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A strong supporter of public education questions whether our Board of Education serves any useful purpose.

I'm posting this because I'm concerned about my friend webmaster.  He and I are part of the Stop Costco Gas Station Coalition; I do odd jobs, he runs the website (obviously).  Normally he's a very calm guy, focussed on dotting the i's and crossing the t's.

But now he seems obsessed, really upset about the Board of Education: not about anything they've done, but about what they haven't done.  Guess I sort of get it.  He is upset because the BoE has not taken a position about the potential impact of the proposed Costco Gas Station (in Wheaton Mall) on the kids at Stephen Knolls School.  He even spoke out to them at a recent meeting, but got no response.  [His Public Comment is available at http://www.stopcostcogas.org/uploads/3/1/7/7/3177967/boe12feb2013.pdf]

Of course I understand his point (the BoE ought to take a position on matters that impact all MCPS kids), but I recognize the political realities here and wish webmaster could just move on.  But he can't.

It has to do with his background as a civic activist in the public schools arena.  Back several years ago, he and his friend (now deceased) Wayne Goldstein spent a lot of time trying to get the BoE to have some spine and stand up to the then Superintendent Jerry Weast.  Webmaster even campaigned (with some stupid mortar board on his head!) for a number of BoE candidates that he hoped would get elected and improve how the BoE functioned.  They did (get elected) but they didn't (improve things - at least according to webmaster).

But this seems to go deeper than just the Costco issue or the standard reaction of a supporter "betrayed".  Back in the day (as webmaster refers to it, even though it was not that long ago), he REALLY believed in the importance of having local Boards of Education.  Something to do with the history of public education in our country, etc.  And he actually had long arguments with friends about this, during which they repeatedly told him he was simply naive (or worse).

Well, webmaster absolutely hates to be wrong.  But he has been talking to various people in the county about their various "issues" with the BoE and has come to the conclusion that he not only was wrong, but plain stupid, and didn't really change anything.  [Earth to webmaster: "Duh!"]

All that is a kind of really round-about way of saying that webmaster - and I agree - is now asking a basic question:  If the Board of Education is so reluctant to express ANY opinion on an issue related to the potential health risk to kids in MCPS schools, is it really worthwhile to have a BoE?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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