Common Core implementation shows why Balto. Co. needs a hybrid school board [Letter]

December 03, 2013

Baltimore County's school board is one of the less than 10 percent of the school boards in the nation that is not elected by the local voters. Presently, members are selected by the governor who, in this case, is from Baltimore City. The next governor may be from Montgomery or Prince George's County near Washington, D.C. Why should a politician who has neither roots nor relationship to Baltimore County select our local educational leaders? Abraham Lincoln once said, "Government closest to the people governs best." That is why Baltimore County needs a hybrid school board.

The new board would consist of 11 members: Seven elected members, one from each council district, and four appointed by the Baltimore County executive. I co-sponsored a similar Board of Education law for Harford County. It has been operating successfully for many years.

The hybrid school board bill is part of my "Excellence in Education Initiative" that I will be introducing in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly that convenes in. The initiative includes three other proposals. One piece of legislation will repeal the "Common Core" standards in Baltimore County. In case the repeal fails, the following proposals will be made. The next piece of legislation is the "Common Core Disclosure Act" which would mandate that Baltimore County disclose all revenue dedicated to the implementation of Common Core. The final bill, the "Common Core Commission," will establish a group that studies all the concerns raised about the program and answers questions. The commission will be comprised of all stakeholders, including teachers and parents.

The Baltimore County School Board, like many politically appointed boards, has become too "clubby" and distant from the people. The implementation of Common Core standards has been a classic example of a lack of transparency. The massive top-down revision of our entire education system deserves more involvement from the public. Currently, the Baltimore County education system is experiencing a multitude of challenges such as redistricting, new types of teacher evaluations, new testing procedures, and curriculum schedule changes. All of this coming at one time, along with Common Core standards being heaped upon overworked classroom teachers and confused children, makes a clear case for the need of a responsive, hybrid school board. The idea of having seven elected members with four appointed by the county executive, all of them local citizens, defines a hybrid school board, which is needed now more than ever.

Del. Pat McDonough

The writer, a Republican, represents the 7th District in Baltimore and Harford counties.

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