As of the morning of Jan 4, over 1200 people signed our petition. Over 200 of these signers took time to include a comment, and the themes within the comments are remarkably similar. They paint a picture where HCPSS leadership ignores or dismisses parent’s concerns, and does not prioritize what is best for HCPSS students, families, teachers, and staff. Many comments, including from teachers and administrators, talk about increased class sizes; significantly decreased assistance for special needs students; and a culture of intimidation, fear, anxiety, and despair.
The response to this petition by BOE Members Sandra French, Ann De Lacy, and Christine O’Connor lends credibility to these comments. We see their responses as dismissive, irresponsible, and representative of the very issues at hand – an arrogant disregard for any opposition, and a blind eye towards real problems with HCPSS leadership. The goal of a petition is to present a representative sample of people to decision-makers, and to indicate that the issues are critical. Instead of taking this information and promising to resolve the problems, we get more of the same dismissiveness that is already an underlying theme of the entire situation. And now, there is an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun that is basically asking TEACHERS to check their consciences! No amount of learning new ways of teaching, quickly adapting to ever-present changes, or just focusing more on better achievement and evaluation, can fix this current crisis. To blame teachers here is a smokescreen.
These elected officials do us wrong by choosing to ignore their constituents, such as French stating that she will not be swayed by public opinion. Why have we not heard the BOE members or Foose tell us how they will FIX the problems? THAT is how a public official should be responding to this crisis.
Instead, HCPSS leadership has turned this petition into a numbers game. Every petition will have a few signatures that are placed there in a joking or even sabotaging manner, and we have done our best to remove them. The people are real; the numbers are but a representation of how many feel this way, especially given that the petition was launched over the holidays! At 400, De Lacy said it wasn’t enough of a percentage of the population of the whole County to matter. At 600, O’Connor said the names are fake. At 800, it wasn’t representative of the numbers in the school system. At over 1200, it’s not enough compared to some supposed number of happy campers.
It’s time to focus on some other numbers. If we look at the results in recent BOE elections, incumbents should note the difference between their totals and the person who wasn’t elected below them. BOE members, take note! When it comes to voters, these 1200+ signers, and all the others with whom our groups have contact, make for a significant voting percentage. The people involved with the petition are informed, interested, and highly likely to vote (and even work for) their chosen candidates.
For the record, De Lacy, French, and O’Connor have dismissed and/or attacked the petition and its signers. Vaillancourt and Atwerger have always expressed a desire to fix problems. Giles, Siddiqui, and Foose have been silent. My petition premonition is this. If the voters don’t get answers from the BOE on how these issues WILL be resolved, they will look to elect candidates who will provide them.
Thank you to all that signed, and to those who have become The People’s Voice members, donated to the PAC, and joined us on Facebook. You can be assured we will continue to represent your voices.