Monday, March 29, 2021

Get Out of the Way


A few months ago I expressed my concern that it might be difficult to field candidates for the Student Member of the Board position due to interference from adults which ranged from criticism to persistent bullying to the filing of a lawsuit. “Who would want that job?” I thought.

Kids Won’t Be Fooled

Well here we are in March, the lawsuit failed and we have two qualified SMOB candidates ready to campaign for next year’s Board. At first glance, that looks promising.

And yet...

When one candidate publicized an Instagram event which was to be held with a former Board of Education member as a guest, those same adults who’ve been so angry all along got...angry. They don’t like that former Board Member or anything she stands for. So of course it was just a hop, skip, and a jump for them to condemn the student candidate and declare fervent support for his opponent.

At the risk of sounding rude: it really doesn’t matter what they think. This election is for students.  Telling your kids how to vote in the SMOB election is a violation of the process. Our young people are given the opportunity to make up their own minds on who is most qualified to serve. The adult’s job is to get out of the way. Considering how adolescents respond to parental pressure, this surge of interference could very well backfire. 

How many kids want to cast a vote for student governance because mom or dad told them to?

Speaking of adults, I do want to touch of the issue of including an adult in a campaign event. I don’t think there’s anything remotely nefarious about it. But I think it’s completely unnecessary. I can see why the student would want to emulate similar techniques used in other sorts of campaigns. I can also see the adult wanting to support the student on their campaign journey. 

But I think the focus should be student-to-student. Adults aren’t needed here. And, despite what I believe were perfectly good intentions, the inclusion of an adult has served to generate negative energy rather than support the process. That’s unfortunate. 

This should not be a huge controversy. If anything, it’s a hiccup in the campaign which can easily be handled by the people in the school system who work alongside students in the election process. What made it a controversy? Adults. 

Let the kids do their thing, Howard County. Right now the adults are making a mess of it.

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