Capital Op-ed

Hutzell, Rick, Editor’s desk: Arguments for – and against – an elected school board are easy, May 22, 2016.

Snider Comment

I’d suggest that the debate should not be about an elected vs. appointed board but 1) what constitutes a well-designed elected or appointed board (there are many, many variations on those basic school governance formats), and 2) how much power a school board should have vs. the executive (commonly described as the degree of “mayoral” control).

In my opinion, some elected boards are better than appointed boards and vice versa.

I’m less ambivalent about mayoral control. In a giant public school system such as AACPS, we need more mayoral control (e.g., executive appointment of the superintendent) because mayoral control brings more transparency and accountability. One aspect of that transparency is greater news coverage. The press will pay greater attention to school board politics when it can focus a greater percentage of its coverage on the executive. That transparency will then translate into greater accountability, as the public will have a better idea who to blame or reward for school policies and implementation.