Any parents of teenagers out there?
You know how they can be. Petulant, moody, non-responsive, self-absorbed. They ask you for ridiculous amounts of money that you know they will only spend on silly, selfish things. When you explain that your family budget does not allow for that kind of monetary request, they get sulky and mopey and argumentative and throw what is basically a toddler’s tantrum. And they say they hate you and threaten multiple ways to get back at you.
Now imagine if this person, in grown-up form, is the superintendent of the Howard County Public School System.
The teenage request that would blow up the family budget is being acted out in real life on a much bigger stage here in HCPSS. First came the threats that we wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on, from Board of Education chair Christine O’Connor. We all laughed at the silliness of that threat coming from the leadership of the school system in the wealthiest county in Maryland. One that had just received $19 million more from the county government than the year before. We can’t keep the lights on? Please.
It turns out the lights are still on but the copiers aren’t. Nor are Materials of Instruction funding for teachers (to fund classroom supplies and e-learning tools for students), Workshop Fees for teachers to attend professional learning opportunities in their subject area, intramural activities for middle school students, and paraeducators who provide irreplaceable support for teachers and students in the classroom.
But funds were increased for MAP testing, Gallup surveys and data, and a Board of Education room renovation that went nearly $200K over budget. There continues to be no in-house counsel for HCPSS, meaning they are paying lawyers by the hour at private firms that charge for every email and phone call.
It’s kind of like when your teenager takes her allowance, spends it all at the mall and the movies, and then throws an epic tantrum when she has no money left for gas in her car. And she will not listen to you when you try to suggest there are more important ways to budget her money. She digs in her heels and grits her teeth in defiance and says “It’s my money and I’ll spend it however I want!!”
Back to the superintendent case – in the absence of a “parent” (the Board of Education, in this metaphor) to exercise some control and reign in the tyrannical teenage actions of the superintendent (who is supposed to be their employee), there is only one way forward here. We have the chance to elect a new Board of Education in November that will exercise its “parental” responsibility over the rebellious teenage behavior of our superintendent. A new majority on the Board of Education will bring sanity to this oversight debacle and ensure the budget (which is really our tax dollars) is spent giving our students the best education we can and our teachers the best working environment possible.
The People’s Voice is very grateful for the informed and present voters who have already changed the make-up of our Board of Education during the primary. We continue to endorse Kirsten Coombs, Vicky Cutroneo, Christina Delmont-Small and Mavis Ellis for Board of Education. You can vote for 3 of these candidates on November 8. Find more information about each of them at www.peoplesvoicellc.org.