Yesterday was the six-year anniversary of one of the most-read pieces on this blog. If you read it the first time, feel free to take the day off, but you just might want to take another look. I’d like to think that something like this couldn’t happen again, but, of course it could. You’d just need to have the right combination of factors. That worries me.
Truly, one of the largest contributing factors to this debacle was that the community just wasn’t paying attention to what was happening at Central Office and on the BOE. That lack of scrutiny allowed various players, one in particular, to amass a frightening amount of power.
As we ramp up for another Board of Education race, perhaps a reread of this piece is a good reminder: you absolutely must pay attention and fulfill your personal responsibility as a member of the community if you want our school system to be healthy enough to withstand power plays from bad actors. Believe me, there are usually folks like that waiting in the wings somewhere, assessing the possibilities for pushing a carefully crafted agenda, looking for the best moment to make their move.
Do I sound a bit like Cassandra here? Perhaps. On the other hand, I’ve seen this happen once before.
Pay attention, friends.
These Doors Are Shut (February 5, 2016)
A lot of Howard County parents turned out for an open meeting of the Board of Education yesterday, only to discover that the event was by invitation only. And they weren't on the guest list.Here's the invitation.
From Voices of Parents and Stakeholder in HCPSS:
In her remarks, Cindy Vaillancourt said she had been approached by a community member to ask for time for people to request that the vote be postponed. No such action was permitted.
Board Chair Christine O'Connor issued an edict that Board members would have a chance for discussion about the contract after the vote was taken. Cindy made a motion that they have discussion before the vote, but that was voted down 5-2.
The room full of central office employees issued a well orchestrated round of applause for Dr. Foose when her contract was approved by a roll call vote of 5-2, with Cindy and Bess Altwerger voting against.
They allowed for Board discussion after the vote. Well, that's new and different. I thought you were required to have discussion before the vote.
The best description I read of what it feels like to be a parent in the Howard County School System comes in this quote:
I had two different gentlemen with board of Education badges tell me in NO uncertain terms that the room was full. I tried to open the doors that separated the back room from the main hall. Another man with a badge yanked them shut, looked at me and said, "these doors are STAYING shut."
And that's today's news, ladies and gentlemen: the doors are shut.
Are they staying shut? Well, that's up to you.