Diversity of opinion on board a strength, not 'dysfunction'

Letter to the Editor

August 01, 2011

Regarding Howard County Executive Ken Ulman's recent criticism of the Board of Education as "dysfunctional," I respectfully disagree.

As one often outspoken member of the board, I will be the first to acknowledge that current board members possess varied and often profoundly different opinions on how to best carry out the mandate of our citizens. That said, I view the diversity of opinion on the board as a strength, not a "dysfunction."

The current board has consistently worked within tight budget constraints to address a wide variety of critical issues impacting Howard County's children, the treasures for whom we board members are stewards, and ever mindful of protecting our frequently overlooked but most essential asset: Howard County's public school classroom teachers and support staff.

Recent accomplishments of the current board include the advent of a "world language" pilot program at the elementary school level, the successful conclusion of labor negotiations during tight economic conditions and the approval of a programmatic review of the impact of the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education ofTopeka, Kan.

I am particularly excited about the systemwide review of the impact of Brown v. Board of Education because it will inexorably lead to a motion and vote on whether the Howard County Board of Education should issue a formal apology for over half a century of operation of a racially segregated school system.

Finally, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Ulman's ill-conceived approach to introduce partisan politics and related gerrymandering into the election of our expressly nonpartisan Board of Education. Why would we in Howard County invite the ills demonstrated so vividly by the wasteful wrangling and brutish bickering of partisan politics in the recent national-debt-limit fiasco into the governance of our county's well respected public school system?

Allen Dyer

Ellicott City

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