Introductory Note: Something is very strange in this sequence of two op-eds by Delegate Pamela Beidle within five days of each other on the same subject and in the same publication, with only the second one published in the print edition as well as the online edition.  My guess is that the first one proved to be so riddled with obvious factual errors that the editors pulled it for the print edition, especially because the two op-eds purport to correct factual errors.  But this theory is undercut by the fact that the Capital continues to place the first op-ed, not the second one, next to more recent articles on the School Board Nominating Commission.  Of course, this may simply be due to editorial error; for example, keyword links may not have been updated after the second op-ed was published.  In any case, the first op-ed vividly illustrates the Capital’s practice of not publishing corrections to factual mistakes in its articles.  Beidle is vice-chair of the Anne Arundel County Delegation and chair of the Education Subcommittee in the Maryland General Assembly.

Capital Op-ed

Beidle, Pamela, Here are facts on nominating panel changes, Capital, April 27, 2016.

Snider Comment

“The five experienced commissioners….”

No, the stakeholders weren’t all experienced. Notably, the Community College rep. was not only new but quite confused (see my reporting at A majority of the five stakeholder reps. have seen at least one other replacement since the initial gubernatorial appointment. These include the PTA, Chamber, and Community College. The author didn’t do her homework before writing this op-ed.

“[A] PTA representative, and a representative from the Association of Educational Leaders (a principal). With all of these members, only one commissioner was guaranteed to be a parent, and she was also a teacher and vice president of teachers association.”

The author fails to mention the fourth union rep.: the head of AFSCME, which represents the second largest group of employees in AACPS. Just because he was appointed by the former governor to represent a legislative district doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be mentioned. The author also doesn’t mention that on every single pivotal vote the VP of TAAAC (the PTA rep.) voted along with TAAAC’s official rep.

“[T]he new commissioners immediately changed the number of votes needed to send a nomination to the governor from a supermajority…. The five experienced commissioners had no say in the nominations.”

The author doesn’t mention that under the old system the four public union reps. (three of whom here are characterized as the “experienced commissioners”) had veto power over all nominations. There were four public union reps. and under a supermajority voting rule that was all the votes needed for a veto. On all pivotal votes, the four union reps voted as a block.

“Here are facts on nominating panel changes.”

Turns out, many of the “facts” are either quite controversial or simply wrong.

Capital Op-Ed

Beidle, Pamela, Setting the record straight on the nominating commission, Capital, April 22, 2016.

Snider Comment

“Since the current county executive was elected, he has been involved in six of the eight appointments to the school board.”

A very slippery formulation. This double counts Pickard’s appointment. She was initially appointed on May 30, 2015 for a term that expired on July 1, 2016, so her seat was subject to a second appointment during early 2016. It also counts the three May 30, 2015 appointments where the Governor had no control over the nominations because they were nominated by the previous SBNC. If I were awarding this Pinocchios, like the Washington Post does in its fact checking, I’d give it three.

“They are trying to name the nominees 15 months in advance of a vacancy.”

The vacancy occurs on July 1, 2017. The appointment won’t occur before late May 2016. That’s 13 months.

“The county executive made six new appointments in January, all were people involved in politics.”

No, the county executive is only entitled to make one appointment. The other five are made by the governor. Those five appointments were made in October 2015. The Governor’s and County Executive appointments were made months apart. As for the use of the word “politics,” the previous appointees by elected officials were similarly “involved in politics.” The use of “politics” as a term of disparagement should be defended.

“There seems to be a good deal of inaccurate information in the media, social media and emails concerning the changes to the Anne Arundel County School Board Nominating Commission.”

Yes, I agree.

Capital Letter-To-The-Editor

Delaware, Jamie, Board Selection, April 27, 2016.

I am the parent of two wonderful children here in Anne Arundel County, both who are just starting off in the west county feeder system. Knowing that they have 10 years left in the Anne Arundel County school system, it is reasonable, if not intelligent, for me to keep an eye on the bodies that have such a significant effect on the education that they will receive.

I am outraged at the General Assembly for hijacking a simple bill and turning it into a complete overhaul of the Anne Arundel County school board, without any public input! Did my delegates or senators reach out to communities to see what changes we would want most? Did they ask if we consented to the silencing of our input as they took away the little bit of geographic diversity that existed previously?

Instead they catered to the special interests that they think will get them re-elected. But their actions have now cost them my vote.

I am all for altering the school board, but take your time, do it right, and include input from the public (you know, the ones whose kids actually go to these schools and feel the effects of these decisions).

I am thankful to Gov. Larry Hogan for sticking up for what is right and vetoing this hot mess of a bill.



Editor’s note: Hogan’s veto of the legislation was overridden.

Snider Comment

“Did my delegates or senators reach out to communities to see what changes we would want most?”

Same thing happened in 2007 when the Maryland General Assembly passed the original legislation creating the School Board Nominating Commission. The Assembly rammed it through without allowing public comment (see for the history of the original legislation). George Santayana famously said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What a sad example for our children when our know-it-all leaders demonstrate contempt for meaningful public deliberation and as a result, like teenagers, repeatedly make so many needless mistakes.

Other recent SBNC related Letters-To-The-Editor