Students Denied A Vote That Doesn't Count

THE SCENE-County currents and undercurrents

March 25, 1992|By Donna E. Boller James M. Coram

It was deja vu all over again when county students mounted an effortthis month to get voting privileges for their delegate to the schoolboard. Not a real vote that would count in the decision, you understand, just a record of where the student associate stands on issues that come before the board.

The closest thing to support for the idea came from Chairwoman Deborah D. Kendig, who said she was "equivocalabout it."

So, why is it a big deal for the student to have even a non-counting vote?

"Accountability," replies Student Associate Jamie M. Kendrick. "Just like the board does, I represent a group of people."

Adults who want to know how their representatives voted on a specificissue can find out. Students should be able to get similar information about their delegate, Kendrick says.

Ashish Bagal, president ofthe Howard County Association of Student Councils, says even a non-counting vote would allow the student associate to participate in the process.

"I don't know why they're so afraid of us," he says.

Robert Pascal poses a similar question to the Maryland school boards that bar voting privileges for student members. Pascal, now the governor's appointments secretary, was the General Assembly delegate who sponsored the 1975 legislation that made Anne Arundel County's student board member the first in the nation to have full voting privileges.

"These are not foreigners, they're our children," he says. "What are we afraid of? There's only one of them."

Dana F. Hanna, vice chairman of the Howard board, predicts that a non-counting student votewould confuse the public. "When you take a vote, the perception is that it counts," he says. Future readers of board minutes might wonderwhy a motion carried when the recorded vote was divided 3-3.

Carroll County has had a student board member with a non-counting vote since 1973-1974, without any evidence of public confusion. Carroll residents seem to understand clearly the student member's role, says Board President Cheryl A. McFalls.

Four Howard board members, Kendig, Hanna, Karen B. Campbell and Susan J. Cook, say that a vote alone would mean little without an understanding of the reasoning behind it. Their answer is for the student associate to explain positions and argue points during board discussions. Kendig acknowledges that the responsibility for ensuring that the student has the opportunity to participate rests with her as chairman.

Howard students lost the first round in 1986. Delegate Virginia M. Thomas, D-13A, and former Delegate William C. Bevan sponsored a bill to give the student associate a non-counting vote, but the bill was killed in the face of school boardopposition.

They lost the second round this month when the board drew a black line through a sentence in its proposed policy on student representation. The line would have read, "The student associate's vote on agenda items at board meetings shall be recorded but have no bearing on the outcome of the vote."

ALPHABET SOUP

Down at the paper, they have a name for this sort of thing. They call it a Story Concerning Ecker's News Event (SCENE).

This particular story is an Article Containing Rehashes Of Nouvelle Yuppie Mots (ACRONYM) that County Executive Charles I. Ecker used at a speech to the Chamber of Commerce on March 12.

("Nouvelle" and "Mots" give a story panache. Editors love panache. "Rehash" conjures up fried grits. Editors don't like conjuring.)

These are Ecker's bon mots:

LULU: Locally Unwanted Land Use.

NIMBY: Not In My Back Yard.

NIMFYE: Not In My Front Yard Either.

PITTBY: Put It In Their Back Yard.

NIMTOO: Not In My Term Of Office.

NIMEY: Not In My Election Year.

NOPE: Not On Planet Earth.

BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.

CAVE: Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

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