Capital Article

Anne Arundel lawmakers agree on elected school board, March 31, 2017.

Snider Commentary

It will be interesting to see if the primary and pre (also known as “invisible”) primary for adult school board candidates becomes as corrupt as the current primary for the student member of the board. The final bill took no steps to address the chronic problem of corruption in nonpartisan school board primaries in giant school districts such as ours, which is in the top 1% in terms of size and has weak civic institutions.

Assuming AACPS insiders can continue to control the student member of the school board (and the Anne Arundel delegation voted 8-7 to prevent the SMOB election from being subject to Maryland’s right-to-know laws), they will only need three additional votes to veto any school board proposal they don’t like. That’s because with an eight-member board and one already sewed up, only three additional votes will be necessary to block any changes from the status quo. That gives AACPS staff even more veto power than Maryland’s Governor (Maryland’s Governor needs over 60% of the votes to override a veto; here it will require over 62.5%). Not bad if you can get it.

No one paid a political penalty for in 2007 passing the shoddy legislation that created the now nearly universally derided School Board Nominating Commission. And I’d bet that no one will pay a price for passing this shoddy legislation. All they’ll have to reply in response to complaints is that it’s an improvement over the status quo–and they’ll be right. It’s sad that so much effort was spent on this legislation with so little to show for it except a politically viable solution to make the nightmare of the previous board selection system go away.

Reader Query

@ JH_Snider – What does “pre primary” mean?

 Snider Response to Reader Query

Political scientists often talk about the invisible primary before the formal primary begins. The types of questions associated with this stage of the election cycle include: Who decides to run for office? How much money and organizational support do they need to run for office and be treated as credible candidates by the press? What role do the parties and special interests play in recruiting candidates? In most elections, political parties play a key role in this stage of the cycle. When political parties are absent, special interests tend to fill the vacuum, especially in huge political jurisdictions such as Anne Arundel County (our school system is roughly the 42nd largest of more than 14,000 public school districts in the United States).