From Verjeana M. Jacobs, President, Maryland Association of Boards of Education:
As State Superintendent Lowery departs the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and new State Board appointees begin their terms, now more than ever, school boards across the state are needed to provide critical, consistent, and stable leadership to local students, schools, and communities.
The sea change in education policy over the last several years has rocked Maryland school systems, and the changing face of leadership at the state level poses another challenge. Maryland schools have continued to perform at high levels in the face of new, more rigorous standards, new standardized tests that come with the added challenge of online administration, a growing list of education requirements, and a rise in the number of students who have specialized needs or require greater support.
The Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), representing all 24 boards of education in the state, sees this period of transition as an opportunity to help shape the new education landscape alongside those who are taking the helm at the state level. Change is not new to the member boards of MABE, and whether this change is at the state or federal level, in the form of leadership or new standards and requirements, they are uniquely positioned to manage that change for our districts and communities.
Through regular public meetings and engagement opportunities, local school boards provide their communities with the venue to have meaningful, public dialogue around the educational goals and expectations set for their students. In addition to their leadership in this public discourse, members are out in their schools and communities, speaking with students, families, teachers, and community and business leaders.
Local boards are uniquely suited to work within the context of their communities’ values and goals, and to evaluate their schools’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs. They can identify where, on the path of progress, their district lies, and determine how to move forward to meet the broader vision set forth at the state and federal levels. With an intimate knowledge of their communities and school systems, local school boards are the most effective governing bodies to ensure that local capacity and resources are aligned with specific priorities to move their students forward.
School boards are in the best position to communicate effectively and to reflect community concerns, feedback, and suggestions on goals, laws, and regulations set at the state and federal levels. Serving as the local voice and advocate on education issues is a vital aspect of the local governance that school boards provide.
We appreciate Dr. Lowery’s meaningful work during her tenure, and look forward to a continued collaborative partnership with both Interim Superintendent Jack Smith and the Maryland State Board of Education. MABE remains steadfast in supporting local boards as they continue the critical work of education policy and governance, and speaking for each and every school and student in Maryland.
Verjeana M. Jacobs, Esq.