AFT-MD Testifis in Favor of an Elected School Board

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Testimony

 

of

 

Ms. MArietta English



PRESIDENT

American Federation of Teachers—Maryland

 

PRESIDENT

BALTIMORE TEACHERS UNION

                                     

Before the

HOUSE ways
and means Committee

 

MArch 9, 2011

 

HB1011 – BALTIMORE CITY BOARD of SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS—SELECTION OF MEMBERS—LOCAL REFERENDUM

(DEMOCRACY IN EDUCATION ACT of 2011)

 

SUPPORT

 

 

Madame Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I speak on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers—Maryland and the Baltimore Teachers Union. We represent more than 20,000 state and municipal workers in the state of Maryland, including 9,000 educational workers in the City of Baltimore.

 

I am here today, on behalf of those educational workers, to express our support of House Bill 1011—Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners—Selection of Members—Local Referendum (Democracy in Education Act), and particularly for that provision that calls for the election of some the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.

 

I think it is imperative that we institute a process that allows for the election of members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners as soon as possible.

 

The participation of citizens in the election of those who administer education policies is both positive and progressive. The election of members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners will encourage citizens to believe that they have access to those responsible for developing and implementing the policies that affect their children’s education. 

 

Further, allowing the election of some of the members of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners will empower parents and city residents by democratizing the process of selecting board members and thus motivate citizens and parents to participate in the formation and implementation of educational policies. 

 

 

I believe that this involvement on the parts of parents and citizens is essential, and I believe that this is why most school boards in the state of Maryland—and  indeed, the majority of school boards throughout the country—are elected.

 

The current process of selecting members of Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners encourages Board members to acknowledge their responsibility to those who appointed them. Board members also should be encouraged to remember that they are answerable to the citizens and the parents of the children whom they are supposed to serve.

 

By allowing a percentage of the Baltimore City School Board’s members to be elected, the City Administration signals to parents, teachers, and the community at large, that their participation and input into matters concerning educational policies and processes are welcomed and respected.

 

Indeed, nothing will send a clearer signal to the residents of Baltimore—a signal that says that the City encourages their participation—than  allowing citizens to choose at least some of those who will represent them and their children on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.

 

The election of Board members means access to Board members, and it means that those Board members are answerable to the citizens they serve. I believe that this will be beneficial both to the city’s educational system and to citizens.

 

I hope that you will add your support to the passage of House Bill 1011.

 

Thank you.