Quick change on schools

January 31, 2007

Several school board appointments in Baltimore were hung up for months because of differences between former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and then-Mayor Martin O'Malley. But within two weeks of taking over as governor, Mr. O'Malley and Mayor Sheila Dixon have agreed on nominees for five seats, giving the board a full complement of nine members. It's a welcome sign that the acrimonious relations between the state and the city regarding the school system can be overcome.

Under a decade-old partnership, the mayor and the governor jointly select members of the Board of School Commissioners. To fill three vacancies, Mr. O'Malley and Ms. Dixon have chosen a longtime educator and former school administrator, a lawyer and former vice president of the local branch of the NAACP, and a local public television personality whose children attend public school and who is a frequent critic of the school system. They also reappointed the current board chairman and vice chairwoman.

Agreement on five appointments hardly means educational peace - many Baltimore schools remain troubled, and Mr. O'Malley would still like to be rid of state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who has often been a thorn in the side of the city's school system. But it's a glimmer of what can be accomplished through cooperation rather than confrontation.

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