[This is a compendium of Jim Snider’s periodic messages to Anne Arundel Countywide CAC members.  The original was posted on Anne Arundel Countywide Citizen Advisory Committee, 2010-11]

To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: February 24, 2011
Subject: Countywide CAC election results for the open officer positions

This evening the Countywide CAC voted for new officers and elected Joanna Conti as Countywide CAC Chair and Carol Dillon Kissal as Vice Chair.  I wish them both the best in their new positions.The next meeting of the Countywide CAC is scheduled for Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm.Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help move this process forward.

To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: February 20, 2011
Subject: Countywide CAC Survey, HB220, Countywide CAC Facebook Group, Farewell Message

In my last email to you as a Countywide CAC officer, I’m covering a
variety of miscellaneous topics: 1) the recently released survey of
Countywide CAC reps by AACPS, 2) the Anne Arundel Delegation to the
House of Delegates passage of HB220, 3) the launch of the Countywide
CAC Facebook Group, 4) my Farewell message, and 5) February 24, 2011

1)  Countywide CAC survey results from AACPS

On February 17, 2011 AACPS released the results of its Countywide CAC
survey.  Remarkably, 108 of the 110 people who received
the survey filled it out—possibly a world record for a response rate
(over 98%), and an approximately 2,700% increase in response rate from
the last Countywide CAC survey sent out by AACPS (only four replies
were received).  The high response rate is testament to the high
importance that the Board of Education attached to this survey.  For
example, multiple emails were sent to principals to make sure they got
surveys from their local Countywide CAC rep by February 4, 2011.   If
you want to get a good sense of the Board’s views, I’d suggest looking
at the comments featured at the top of the comments section.  My own
comments were submitted to AACPS on February 4, 2011
summarized to you in my letter to you dated February 6, 2011 (see the February 6 letter below).

I’d like to here focus on just one striking result, the answer to
question #9, which addressed who should control CAC communications.
Among the three listed options, there was no option to allow the
Countywide CAC to control its own communications, unless the ambiguous
“D. None of the above,” was intended for that option.  As a result,
100% of the respondents (except those who responded “None of the
above”) endorsed giving either the AACPS Public Information Office
(79)  or AACPS Office of School and Family Partnerships (26)
substantial or complete control over Countywide CAC communications.
Another problem with the wording of the options was that by creating separate options for the AACPS Public Information Office and Office of
School and Family Partnerships, the question implies that the
communications of those two offices are fundamentally separate.  In my
experience, however, the Public Information Office and AACPS Office of
School and Family Partnerships coordinate very closely on CAC
communications.  For example, when I’ve requested (and not necessarily
gotten) changes to the Countywide CAC webpage on AACPS.org, the
request has gone through the Office of School and Family Partnerships
but been forwarded to the person in the AACPS Public Information
Office who actually maintains the CAC web pages.But the biggest problem with the question wording is that it doesn’t clearly specify the extent to which the relationship between the Countywide CAC and the AACPS Public Information Office is envisaged to
be mandatory or voluntary; that is, the extent to which the Public
Information Office would have editorial control of the messaging.   If
there is no difference in desired messaging between the Board and
Countywide CAC, it is a delight and welcome convenience to use the
extraordinary resources of the AACPS Public Information Office.  The
problem arises when there is a difference, even a slight difference.
Then the Countywide CAC officer may find himself cast into a
Kafkaesque or even worse nightmare, which I would not want to wish on
any future Countywide CAC officer.

2)   HB220 / SB78

 On February 17, 2011, the Anne Arundel Delegation to the Maryland
House of Delegates unanimously approved HB220 (the same bill as SB78),
which mandates that incumbent school board members to win an
additional term must go through the SBNC nominating process as well as
win a retention vote.  This would overturn the Maryland Attorney
General’s opinion last spring that incumbents did not have to either
get renominated by the SBNC or be reappointed by Maryland’s governor,
only win a retention vote to seek re-election.  Given the partisan
nature of most Delegation debates on the SBNC as well as that a large
majority of the school board members individually opposed passage of
the bill (although collectively the school board took no position),
the unanimous vote in favor of HB220 is remarkable.   More votes on
SBNC bills will be coming up over the coming weeks.  My testimony in
favor of HB220/SB78 can be found here.

3)  Countywide CAC Facebook Group

As my last action implementing a new social media platform for the
Countywide CAC, I’ve set up a Countywide CAC Facebook group. I would
suggest that future Countywide CAC officers restrict the Google
discussion forum to former and current Countywide CAC reps and
officers, and use the open Facebook Group as a vehicle for anyone in
the community to get notice of educational events sponsored by the
Countywide CAC.  Facebook has an excellent event notifier and can help
foster user friendly citizen-to-citizen communications in a way that
isn’t practical for a group-based tool such as the Countywide
discussion forum.  You will shortly receive a message inviting you to
attend the February 24, 2011 Countywide CAC meeting.  Those who RSVP
will have their names listed on the Facebook event page.  Please sign
up for the Facebook Group, which is located here:

4)  Farewell Message

During my brief tenure leading the Countywide CAC, I’ve tried to
facilitate an orderly transition to new Countywide CAC leadership
while addressing some of the underlying problems that led to the need
for a transition in the first place.  I hope that I have contributed
in at least some small part to the Countywide CAC’s accomplishments
over the last four months.  In my judgement, these include the

a)      Shifting the Countywide CAC’s social media platform from Yahoo to
Google, with many new social media tools.

b)      Launching the Countywide CAC’s own formal and public membership
list, a critical step in bolstering the Countywide CAC’s democratic

c)      Educating the Countywide CAC about its changing regulatory history
from 1970 to the present.

d)      Designing and implementing a comprehensive survey of current
practices and desired policies relating to AACPS Administrative
Regulation 501.01; that is, the AACPS CAC regulations.  (In
preparation for the candidates’ forum, I hope those attending the
February 24, 2011 Countywide CAC meeting will read or reread that
survey, available at www.survey.aacac.info.)

e)      Getting unprecedented attendance of senior AACPS staff and school
board members at the November 18, 2010 Countywide CAC meeting,
indicative of the acute attention they have given to the policy
recommendations and other communications generated by the Countywide
CAC, especially the survey administered to Countywide CAC members at
the Countywide CAC’s November 18, 2010 meeting.

f)      Getting the Board of Education to commit to rewriting the
Countywide CAC regulations by the end of this school year.

g)      Getting the Board of Education to survey the Countywide CAC (see my
comments above on the survey as implemented).

h)      Helping to foster discussion of many specific policies that could
be incorporated as part of the rewrite of Countywide CAC regulations.

Needless to say, my effort to strengthen the Countywide CAC as an
institution came at a price.  Although the Board gave overt support to
this effort, its displeasure behind the scenes was evident.  This
resulted in my having to face many minor bureaucratic hassles, which
consumed a majority of the time I allocated to the Countywide CAC.
This is why I have recommended that the involvement of the Board and
its staff in the Countywide CAC’s daily operations should be kept to a
minimum.  It can be very tempting to accept this help because when the
Board and staff want to be helpful, they can be incredibly helpful and
do almost all your work.  Still, the temptation to accept this
kindness should be resisted when it comes at a very high price.

Managing the relationship with the Board is a delicate process, one of
those sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t relationships.
The Countywide CAC cannot be effective in pursuing the parents’
interests unless it has the ear of the Board.  But if in order to get
the Board’s ear it feels it must become the Board’s arm, then having
the Board’s ear becomes worthless.

Each set of Countywide CAC officers must calibrate the extent to which
they want the Countywide CAC to be an arm of its members rather than
the Board.  Following Dr. Tom Frank, I chose to try to shift the
calibration towards independence of the Board.  Others in the future
will surely seek a different calibration.

Of course, there were many things I would have liked to accomplish but
did not.  I was elected to the position of vice chair last March with
the promise that I would create a new social media platform for the
Countywide CAC.  I eventually did so, but the platform  I created was
hampered by, among other things, an assumption that the current AACPS
ban on the Countywide CAC raising money for communications would
remain, which ruled out more powerful web hosted platforms based on
open source software such as Drupal or WordPress.  Due to time
constraints, I also decided to abandon certain goals, such as a
planned online Countywide CAC poll using Google Forms and a wiki for
citizens to factually describe and document the repairs needed at
their local school facilities.

Next weekend I’m attending a Knight Foundation conference in Miami on
“The Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.”  Prior to
serving as a Countywide CAC officer, I served on the Knight
Foundation’s Advisory Committee for its report: “The Information Needs
of Communities in a Democracy: Informing Communities, Sustaining
Democracy in the Digital Age.”   The state of local media and civic
life is sad not only in Anne Arundel County but in many other parts of
the country.  It’s been my hope that the Countywide CAC could pick up
some of the slack in informing and empowering parents.  But, as the
U.S. Founders who in the 18th century drafted the First Amendment
believed, hoping an arm of a government body could take on such an
information task may have been a pipedream.

5)  February 24, 2011

I wish the next set of Countywide CAC officers well, and I hope they
will try to strengthen the Countywide CAC as a voice for citizens.
Please try to come to the candidates’ forum and election for those
officers at the next Countywide CAC meeting on February 24, 2011.
Based on my analysis of the politics, I’d guess that the next set of
Countywide CAC officers will be heaped with influence and praise, so
if you want to make a difference, I’d suggest it is an excellent time
for you to consider running for one of the open Countywide CAC officer


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: February 15, 2011
Subject: The Countywide CAC’s Agenda

I’ve been asked to justify why Countywide CAC members should be
interested in the School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) and the
rewrite of Countywide CAC regulations. Here is my response:

I’ve been providing news about the SBNC on the Countywide CAC
discussion forum and on my local feeder system CAC discussion forum
since the Maryland General Assembly passed the statute creating the
SBNC in 2007 (see www.myaacps.net for my posts on this subject to the
CAC). Indeed, a large fraction of the original text posted on the
Countywide CAC discussion forum since 2007 has concerned the SBNC.

Prior to the advent of the School Board Nominating Commission in 2007,
the School Board Nominating Convention was for at least two decades
considered to be of great interest to Countywide CAC members. Indeed,
many members of the old School Board Nominating Convention used to be
Countywide CAC members.

The Maryland General Assembly created both the Countywide CAC and SBNC
so that stakeholder groups, including parents, could have a democratic
voice in AACPS. For example, one of the seats on the SBNC is
allocated to the president of the countywide PTA. The Countywide CAC
was not granted a seat on the SBNC, but I believe it has as great if
not greater interest in the SBNC as the countywide PTA. More
generally, if one is interested in AACPS policy, one has to be
interested in the SBNC because the SBNC chooses the leaders who will
determine that policy.

Indicative of the synergy between the Countywide CAC and the SBNC is
that the last two people who competed for the position of the
Countywide CAC chair, Janet Pogar and Tom Frank, had both previously
run for School Board via the SBNC. These and many other Countywide
CAC members have privately contacted me over the years seeking
information about the operation of the SBNC. I believe this is
indicative of a general lack of news and other coverage of the SBNC
based on firsthand observations. For example, last spring the
Capital education reporter was leaving the Capital and attended only a
small fraction of SBNC meetings, and the Baltimore Sun and Washington
Post have never covered the SBNC.

Last fall Countywide CAC Chair Tom Frank wanted to hold a candidate
debate for the four school board members appointed by the SNBC since
2009 and on the ballot for a retention vote. When the legislature
sold the SBNC legislation to the public in 2007, one of its major
selling points was that it would create a retention election where the
public would be given a direct voice in the election of school board
members. But in fall 2010, when this theory could first be tested in
a significant way, there was not a single newspaper article or forum
on the four candidates. Dr. Frank sought to fill that information gap
but was told by the president of the Board of Education that he would
not be allowed to do so.

Also indicative of the close relationship between the Countywide CAC
and the SBNC is the history of the CAC system. One reason that the
Maryland General Assembly in 1970 mandated that Anne Arundel County be
the only county in Maryland with a mandated CAC system is that Anne
Arundel County had an appointed school board. With an elected school
board, a CAC system serves a less important democratic role. If the
General Assembly decided to mandate a completely elected school board,
I think it would be much less of an issue if the CAC system were
designed to operate as that board’s mouthpiece and support system.

The rewrite of the Countywide CAC regulations involves a process
rather than substantive issue. A process issue, such as the design of
a constitution or set of bylaws, relates to the fundamental allocation
of power and method by which substantive decisions are decided. A
substantive issue is one, such as school start times and class size,
which can have a direct impact on your child.

One argument for focusing on process at this time is that until the
process problems are solved, the Countywide CAC cannot function as an
effective organization representing the parents. In recent years, I
believe that school board members have held the Countywide CAC in low
repute and ignored its substantive recommendations—few as they have
been–on the grounds that it was unrepresentative of the public and
ineffective at aggregating parental opinion.

In order to win back the School Board’s respect, I believe that a top
priority of the Countywide CAC should be to strengthen itself as an
institution. Note that I’m making a distinction here between being
effective and being liked. If the Countywide CAC leadership is to
serve the interests of the parents, I believe its goal should be to be
effective. I have no objection if the School Board wants to bestow
public honors on Countywide CAC officers. But such honors should not
come at the expense of the Countywide CAC’s effectiveness as an

Another reason for focusing on process issues at this time is that the
school board has announced that the rewrite of the Countywide CAC
regulations will be finished by the end of this school year.

Lastly, I’m a political scientist by training, as well as a former
school board member (in another state), and have believed that I have
valuable insights to share about how the Countywide CAC could be
strengthened as an institution.

Nevertheless, I want to acknowledge that substantive concerns, not
process concerns, will always be the driving force that gets parents
to participate in the Countywide CAC. Process issues are merely a
means to more effectively pursue the substantive issues that have a
direct and immediate effect on the wellbeing of your children.

To help pursue such substantive concerns, I’ve suggested that the
Countywide CAC periodically poll its members and even the parents more
generally. I’ve also suggested creating a grassroots agenda setting
tool (see www.agenda.aacac.info for my very primitive version of such
a tool) so that the Countywide CAC leadership can be more confident
that an issue has some popular support before putting it on the

The unfortunate reality is that the Countywide CAC can only be
effective in pursuing a small number of substantive issues in any
given school year. Therefore, it must husband its resources
carefully. I would encourage the Countywide CAC’s future leadership
to focus those resources on substantive issues where it can make a
distinctive contribution to the public policy agenda and not merely
join the chorus of other voices.

Let’s hope that at the next Countywide CAC meeting on February 24,
2011 we have good weather and a good turnout for the candidates’ forum
and election of new Countywide CAC officers. Let’s also hope that all
those people waiting in the wings until the last possible moment to
see who else in running for those offices will eventually decide to
step forward so we can have a robust debate about the future direction
of the Countywide CAC during the candidates’ forum.

Thank you to those who got back to me, in response to my last post to
this forum, with updated information about Countywide CAC membership.
I have posted this information to the Countywide CAC membership wiki.

Please continue to send membership updates to snider@aacac.info. The
updated membership list will be included as part of the signin sheet
at the February 24 meeting.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: February 6, 2011
Subject: Updates: School Board Nominating Commission and AACPS Rewrite of CAC Regulations

During the first few weeks of this legislative session, Maryland’s
General Assembly has introduced more legislation to reform the School
Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) than at any time since it was
created in 2007. A total of 7 bills have been introduced in the
House and Senate to reform the School Board Nominating Commission (see
HB78, HB220, HB399, SB78, SB114, SB259, and SB277). The one I like
the most is SB114, largely because it attempts to codify the current
scattered rules concerning the SBNC. I believe it is an important
democratic principle that the public should be able to understand the
laws under which it is governed. This is currently impossible with
the SBNC because the key laws are scattered in so many different
places, including inaccessible minutes, bylaws, opinions by Maryland’s
Attorney General, and Board of Election rulings. Codifying them in a
citizen friendly format is a very worthy goal for the legislature to
take upon itself.

This year only one School Board member’s term is expiring.
Applications to fill openings have traditionally been due to the SBNC
by April 30. Given the Maryland Attorney General’s ruling last spring
that incumbent members of the School Board would no longer have to go
through the SBNC nomination process or get appointed by the Governor
in order to seek reappointment (they must still face a retention
election, however), I suspect that the SBNC will be relatively dormant
in the future. This is the first year since it was created that the
SBNC has not met in January. No public announcement of its first
meeting date has been made.

Since the Board of Education announced on November 18, 2010 that it
would be rewriting the CAC regulations prior to the end of this year,
I have offered to meet the Board on multiple occasions to discuss the
rewrite. I have not heard back from them. But on January 20, 2011,
Superintendent Kevin Maxwell sent out a survey to Countywide CAC reps
to provide a foundation for the announced rewrite. Survey responses
were due by Friday, February 4.

I did not initially receive a copy of the survey but subsequently
received one and was told that, as the Countywide CAC Chair, I would
be allowed to submit my personal responses. I have done so and am
sharing my responses with you here.

Please let me know if you are currently a Countywide CAC rep and did
not receive the survey or are not a Countywide CAC rep and did receive
it. I currently know of at least one Countywide CAC rep who did not
receive one and one person who was not a Countywide CAC rep who did
receive one. I have been told that the problem with these individuals
has been corrected, but it is possible that other problems with the
Countywide CAC rep mailing list haven’t been identified. In addition,
following past practice, non-regular schools such as Chesapeake
Science Point, Ruth Eason, and Phoenix Center were apparently not

Attached below, sorted by school, is the mailing list of Countywide
CAC reps that I believe was used for purposes of the survey. It
includes 112 (of 121) AACPS schools, including the names of 109
Countywide CAC reps. Please note that I was not consulted prior to
the use of this list, that in using it AACPS disregarded the
Countywide CAC Chair’s request that the AACPS membership wiki (see
wiki.aacac.info) be used as the official membership list for the
Countywide CAC, that AACPS has been adding and dropping Countywide CAC
reps without informing the Countywide CAC Chair, and that in using it
AACPS disregarded some of the feedback from the Countywide CAC at its
November 18, 2010 meeting (see survey.aacac.info).

Annapolis ES, Ms. Sarah Williamson
Annapolis HS, Ms. Amy Daniels
Annapolis MS, None
Arnold ES, Ms Kerry Petz
Arundel HS, Ms. Kerri Barbour
Arundel MS, Ms. Kristen Pridgen
Bates Middle, Ms Elizabeth Taylor
Belle Grove ES, Ms. Melissa Pardoe
Belvedere ES, Ms. Dawn Orso
Benfield ES, Ms. Anne Rutherford
Bodkin ES, Mr. Mark Benson
Broadneck ES, Mr. Daryl Cooke
Broadneck HS, Ms. Donna Lanonue
Brock Bridge ES, None
Brooklyn Park MS, Ms. Fran Nobile
Brooklyn Park ES, Ms. Lori Marine
Cape St. Claire ES, Ms. Heather Kilpatrick
Central ES, Mr. Tom Daily
Central MS, Ms. Christina Feidel
Central Special, Ms. Laura Austin
Chesapeake Bay MS, Ms.Debi Konczos
Chesapeake HS, Ms. Vicki Lines
Corkran MS, Ms. Robin Wojciechowski
Crofton ES, Ms. Rebecca Baltimore
Crofton Meadows ES, Ms. Basil Parlett
Crofton Middle, None
Crofton Woods ES, Mr. Venice Alexanders
Davidsonville ES, Ms. Beverly Cauley
Deale ES, Ms. Marianne Rude
Eastport ES, Ms. Jody Leddy
Edgewater ES, Ms. Mariem LeFevers
Ferndale Early Educ. Center, Ms. Stacy Heath
Folger McKinsey ES, Mr. Dave Fortier
Fort Smallwood ES, Ms.Sharon English
Four Seasons ES, Ms. Meredith Long
Freetown ES, Ms. Lillian Caldwell
George Cromwell ES, Ms. Stacy Heath
George Fox Middle, Ms. Tracy Hartzell
Georgetown East ES, Ms. Jennifer Rafiq
Germantown ES, Ms. Ingrid Antonelli
Glen Burnie HS, Ms. Janet Pogar
Glen Burnie Park ES, Ms. Mary Kummer
Glendale ES, Ms. Dottie Moore
Hebron-Harman ES, Ms. Denise Spencer
High Point ES, Ms. Lanea Kirwan
Hillsmere ES, Ms. Jennifer Barrett
Hilltop ES, Ms.Marilynn Simmons
Jacobsville ES, Ms. Cecilia Fleig
Jessup ES, Ms. Ruth Lurz
Jones ES, Ms. Belinda Sloat
Lake Shore ES, Ms. Karen Hamstra
Lindale MS, Ms. Karen Cole
Linthicum ES, Mr. Craig Harden
Lothian ES, Ms. Lindy Marks
MacArthur MS, Mr. Steve Clouse
Magothy MS, Ms. Karyn Bristow
Manor View ES, Ms. Kim Walton
Marley ES, Mr. William “Rocky” Matthews
Marley MS, Ms. Lisa Heyward
Maryland City ES, Ms. Melissa McDonald
Mayo ES, Ms. Theresa Goughenour
Meade Heights ES, Ms. Kendra Keith
Meade HS, Otha iller
Meade Middle, Ms. Karen Carter
Millersville ES, Ms. Monica McGirt
Mills/Parole ES, Ms. Roxanne Simms
Monarch Academy, Ms. Veronica Williams
Nantucket ES, Mr. Kevin McCoy
North County HS, Ms. Joetta Sterrett
North Glen ES, Destin Ford
Northeast HS, Mr. Philip Kijak
Oak Hill ES, Ms. Chevese Turner
Oakwood ES, Ms. Jessica Lewis
Odenton ES, Ms. Marynard Hendershot
Old Mill HS, Ms. Kere Boyd
Old Mill MS – N, Ms. Donna Van Dine
Old Mill MS – S, Ms. Annie Medford
Overlook ES, Ms. Stephanie Doersam
Park ES, Ms. Juanita Cole
Pasadena ES, Ms. Gina Gabrielsen
Pershing Hill ES, Ms. Amy Morgan
Piney Orchard ES, Ms. Stephanie Mutchler
Point Pleasant ES, Ms. Barbara Holcomb
Quarterfield ES, Ms. Rae Gray
Richard Henry Lee ES, Ms. Laurie Dietrich
Ridgeway ES, Mr. Don Winkler
Rippling Woods ES, Mr. Chris Steelman
Riviera Beach ES, Ms. Clarrisa Keefe
Rolling Knolls ES, Ms. Elizabeth King
Seven Oaks ES,. Ms. David Kuye
Severn ES, Ms. Mauria Schafer
Severn River Middle, Ms. Antoinette Barckley-Hines
Severna Park ES, Ms. Cathy Demeroto
Severna Park HS, Ms. Terra Snider
Severna Park MS, Mr. Brad Myers
Shady Side ES, Ms. Nicole Vales
Shipley’s Choice ES, Ms. Leslie Wallace
Solley ES, Ms. Melissa Leverrett
South River HS, Mr. Eric Sullivan
South Shore ES, Ms. Michelle Cote
Southern HS, Mr. David Stinson
Southern MS, Ms.Carol Dillion
Southgate ES, Ms. Kim Barber
Sunset ES, Alide Giunta
Tracey’s ES, Mr. Richard Bly
Tyler Heights ES, Ms. Kimberly Sims
Van Bokkelen ES, Ms. Janea Milburn
Waugh Chapel ES, Ms. Kellie Ramey
West Annapolis ES, Ms.Elizabeth Taylor
West Meade ES, Ms. Debbie Trendle
Windsor Farm ES, Ms. Marjorie Craig
Woodside ES, Ms. Belynda Thomas

If you believe there are any mistakes on this list or if you have
names of Countywide CAC reps at AACPS schools not included here,
please email me at snider@aacac.info. I cannot maintain an accurate
membership list without your help. Please do not send routine
administrative matters such as membership changes to the entire
Countywide CAC discussion forum. I hope that the future leadership of
the Countywide CAC will coordinate directly with local CAC chairs to
help maintain accurate membership information. The current
authoritative compendium of Countywide CAC membership information is
maintained on the Countywide CAC membership wiki.

Please mark on your calendar that the next Countywide CAC meeting, to
hold elections for Countywide CAC officers, will be held on February
24, 2011 at 7:00 pm. I encourage all of you to consider running for
one of the open positions.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 27, 2011
Subject: Countywide CAC meeting originally scheduled for tonight is cancelled

Due to the Code Red alert closing down all AACPS schools and central 
offices, the Countywide CAC meeting originally scheduled for this
evening has been cancelled. The next Countywide CAC meeting will take
place at its regularly scheduled time in February on the fourth
Thursday of the month; that is, February 24, 2011. Elections for
Countywide CAC officers will take place at that time.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 24, 2011
Subject: Countywide CAC election on January 27, 2011 and survey on November 18, 2010

This is a reminder that at the January 27, 2011 Countywide CAC meeting
new Countywide CAC officers will be elected. The meeting will be held
in the Board Room at Riva Road and start at 7:00 pm.

The January 27 meeting will start with a review of the election
procedures and forum format. The format for the candidate forum will
be loosely modeled after the old School Board Nominating Convention.
All candidates for vice-chair or chair will be asked to sit together
in front of the audience. Only after the forum is finished will
candidates be asked to commit to whether they are running for chair or
vice-chair. Candidates will be asked to make brief opening comments
as to why they are interested in running for a Countywide CAC officer
position. The length of time given for opening statements may depend
on the number of people who announce their candidacies at the last
minute. But a minimum of three minutes will be granted to each
candidate. Audience members will then be allowed to ask the
candidates questions. This is an opportunity for Countywide CAC
members to ask questions about the issues dearest to themselves as
well as get a good sense of who the candidates are as people and what
their agendas are for the Countywide CAC. At the end of the forum,
candidates will be given several minutes each to make closing comments
and state which office they are running for. The forum will end by
8:30 pm, to be followed by voting. The election for Countywide CAC
chair will be held first. Candidates who don’t win the position of
chair will be given the opportunity to run for vice-chair. If the
secretary chooses to run for chair and/or vice-chair and is elected to
either vice-chair or chair, that Countywide officer position will also
be open.

At the moment, no individual has publicly announced that he or she is
running for chair or vice-chair. However, not too much should be read
into the absence of a public announcement. Most candidates decide
that they have nothing to gain by making an advance announcement and
wait until the last moment to size up the other candidates and the
audience present before making a final decision. My judgment is that
there are at least four individuals interested in becoming a
Countywide CAC officer and that at least two will throw their hats
into the ring on the evening of January 27, 2011. I hope all of you
will consider running for at least one of the open Countywide CAC
officer positions. If you feel after the forum discussion that a
Countywide CAC officer position is not for you, you can still drop out
of the election at that point.

I am also including here a link to my writeup of the survey I
conducted at the November 18, 2010 Countywide CAC meeting (see
www.survey.aacac.info; requires Adobe Acrobat to read). That survey
had to be significantly abbreviated due to a lack of time. I have
included both the questions I asked and got answers to as well as the
questions I didn’t have time to ask. I’ve also appended the survey
questions I wanted to ask in my online survey. I ran out of time and
so decided not to administer any surveys online. I hope you will at
least skim this document prior to the January 27, 2011 meeting as it
may give you ideas for questions to ask during the candidates forum.

I would encourage future Countywide CAC officers to administer
annually a fall and spring survey to Countywide CAC members. I
believe that Google Forms is an adequate tool for such purposes. I
would further suggest that each cluster/regional CAC be granted the
opportunity to include three questions on the survey instrument,
perhaps one question each allocated to elementary, middle, and high
school local CACs.

Last Thursday AACPS announced that it would be conducting its own CAC
survey (see link here). I applaud this effort but would encourage
AACPS to administer any survey to a random sample of all parents in
AACPS. The Countywide CAC lacks the resources, including the email
addresses, to conduct such a scientific survey. Previously, AACPS
surveys have suffered from unacceptably high levels of self-selection
bias. Response rates of under 10% have been common for targeted
populations such as high school parents. The last AACPS survey
administered to local CAC chairs received only four responses, a
response rate of under 5%. I would encourage AACPS to ask a question
on its survey concerning whether a survey administered by the
Countywide CAC would have more legitimacy in the eyes of the parents
than one administred by AACPS.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the January 27,
2011 Countywide CAC meeting.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 16, 2011
Subject: School Board Nominating Commission Update

In past years, the School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) has had
its first meeting in late January. The SBNC nominates two individuals
for each open position on the Anne Arundel school board. The governor
must then choose from among those two candidates. This year there is
one opening on the School Board: Victor Bernson’s seat. No meeting
date has yet been publicly announced for this year.

From its first meeting on January 18, 2008 (publicly announced only
two days before), I have covered SBNC meetings (see myaacps.net for my
reports), but no longer want to do so and hope that someone else will
take on the task. Unfortunately, the press has not made SBNC coverage
a priority. Last year the Capital reporter was moving on to a new job
and didn’t even attend most of the meetings, with the reports in the
newspaper derived from post-meeting conversations with the SBNC’s
chair. Nor does the SBNC’s website pick up the slack. For example,
it is virtually impossible for a reasonably diligent citizen to
understand how the SBNC actually works from reading that website.

I hope that a future Countywide CAC officer will attend SBNC meetings
and report on them for the benefit of Countywide CAC members. The PTA
not only sends a representative to all SBNC meetings but actually
serves on the SBNC as a voting member.

I also hope all Countywide CAC members will consider running not only
for Countywide CAC officer but also for school board member.
Applications to be nominated by the SBNC have generally been due
around April 1.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 12, 2011
Subject: Notice of two upcoming polls and miscelleneous other items,
    including further thoughts on Countywide CAC membership forms and fees

During my last few weeks as a Countywide CAC officer, I want to shift
the focus away from this discussion forum to the two online surveys I
plan to send the local CAC chairs and Countywide CAC reps. The first
survey will be experimental and relatively brief. Be prepared for
some technological glitches, as I figure out how to do this. The
second survey will cover countywide CAC regulations and hopefully lay
a foundation for the rewrite of those regulations. That survey will
take a substantial amount of time to fill out–probably more than a
half hour to fill out the multiple choice answers and possibly
additional time to fill out the open-ended questions. The results of
that survey will be posted on a special website, which will allow for
additional feedback. If you have limited time to devote to the
Countywide CAC, please focus on answering the surveys, especially the
second survey.

I hope that as many people as possible will run for the open
Countywide CAC officer positions on January 27. My guess is that at
least three or four people will be throwing their hats into the ring
at the last minute. I believe that Countywide CAC democracy would be
strengthened if people announced their plans and circulated their
credentials and goals to Countywide CAC members prior to January 27.
But right now I don’t see that happening.

In an op-ed in the Capital today, school board member Debbie Ritchie
reacted skeptically to Tom Frank’s and my characterization of the
Board’s agenda setting activities but shared the goal of a strong
parental voice in the public schools. Her description of the other
AACPS parental organizations, including the Parent Involvement
Advisory Council, Special Education Citizen Advisory Committee, and
PTAs, raises the important question what niche the CACs should fill.

On the question of getting membership data and a fee from local CACs,
here is how I’d conceptualize the issue (and please remember that
this, like most of what I write, is just a suggestion, something just
to get ideas flowing and certainly not anything I intend to implement–
or even have the right to implement): Officers of any organization
take on certain responsibilities. For a local CAC chair, I believe it
is reasonable to have the following two responsibilities: 1) notify
the Countywide CAC of your election and the election of all other CAC
officers at your school, and 2) raise $1 (or any other amount agreed
to by the members of the Countywide CAC) to maintain the
communications infrastructure supporting the Countywide CAC.
Compared to the fundraising and paperwork responsibilities of being a
local PTA president, I believe such responsibilities would be

Another fundraising approach (once again, just an idea) would be to
have a raffle at one or more well attended Countywide CAC events.
This is a common strategy civic groups use to raise money. Attendees
are asked when they enter if they want to join a raffle. Half the
proceeds can go to the winner and half to the sponsoring
organization. I would suggest that the Countywide CAC try to host one
or more well attended educational events per year. For example, in
late May I would suggest an annual event featuring public budget
officials to educate the parents on the budget for the upcoming year.
The purpose of this event would not be to influence the budget
(unlike, say, the school board budget hearings every January) but to
explain to parents the effects the newly passed budget is likely to
have on their school in the coming year; for example, how a decrease
in headcount will increase class size and eliminate curriculum choices
with small student enrollments.

I hope you’ll share your thoughts on these matters with the incoming
Countywide CAC leadership as they modernize the CAC regulations to
strengthen the voice of the parents and the community.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 8, 2011
Subject: CAC surveys, custom URL, membership forms, and fees

Using Google Forms, I hope to send out the first poll to Countywide
CAC members in the next few days. I believe this is a powerful type
of technology that should be used by future Countywide CAC officers to
solicit parental views. Although powerful online polling technology
has been available for some years, only recently has such technology
been available for free, which I consider a prerequisite for use by
the Countywide CAC.

The Google Forms tool has some significant advantages over the Google
Moderator tool (the tool that I call the “Countywide CAC Agenda
Requester”) in that it should generate more representative,
comprehensive, and timely feedback from CAC members. I hope that the
type of tools illustrated by Google Moderator and Google Forms will be
eventually used in tandem. Google Moderator could be used to help
identify questions parents think are important and want surveyed. If
enough people agree with them, then those questions could be added to
a Google Forms survey of the broader Countywide CAC membership. I
plan to ask some of the questions you’ve asked me on the survey

I’d like to get feedback from you on what you think of creating a
nominal Countywide CAC membership fee such as $1/year per local CAC.
Here is my reasoning, in brief: A lot of useful civic tools, such as
the Google suite of online tools, used to cost a lot of money and are
now free. But some valuable tools necessarily cost money. An example
would be a custom URL for websites and email addresses. An example of
a custom website is www.aacac.info and email
countywideCACrep@aacac.info. The PTA and just about every other civic
organization I belong to has some type of membership fee so that the
organization can afford the basic necessities, such as conveniently
communicating with its members, to fulfill its mission. Thanks to
new information technology, the cost of such communication has now
plummeted. Still, a custom URL with an adequate webhosting service
costs about $80/year.

I also believe the Countywide CAC needs to develop a formalized way
for local CACs to designate representatives to the Countywide CAC.
Filling out and signing a membership form, along with a $1/year fee
per local CAC, would be such a formal mechanism. Currently, it is
very hard for the Countywide CAC to keep track of whom are the
official local CAC officials, which is one reason the current CAC
regulations have had to be ignored: you cannot enforce a voting
eligibility rule if you don’t know who is eligible to vote.
This proposal, if it were popular, would have to be implemented by the
next set of Countywide CAC officers. Still, I think it would be
useful to have a debate about it now.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: January 4, 2011
Subject: The first set of CAC regulations in 1973 and related Capital commentary

A number of Countywide CAC representatives have asked me how the
original AACPS CAC regulations from 1973 differ from those today. In
response, I have outlined below the structure of the regulations
AACPS passed in 1973 to help implement the Maryland General
Assembly’s 1970 mandate that Anne Arundel County develop such a
system. I have previously written and posted a link to this forum a
brief history of Maryland’s CAC regulations (See CAC laws/regulations
at www.aacac.info).


Local CACs

1) Every school in the county would have a local CAC committee
consisting of seven members: a teacher appointed by the faculty and
six elected citizens who could not be AACPS employees.

2) Any member of the local CAC committee who failed to attend three
regularly scheduled meetings in succession without a valid excuse
would be considered to have resigned from the committee and notified
in writing.

3) Elections for the six local CAC committee members of the committee
would take place at a widely promoted election during the month of

4) At the May meeting, the local school CAC committee would elect a
chair, vice-chair, and representative to the regional CAC committee.

Regional CACs


5) The regional CAC committee would consist of the elected
representatives from each of the local CAC committees in its feeder

6) At its June meeting, the regional CAC committee would elect its
chair and vice-chair.


Countywide CAC

7) The Countywide CAC committee would consist of both local and
regional chairs.

8) At its July meeting, the Countywide CAC committee would elect its
chair and vice-chair.

I would suggest that some of the important differences between the
1973 CAC regulations and the current ones are the following:

The elections for CAC officers had a cascading structure, starting
with the election of local CAC committee members in April, followed
by election of local CAC leaders and representatives to the regional
CAC committee in May, followed by election of regional CAC
committee officers in June, and concluding with the election of
Countywide CAC committee officers in July.

The CAC electoral structure was formal, broadly representative, and
logically consistent.

The regional CAC committee was a standing body like today’s local and
Countywide CAC and played an important role in the overall CAC

There was no explicit ban on CAC “lobbying.”

AACPS employees were given one of seven local CAC committee member
slots but banned from running for one of the other six slots.

The regulations were initially drafted by a committee of CAC members
plus only a single member of the board of education.

Whatever you think about the merits of the original CAC system in
comparison to the current one, I think you’d have to agree that is
was more democratic in inspiration, more internally coherent, and
more enforceable because of its greater formality and coherence.

I certainly don’t want to suggest that the 1973 CAC regulations were
perfect. From my perspective, for example, the electoral and
communications technology assumed in the 1973 regulations has become
grossly outdated and thus inappropriate as a model for a rewrite.

I also believe that the hierarchical logic of the original CAC system
should have been implemented more thoroughly, making the regional CAC
chairs the exclusive voting members of the countywide CAC, just as
local CAC representatives were the exclusive voting members of each
regional CAC (I discussed this issue in depth in an earlier email I
sent to this group on December 18, 2010).

The 1973 regulations were also written at a time when there was more
faith than there is today in participatory democracy, including
parental civic involvement in the public schools. I believe that new
information technology has the potential to dramatically reduce
barriers to parental involvement, which makes broadbased parental
participation more practical for giant, dispersed public school
systems such as AACPS (more than 99.5% of U.S. public school systems
are smaller than AACPS). But I also understand that many folks have
far less confidence than I do in the ability and incentive of parents
in such a large school system to act as a constructive force.

I would encourage the next chair of the Countywide CAC, elected on
January 27, 2011, to form a committee to draft a set of bylaws
governing the Countywide CAC’s internal operations. During the last
few months, I have hopefully thrown out a bunch of proposals that
could help guide such a committee. I hope to consolidate these
suggestions in a new, interactive website in the near future. Today’s
Capital also published a related commentary of mine:
Can we strengthen the parents’ voice in education?

Lastly, I would like to reiterate that if candidates for Countywide
CAC officer positions email me by January 22, 2011 a resume
and/or statement summarizing their qualifications to serve as a
Countywide CAC officer, I will post this information on the
www.aacac.info website and send a link to it to all members of
this discussion forum.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: December 22, 2010
Subject: Rewrite of AACPS regulations concerning the rights of CACs

As members of this forum know, on November 18, 2010 the AACPS Board of
Education announced its intent to rewrite its regulations concerning
the Countywide CAC and its member CACs (see link below). Those
regulations can be divided into two parts: 1) regulations concerning
the internal procedures of the CAC system (which constitute the great
bulk of the current regulations), and 2) regulations concerning the
rights of CACs in relation to AACPS.

I have previously recommended that regulations concerning the internal
procedures of the CAC system be shifted to bylaws internal to that
system, as is done with CRASC, the PTA, and the SBNC. To the extent
that the AACPS regulations deal with those issues at all, it could use
standard boilerplace language concerning the internal operations of
independent advisory commissions, committees, and other public
bodies. An example of such boilerplate language would be the

“The Countywide CAC should judge the qualifications of its members;
provide for filling vacancies; select its own officers; set the time,
place, and agenda for its meetings; and generally adopt the rules to
govern its own proceedings.”

This would still leave unresolved the section of AACPS regulations
concerning the rights of CACs. The clear trend over the last thirty
years has been to elaborate on all the things the CACs cannot do
rather than what they can do. This is illustrated in the current
clause that the CACs cannot “lobby.” How this definition of lobbying
relates to the First Amendment’s guarantee that all citizens are
entitled to the right to freedom of speech, assembly, and petition is
not stated. Should citizens lose their First Amendment rights when
they form together as a CAC? If a CAC is strictly defined as an arm
of the Board of Education, I believe the answer would be yes.

To clarify that the Board of Education does not intend to restrict the
public’s First Amendment rights (and I believe that’s its intent), I
suggest that AACPS regulations concerning the CACs shift their current
focus from restricting CAC’s First Amendment rights to guaranteeing
their liberties. For example, I would suggest adding the following
type of clause to the section of the regulations concerning the rights
of CACs:

“With the exception of the cases enumerated below, the Superintendent
and Board of Education will publicly disclose on the AACPS website
their attempts to influence the time, place, and substance of
Countywide CAC meetings, communications, and elections.”

This is similar to many federal laws mandating that registered
lobbyists and other potentially influential political actors
immediately and publicly disclose their efforts to influence public
bodies. They are also akin to laws mandating that members of Congress
(and their staffs) disclose their lobbying of federal agencies.

A more rigorous restriction would be to ban certain types of AACPS
lobbying and efforts to influence Countywide CAC elections. This
would be analogous and symmetrical to the current blanket ban
preventing the Countywide CAC from lobbying in the reverse direction.
But I’m inclined to oppose lobbying bans. My preference, consistent
with the bulk of current laws regarding lobbying, is to focus on
disclosure rather than bans.

I believe it would also be desirable to grant the CACs specific rights
to recruit potential CAC members and communicate with already active
CAC members. This could involve granting the CACs some of the
communication rights already granted the PTAs. It could also include
access to the millions of dollars of video and Internet equipment
AACPS has purchased with PEG monies. The County ordinance allowing
AACPS to spend PEG monies (the County receives about $1.8 million/year
in PEG cable/telco taxes) features the following boilerplate text
(which, in turn, is derived from a Congressional statute specifying
the conditions under which local governments can raise taxes for PEG
funding): “The County intends to ensure that PEG access facilities are
managed in the public interest and that programming using public
access channels is open to all residents and available for all forms
of public expression, community information, and debate of public

The County, to my knowledge, has never taken seriously the intent of
this law to empower civic groups. To be fair, then, some of these
problems need to be addressed by County and Maryland state government
rather than AACPS. For example, all the local libraries in the County
should be modernized to accommodate the communications and community
building needs of civic groups such as CACs. The County has refused
to do this, instead spending more than $1 million of PEG funds to
build a public access center on the outskirts of the County that is
inaccessible and otherwise ill-suited for civic groups. Similarly,
the legislature should redesign school building requirements to ensure
they meet the needs of modern civic groups.

I hope forum members will feel free to discuss their thoughts about
both the strengths and weaknesses of changing AACPS regulations to
bolster the rights of CACs. As always, such a discussion should focus
on the issues and avoid ad hominem attacks. If people feel they
might be personally attacked, they won’t contribute to this forum,
which would defeat its purpose.

Lastly, if by January 22, 2011, candidates for Countywide CAC officer
positions email me a resume and/or statement summarizing their
qualifications to serve as a Countywide CAC officer, I will post this
information on the www.aacac.info website and send a link to it to all
members of this discussion forum.

Enjoy the holiday break!


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: December 18, 2010
Subject: On the Future Composition of the Countywide CAC

On November 18, 2010, the AACPS Board of Education committed itself to
rewriting the regulations concerning citizen advisory committees. I
have previously recommended certain procedures to be followed as part
of that rewrite (see my last email below to the Countywide CAC on December
12). Now I would like to make my first substantive recommendation.
I recommend having the voting members of the Countywide CAC consist of
one representative from each of the 12 feeder systems in the County.
Currently, the Countywide CAC fails to meet democratic norms of
representation for at least two reasons. First, elementary school
students currently have roughly five times the representation on the
Countywide CAC as high school students and 2.5 times the
representation as middle school students. This problem would be
solved because each feeder system is designed to include roughly the
same student population.Second, in recent years the great majority of schools have not had
representation at Countywide CAC meetings. Indeed, it has been rare
for more than 20% of Countywide CAC reps to attend a typical
Countywide CAC meeting. Moreover, representation has been skewed to
schools most conveniently located relatively near the meeting location
at Riva Road. I believe that if the voting for the Countywide CAC was
restricted to representatives from each feeder system that the
percentage of schools that would be represented would be much higher.
Indeed, it might be reasonable to aspire to 100% representation. This
is because of the well known tendency to get much better turnout in a
civic organization as the size of its membership is reduced and each
member has a greater sense of efficacy and awareness that his absence
will be noticed and make a difference. Improved representation would
make it harder for Board of Education members to disparage the
Countywide CAC as not being representative of the community and thus
dismiss its recommendations.In addition to meetings of the twelve voting members of the Countywide
CAC, which would be open to the public, the Countywide CAC would
continue to hold educational meetings for all local CAC members or
anyone else who wanted to come and participate. Such meetings might
include events such as budget presentations, curriculum innovations,
and candidate forums. Since Countywide CAC meetings in recent years
have primarily been educational rather than democratic in nature,
these meetings would be structured almost identically to the type of
meetings the Countywide CAC currently holds.One inspiration for this recommendation is my rereading of the
original 1973 regulations setting up the CAC system in Anne Arundel
County. Over the last thirty years there have been a number of major
changes to the CAC regulations. One of the changes was a radical
weakening of the original regional CAC system. Originally, there were
three strong levels to the Countywide CAC system: a local level, a
regional level, and a countywide level. Over the years, the regional
level was renamed the “cluster” CAC and its role within the CAC system
greatly diluted in comparison to the local and countywide levels. I
believe that by strengthening the regional level both the local and
countywide CAC levels would be strengthened as well.Another inspiration for this idea was my wife. I asked her for her
opinion on whether Countywide CAC voting power should be apportioned
by school or population and explained that this was a classic type of
problem in democratic theory.For example, the difficulty in solving this problem is why the U.S.
Congress is made up of the House of Representations (based on
population) and the Senate (based on geographic area). From 1776 to
1964 the problem was also one of the consuming issues in Maryland
politics because representation in the Maryland Senate was
overwhelmingly tilted toward the Eastern Shore at the expense of
populous counties such as Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Baltimore (it
was only a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964 that forced the
Maryland Senate to be reapportioned to reflect population).My wife agreed with me that the traditional bicameral solution was
impractical as was a solution that gave schools multiple delegates or
votes in proportion to their student enrollment. This is when she
offhand suggested using the feeder system as the basic unit of
representation to the Countywide CAC. A light then went off in my
head because I felt her suggestion not only solved the problem I had
posed to her but several other problems that have prevented the
Countywide CAC from realizing the hopes its founders had for it.

I expect that there will be vigorous differences of opinion on whether
this is a good idea, and I hope people will feel free to discuss their
thoughts in this forum about both the strengths and weaknesses of this
proposal. As always, such a debate should focus on the issues and
avoid ad hominem attacks. The goal is to be able to disagree without
becoming disagreeable. If people feel they might be personally
attacked, they won’t contribute to this forum, which would defeat its


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: December 12, 2010
Subject: AACPS regulations vs. Countywide CAC bylaws

The Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC), the
PTA, and the School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC) all currently
have their own bylaws. In contrast, the Countywide CAC does not.

I suggest that the Countywide CAC consider creating its own set of
bylaws to regulate its own internal affairs. These bylaws would be
consistent with the Maryland law mandating that AACPS have a
Countywide CAC (see http://regulations.aacac.info) but would
substantially replace the internal CAC controls contained in AACPS
regulation 501.01.

Linked below are the bylaws for CRASC, the PTA, and SBNC:


1. CRASC (the organization of students that represents student
stakeholders in AACPS):

a. constitution

b. bylaws


2. Maryland and Anne Arundel PTA

3. SBNC (the organization that nominates school board members for
approval by Maryland’s governor)

Note how much more sophisticated CRASC’s constitution and bylaws are
compared to AACPS regulation 501.01. This suggests the question: if
high school students can achieve this level of sophisticated self-
rule, why cannot adults who are designated leaders of their
communities? Note, too, that CRASC’s regulations have been kept
up-to-date and relevant, unlike AACPS regulation 501.01.

If others agree that the Countywide CAC should have its own set of
bylaws, they should convey such sentiments to the next set of
Countywide CAC officers.

As an aside, I would like to point out how CRASC manages its school-
based voting system in both its constitution and bylaws. Some members
of this forum have expressed an interest in weighted voting systems
based on student enrollment. The concern is that each elementary
school student currently has roughly five times the representation in
the Countywide CAC as each high school student and 2.5 times the
representation of each middle school student. The following passage,
indented and set off in quotation marks, is from Section 3 of CRASC’s constitution
(for more detail, see CRASC’s bylaws):

“Each member school shall be entitled to a number of votes determined
by school population, as specified in the Bylaws. Each school’s votes
shall be determined based on the prior year’s enrollment, except in
cases where the prior year enrollment differs significantly, or prior
year enrollment data is unavailable. CRASC Executive Board members are
not included in a school’s total number of votes. The votes shall be
distributed as follows:

Subsection 1 The voting delegates who attend each meeting shall
possess full rights to vote, introduce motions, and debate.

Subsection 2 The Executive Board members who attend shall possess
full rights to vote, introduce motions, and debate.

Subsection 3 The number of observing delegates shall be determined
by the meeting place and approved by the CRASC Advisor. Observing
delegates are limited to full rights to motion and debate only.

Subsection 4 The advisors of the member school shall not possess
the right to vote, introduce motions, or debate.”

I do not plan to implement any type of weighted voting scheme at the
January 27, 2011 election for Countywide CAC officers. Although
favored by some members of this forum, weighted voting has not been
discussed and voted upon at a Countywide CAC meeting.
Administratively, it is also hard to implement. So I believe it is
inappropriate to implement at this time. Please note that I am not
taking a position on using weighted voting, either as a matter of
principle or on the specific way CRASC implements it (which, in any
case, is inappropriate as a model for the Countywide CAC, if only
because CRASC includes only middle and high schools as members).
Nevertheless, I do recommend that future leaders of the Countywide CAC
place this topic on the Countywide CAC’s agenda. You may vote on
whether to put this on the Countywide CAC’s agenda using the
Countywide CAC Agenda Request tool at http://agenda.aacac.info.

To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: December 4, 2010
Subject: launch of new CAC membership “wiki” and reminder about
             the new tool to suggest topics for Countywide CAC meetings

As a complement to the Countywide CAC website at http://aacac.info, I
have launched a CAC membership wiki (a type of collaborative website)
at http://wiki.aacac.info. To get the membership wiki started, I’ve
added the approximately 120 public schools in AACPS and the names of
the Countywide CAC reps and local chairs at almost all the schools.
Please review the membership information for your school to make sure
it is accurate. It has always been a struggle to maintain an up-to-
date membership list. Also, please consider adding a comment on your
school’s page if you know the name of CAC members and officers who
aren’t listed on the page. I will automatically be notified of any
comments and will update school pages as necessary. If anyone wants
to volunteer to maintain these pages, please let me know. I hope that
eventually all local CAC chairs will volunteer to maintain the web
page for their own school.
As announced last week on this forum, I launched a social media
application based on Google Moderator to help identify popular topics
to place on the Countywide CAC’s meeting agenda. Please go to
http://agenda.aacac.info to view, comment on, and vote on agenda
topics proposed by others, and to suggest your own topics. This is an
experiment, and I await your feedback. Many federal agencies and
other organizations now use a similar tool to solicit suggestions from
the public. This tool is intended to supplement, not replace, current
Countywide CAC agenda setting processes. The Countywide CAC officers
elected on January 27, 2011 should make their own decision about
whether this experiment is worth continuing.


To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: November 29, 2010
Subject: Baltimore Sun article on Countywide CAC and experimental launch of Countywide CAC Agenda Requester

On November 27, 2010, the Baltimore Sun ran a news article covering
the resignation of Countywide CAC Chair Tom Frank and its aftermath.
You may click on the article here.
As part of the Countywide CAC’s new Google social media platform, I
have launched, on an experimental basis, a Google Moderator-based
application labeled the “Countywide CAC Agenda Requesterr.” You may try
this out here.The Countywide CAC Agenda Generator provides a new and powerful way
for you to suggest topics to be placed on the Countywide CAC’s
agenda. The way it works is that you can vote and comment on other
people’s suggestions. The more votes a suggestion gets, the higher
its visibility. Future Countywide CAC officers might want to consider
automatically placing CAC-appropriate items on the agenda that get
more than a certain number of votes. This is in keeping with the idea
that the Countywide CAC’s agenda should include more bottom-up
items. I hope you will vote and comment on other peoples’ agenda
suggestions as well as propose your own. Note that unlike Google
Groups, Google Moderator is not email based. You have to go to the
Google Moderator-based Countywide CAC Agenda Generator page to view,
comment, and vote on others’ suggestions, and submit your own
suggestions. In order to comment, vote, and submit suggestions (but
not to view others’ suggestions), you also have to sign in with Google
(e.g., using the same username and password you use with Gmail, Google
Groups, or any other Google application).For a brief history of the state statute concerning CACs in Anne
Arundel County, click here.Unfortunately, I have not been able to compile a legal history of
AACPS Policy and Administrative Regulation 501.01 because apparently
no one at AACPS maintains an archive of non-current regulations.Sometime in the next few weeks I hope to launch a new type of tool to
facilitate collaboration on the rewrite of AACPS Policy and
Administrative Regulation 501.01.Thank you for your service to the Countywide CAC.

To: Countywide CAC Discussion Forum Members
From: Jim Snider, Acting Chair, Countywide CAC
Date: November 21, 2010
Subject: January 27, 2011 Countywide CAC meeting, including questions related to voting

Thank you for those who were able to attend the last meeting at the
Arundel Center. As far as a know, it was a historic Countywide CAC
meeting in the large attendance it got from the School Board,
including six school board members, the president of the school board,
the board’s attorney, and the school’s chief information officer.
Immediately after the meeting, THE BOARD OF EDUCATION ANNOUNCED THAT
been largely ignored at both the local and countywide levels according
to the memory of most of those who attended the November 18 meeting.

I also want to thank you for indulging this ONE-TIME EXPERIMENT trying
out the Arundel Center as a meeting location, and for the LARGEST
28 meeting where Tom Frank announced his resignation as Countywide CAC
chair was almost as large. As many of you may know, the Arundel
Center is the most popular public meeting venue in the County, but I
apologize to anyone who found this temporary location confusing or
inconvenient. In addition to the County Council, dozens of other
county boards, commissions, and other groups meet there, often in the
evening. Indeed, it is often hard to book one of the meeting rooms
midweek in the evening because it is so popular. To address the
concerns about parking for public meetings, the County makes free
parking available in the nearby Whitmore (but not Gott) garage.
Parking on the street, although limited, is also free in the
evenings. Nevertheless, I sense there will be no objections if we
EDUCATION ROOM AT RIVA ROAD, so please mark your calendars with that
as the location of the next Countywide CAC meeting. All Countywide
CAC announcements are also posted on www.aacac.info.

Meanwhile, I would be very grateful for your input and thought on some
of the voting rights issues that were raised at the Countywide CAC
meeting on November 18. One of the questions raised, for example, was
who should be eligible to vote for Countywide CAC officers on January
27, 2011. In the past, anyone who has shown up at a Countywide CAC
meeting has been given a vote. However, as we discussed at length,
the administrative regulations stipulate that only Countywide CAC
reps. have voting rights. This rule hasn’t been followed, presumably
because a majority of those attending many Countywide CAC meetings
aren’t officially designated as the Countywide CAC rep. (principals
submit the name of the official Countywide CAC rep. to the
Superintendent’s office by October 20 of each years). Rather than
opening the voting to everyone or restricting it to only Countywide
CAC reps, a compromise agreement was reached whereby each school would
get one vote for each Countywide CAC office. Under this system,
Countywide Reps who represent more than one school will get a vote for
each school they represent. Previously, they only received one

We also decided to print a ballot for each of the “schools” to ensure
one-school/one-vote representation in future Countywide CAC elections.
However, we obviously didn’t have time to clearly resolve a number of
other issues that this approach raises. Here are some of the
unresolved issues and some thoughts on how we might consider solving

1) Policy 501.01 doesn’t clearly define what a “school” is.
There are 109 regular schools in Anne Arundel County plus about eleven
other schools, including special ed schools, charter schools, and
schools that are supplemental to regular school. I propose counting
as a “school” all of the 109 regular schools and all of the other
schools that received a plurality of the vote (by plurality I mean
more “yes” than “no” votes, regardless of the number of “don’t know”
votes). The vote on which type of schools to define as schools was
taken early in the meeting and only in a general advisory context,
which is why I am putting before you my recommendation. Any other
thoughts on how to define a school would be welcome.

2) On who should be the voting representative for each school, it
was decided that it should be the Countywide CAC rep. if that person
is there. If not, the local CAC officers and other community members
from that school should get together and decide how to cast their
school’s vote. This rule is still quite vague, but unless there are
objections, I think it is a manageable rule on which to base a school
vote. If citizens from a particular school cannot agree on a
particular candidate for a particular office, then I would propose
that they abstain on that vote. Again, please share your thoughts on
this matter.

One issue that didn’t come up is weighting of schools. Since there
are approximately three times as many elementary as middle and high
schools in the county, school (or countywide rep.) based voting gives
the elementary schools about three times the voting power as their
proportion in the student population. Similarly, high schools have
much less voting power than middle schools (there are 12 regular high
schools and 19 regular middle schools). To address this problem,
CRASC, the organization that represents Anne Arundel County students,
uses a formula to weigh large schools more than small schools during
elections. However, I believe this issue is too difficult and
controversial to resolve before January 27, 2011. Thus, I propose
sticking with the one-school, one-vote methodology. Nevertheless,
future leaders of the Countywide CAC may want to consider moving to a
weighted voting method for critical votes, such as elections of
officers. And, of course, as you may know, the BOE is now planning to
revisit the CAC policy and regulations in general, so all of these
points may be moot. But it would certainly make sense for us to think
about what we’d like while this rethinking is in process.

have inquired as to how they can create a similar platform for their
local or cluster CACs. I would suggest going to the Google home page
at www.google.com, clicking on “About Google,” then “Google Services &
Tools,” and then the individual applications you want to add to your
Google platform. The two that I recommend you start with are “Groups”
and “Sites.” But you will see that under “communicate, show & share”
there are many other Google applications that could be used to enhance
communication among CAC members. I am sorry that I cannot provide
more technical help to you, but I’m already spending way too much time
on just the countywide CAC.

EDUCATION AT RIVA ROAD. Please let me know your thoughts about
televising the meeting. As many of you know, I am a big fan of
televising and keeping a record of candidate election debates, as well
as presentations by public officials to the community. In the think
tank world where I’m from, webcasting events (and often posting them
on YouTube, Ustream, or a similar free video service) is now pretty
standard at all but the smallest organizations.

Thank you for your involvement in the Countywide CAC.

P.S. I have drafted a legal history of AACPS Policy 501.01 on the
www.aacac.info website under the menu item “CAC Laws/Regulations.” If
you read to the bottom of the draft, you will see that I am missing
some important documents that AACPS was unable to provide me. If you
happen to have access to any of those missing documents, please let me