Capital Op-Ed

McGrath, Alex, Guest column: Schuh owes students an apology, Capital, November 6, 2015.

Snider Comment

I would suggest that far more condescending than County Executive Steve Schuh’s remarks are the policies that AACPS has implemented with regard to CRASC representation of students. In particular, I’d point you to the policies implemented by Assistant Superintendent Sarah S. (“Sally”) Pelham. I would also suggest that you prove County Executive Schuh wrong by addressing the substance of his remarks so that you demonstrate you have command of the facts that he contests.

Over the years, I have listened to many CRASC leaders testify before public bodies and have unfortunately found that many of them have been careless in vetting the facts that they use. Important steps to correct this situation would be a CRASC culture that fosters independence from AACPS administrators, establishes clear and enforceable ethical guidelines, respects internal dissent, and promotes transparency and accountability to the students CRASC leaders claim to represent.

For a case study of the interactions between CRASC leadership and AACPS administrators, I’d point you to my report, “AACPS Thumbs Its Nose on Maryland’s Vague and Meaningless Ban on Using Government Resources for Political Activity” (see I’d also encourage you to contrast the way County Executive Schuh vs. Assistant Superintendent Pelham responded to a Public Information Act request forresponsive emails.

Capital Editorial

Editorial, Our say: Schuh must respect constituents who disagree, Capital, November 3, 2015.

Snider Comment

I am not a big fan of these “bad manners” types of political arguments.  In my opinion, the type of people who promote them publicly tend to be the most ruthless people in politics. When this political card is played, the Capital should be warier than it has been in picking it up.  We have enough House of Cards politics in Anne Arundel County.  There is nothing intrinsically bad about bad manners articles as long as they are combined with a substantive analysis of the supposed subject of the bad manners.  But that was completely missing in this editorial and the accompanying reporting.

For an example of how AACPS has previously played the student lobbying card, see my report “AACPS Thumbs Its Nose on Maryland’s Vague and Meaningless Ban on Using Government Resources for Political Activity” (available at

Capital News Article

Huang, Cindy, and Rema Rahman, Students advocate for teacher salaries, Capital, November 1, 2015.

Snider Comment

“During working hours, school employees are not allowed to talk to students or distribute information about disputes the employees have with the board, the superintendent or the school system. Employees who violate that school board policy could be suspended or fired, depending on the severity of the offense.” 

Yes, but they may be discreetly encouraged to lobby other public officials, such as the County Executive or Maryland General Assembly, on behalf of school employees. Note that the AACPS policy doesn’t explicitly ban those types of interactions between students and staff. The Capital wrote the story as if it did, but it doesn’t, although it’s arguably implicit. For a hint of how this can work out in AACPS, read my 41-page report, “AACPS Thumbs Its Nose on Maryland’s Vague and Meaningless Ban on Using Government Resources for Political Activity” (see The relevant law here really isn’t AACPS policy but state statute, which nominally bans the use of government resources for political activity. However, this law is rarely if ever enforced. Such behavior has been repeatedly brought to the attention of both the school board and county council. However, neither conducts traditional legislative oversight hearings with regard to the school system, believing that oversight is the superintendent’s responsibility. Privately, I’m told that the issue is politically too hot for any Anne Arundel public official to handle. My sense is that there is a general understanding that it would be political suicide to raise the issue publicly. It is thus remarkable that the County Executive has at least implicitly raised the issue here.