State Laws empowering SMOBs to vote, and
2. You oppose House Bill HR 1789.

You can also reach out to House Majority Leader Delegate and the Ways and Means committee that will be considering this bill: .

For a Twitter thread describing the situation in more detail, see @CarlaG2507 beginning here.

Sorry to be asking you to send emails twice in one week, but it seems that local education issues are going to be keeping us on our toes for the foreseeable future.

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