Capital Op-Ed

Del. Pamela Beidle, Del. Pam Beidle: Bipartisan work crafted elected school board, Capital, May 1, 2017.

Snider Comment

“In 2016, the delegation had a difficult session trying to change the School Board Nominating Commission to be a less political body.”

In 2007, when the Maryland General Assembly passed the legislation creating the Anne Arundel School Board Nominating Commission (SBNC), a major selling point was that it would be less political than an elected school board. A similar debate occurred over Maryland’s Judicial Nominating Commission (which was the model for the SBNC), where it was universally agreed that selecting judges by commission rather than elections would be less “political.” The word “political” in Anne Arundel County public discourse has become so debased as to become meaningless except as a term of disparagement.

‘House Bill 716 passed the delegation with 14 votes out of 15 delegates. It passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate with just one vote in opposition.”

In 2007, the legislation creating the SBNC also was passed by bipartisan consensus. It passed the House 136-2 and the Senate 45-1. But, as it turned out, that consensus was a sign of a failed, not a successful, democratic process, as during the 2017 session the 2007 SBNC legislation was universally derided. For a description of the similar herd-like, bipartisan process that occurred in 2007, see my post “Post-Mortem on the School Board Reform Legislation,”, April 24, 2007—almost exactly one decade ago. To paraphrase a famous philosopher of history, those who do not learn from history, including personal history, are doomed to repeat it.