Dear Delegate James,
I am writing to express my disappointment in your sponsorship of HB 806. HB 806 would create an oligarchy to control Harford County’s voice in the appointment of our school board members. I believe that this bill is directly in opposition to what is best for good government, positive education decision-making, and the people of Harford County.
The greatest accomplishment this bill could achieve is the creation of additional bureaucracy. Your bill would give the power to special interest groups, chosen by a means unknown to the public, to choose dues-paying members of their clubs to sit on a government-created “commission.” The commission would then make, using the criteria it creates, a list of the individuals the collection of special-interest representatives believes should serve on the school board.
The governor would then be able to review the list, and could reject the list until an individual the governor believes to be “qualified” is included on the list. The governor could select any individual from the list, meaning that the commission can essentially only eliminate candidates—the individual that Harford County’s commission of indeterminably chosen special interest groups’ selected members deems, by the method they develop, to be the most qualified is no more likely to be chosen than an individual the commission determines to be far less qualified, but whose name must be submitted in order to fill out the list of suggested individuals.
That all certainly sounds like a dilution of the process—the governor couldn’t be blamed for moving through lists and suggestions until an acceptable individual is chosen. Of course, once the individual is chosen, the people will still never have the opportunity to have their voices heard, or to hold the individual accountable for his or her decisions. Then again, oligarchies typically preserve their elitist status and don’t give the public an opportunity for input, so this process would be true to form.
Your bill has been introduced as a counter to the Harford Delegation-sponsored HB 779 and SB 306, which would create an elected school board in Harford County. 96% of the nation’s boards are elected, the majority of Maryland’s boards are elected, and thousands of Harford’s residents have vocalized support for an elected school board. Even opponents of elections, such as entrenched school board member Mark Wolkow, said at the public hearing for SB 306 that “if you put it to a referendum, you’ll have an elected school board.”
Of course, these few opponents of elections do not have faith in the people of Harford County. They do not believe that the citizens who determined that you, Delegate James, should serve in the House of Delegates were proficient, or intelligent, enough to do so. Mark Wolkow continued to state, “But I don’t think it’s necessarily because people would really understand what that means and what the difference is.” What Mr. Wolkow fails to understand is that it is the people who have the right to replace those representatives who don’t “necessarily” understand what their votes mean.
Harford County is home to a well-educated, highly involved, and caring community. The citizenry is fully capable of understanding what it means to have the right to vote, and to exercise that right appropriately. There are frequent community discussions on issues such as this, as is evidenced by the articles and discussion over your bill on the news outlet www.daggerpress.com. The people of Harford County oppose oligarchies and support elections—the citizens of Harford desire an elected school board.
Brian K. Young
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