Who Do You Want School Board to Represent: Politicians or Citizens?

Why shouldn't candidates for the Board of Education stand before their fellow citizens and explain why they should be elected and ask for their votes like all other public leaders?

It is the 21st century. Why shouldn't the Board of Education of Baltimore County be elected? Why shouldn't candidates for the Board of Education stand before their fellow citizens and explain why they should be elected and ask for their votes? 

In American government at the local, state and national levels, government leaders are elected. Candidates for office put themselves before their fellow citizens and explain why they should be elected to a particular office and ask for their votes. The winner of each political contest gets the job. 

Now the Board of Education is politically populated. Appointment is totally under the control of the governor and Baltimore County executive.  Given the fact that 95 percent of school boards nationwide are elected, having an all elected board in Baltimore County is hardly "progressive" or "breaking new ground."

Why do Baltimore County and state politicians think that they are more capable of choosing school board members than the voting public?

The arguments that diversity would be limited by an elected school board is weak. Currently, three of the four at-large positions, established to ensure equity on the Baltimore County Board of Education, are not minority and none of the four lives in a minority neighborhood. 

If adequate time and thought are given to setting up the non-partisan districts,
racial diversity can be achieved. A friend of mine suggested dividing the
districts by high schools trying to equalize student population via feeder
patterns for the high schools. This could ensure racial equity if properly done
since minority students are now the majority in Baltimore County Public
Schools. I am sure there are many other good ideas.

Board of Education members must be paid enough to enable them to run an effective, if non-partisan, campaign. I am sure that Maryland state legislators are paid as well as county councilmembers, who are also part-time employees. 

To determine salary for Board of Education members, remember that Baltimore County Public School System is the 3rd largest in Maryland and the 26th largest in the nation. Ask the Maryland Association of Boards of Education to provide a list of salaries for the other 24 school systems in Maryland. I would think that the salary would be in the range of the largest and second-largest school systems in Maryland, respectively—Prince George and Montgomery Counties.

I am looking forward to working with other education advocates for a fully-elected Board of Education for Baltimore County next year in Annapolis. We have to start now. We need to develop a plan outlining key points for an elected Baltimore County School Board. The plan should address how the school districts should be set up to ensure equity, minimum qualifications for candidates, salaries for school board members, etc. We should share these plans with our State legislators.   

We need to unite like-minded Baltimore County citizens who know that the time for change to an elected school board is now.  We the people of Baltimore County can be successful!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Amirault April 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM
You asked, thus, I as an opponent of an elected school will throw in my two cents for you. Attorney, certified public accountant, journalist, school administrator, student, former Board of Education employee, college mathematics professor, former House of Delegates member, construction manager, long time PTA member, management consultant with MBA, public relations director, retired principal, and males and females of a variety of colors is what describes the current Board of Education of Baltimore County. One member is a high school student, all of the remaining members but one have at least a bachelor's degree and many have advanced degrees from various colleges. All are of unknown political affiliations. Appointed, yes, qualified, yes. Problem with the Board was the Superintendent, hopefully they have learned their lesson. Do you really think the electorate can do better than that, I doubt it? No one will pay attention, no one will vet, and sadly, no one will care about the candidates. A filing fee and you are on the ballot. Get listed first and you might have a job, paying as you suggest.


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