Diversity of opinion on board a strength, not 'dysfunction'
- attached and appended (in rough format) is my unedited letter (09/01/2011) to the editor..allen----- Original Message -----From: pamythompsonSent: Monday, August 01, 2011 4:52 PMSubject: [howardpubliced] Diversity of opinion on board a strength, not 'dysfunction'From ExploreHoward
------------------------------------August 1, 2011Letters to the EditorHoward County Times5550 Sterrett Place, Suite 312Columbia, MD 21044Dear Editor,Regarding Howard County Executive Ken Ulmans recent criticism of the Boardof Education as dysfunctional, I respectfully disagree. As one often outspokenmember of the Board, I will be the first to acknowledge that current Boardmembers possess varied and often profoundly different opinions how to best carryout the mandate of our citizens. That said, I view the diversity of opinion on theBoard as a strength, not a dysfunction. The current Board has consistentlyworked within tight budget constraints to address a wide variety of critical issuesimpacting Howard County's children, the treasures for whom we Board membersare stewards, and ever-mindful of protecting our frequently overlooked, but mostessential asset Howard Countys public school classroom teachers and supportstaff.Recent accomplishments of the current Board include the advent of a "worldlanguage" pilot program at the elementary school level; the successful conclusionof labor negotiations during tight economic conditions; and, the approval of aprogrammatic review of the impact of the 1954 Supreme Court decision inBrownv. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. I am particularly excited about thesystem wide review of the impact ofBrown v. Board of Education because it willinexorably lead to a motion and vote on whether the Howard County Board ofEducation should issue a formal apology for over half a century of operation of aracially segregated school system.Finally, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Ulmans ill conceived approach tointroduce partisan politics and related gerrymandering into the election of ourexpressly non-partisan Board of Education. Why would we in Howard Countyinvite the ills demonstrated so vividly by the wasteful wrangling and brutishbickering of partisan politics in the recent national debt limit fiasco into thegovernance of our County's well respected public schools system?While Mr. Ulman should be applauded, not condemned, for urging an increasedopportunity for minorities to be elected as members to the Board of Education, Iwould point to the writings of Lani Guinier and other voting system experts whorecognize the value of proportional voting systems in providing greateropportunities for elected minority representation. I urge citizens to review theInternet literature on voting systems by searching terms such as: proportionalvoting; rank voting, and choice voting. Proportional voting systems are a proven,mathematically sound approach to increasing minority representation while, at thesame time, maintaining a vigorous discussion of policy alternatives thatculminates in a decision by majority vote.In the year 2000, during my first campaign for election to the Board of Education,I proposed a proportional voting system as a way to increase minorityrepresentation. I steadfastly continue to support a nonpartisan, countywideproportional voting system for the election of all Board of Education Members.Allen DyerSpeaking not for the Board, but rather as an individual member of the Board ofEducation of Howard Countycc: Board Members