Partially-elected school board would help Balto. Co.

March 17, 2010

I read with interest the letter from Nancy L. Ostrow regarding the proposed changes to Baltimore County's School Board ("More input needed on Balto. Co. school board bill," March 15). As the sponsor of this legislation to create a hybrid school board, I thought some clarification might be in order.

The bill would replace the current school board, which is comprised completely of gubernatorial appointments, with one that would be partially elected and partially appointed. Baltimore County is one of a small handful of school systems in this state that has no elected representation. Unlike Ms. Ostrow, I believe that the voters of Baltimore County are more than capable of electing good representatives for this local board. Unlike Ms. Ostrow, I believe that electing representatives would create a more accountable school board. And unlike Ms. Ostrow, I do not believe a study is needed to understand what school systems around the nation already know.

The voters of Baltimore County are smart and informed. It is insulting to their intelligence to suggest that they are not capable of making good decisions about who should represent them and the interests of Baltimore County's children.

There are problems with either an all-elected sytem or an all-appointed system. With the former, a board may tend toward too much politics. With the latter, a board can become too aloof. A hybrid board blends and balances the best and worst of these systems. It is beyond time to give the voters of Baltimore County a say as to who represents their interests best on the school board.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Annapolis

The writer is a Democrat representing District 11 in Baltimore County.

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