Will Partisan Politics Make The Howard County Public School System No Longer The Best In The State?

I am taking a bit of a “blogger” privilege here writing this article…not specifically Howard County news…but more of just my thoughts and opinions.

My assumption is there is not many people that are “closely” watching this 2020 election for school board here in Howard County not seeing what is happening…partisan politics is now playing a bigger role than ever before.

I am not saying we have not seen partisan politics in the past in these races (as some people have pointed out recently)…but this election cycle…now that candidates run by district…Holy Cow!!!

I was excited to see a candidate from my district (District 3) finally make it on to the board with this new system…but now I am asking myself…at what cost to the school system to see candidates elected by district?

If we as a school system are about partisan politics…what level of influence will the State Delegation (State Senators and State Delegates) have? What level of influence will the County Council or County Executive have? What level of influence will the local party Central Committees have on the education of our kids? Especially with those candidates receiving and publicizing those endorsements from elected officials and political entities.

Is this really what we want?

I was hoping for candidates that were independent thinking people from each district in our county. Those candidates focused on advocating for the kids, schools, and parents in their districts as well as the full school system. I am not sure that is what we will have at the end of this election cycle.

This is clearly scary (to me at least) if you watch what is being said….what is being “pitched” to the voters. Not just from one side…but both sides. From parties, from candidates and from candidate advocates. Just wow.

I am seriously rethinking if this is a good idea (running by districts)….Robert Miller will be happy to hear that as he and I have disagreed on this topic for a long time. Robert, seriously…you might be right. Who would have ever thought I would say that this early on in the process?

We will see what happens at the end of all of this next month. We will then see what happens with the new board in the future. Will this actually be a good thing (candidates running by district) or will partisan politics play THE major role in our school system in the future?

I have to tell you right now…I am very concerned about our school system. Don’t forget…some of us remember when Montgomery County was the best school system and then watched it change over time. Will that happen to Howard County by taking the political role when it comes to our kids education? I can not say right now…but if there is anything that might start us down that road…this election cycle might just be that thing that does it.

Obviously these are my observations and my opinions…if you have other opinions…feel free to leave me comments on this post or on social media.

Scott E


  1. I agree that this “movement” is very discouraging. The school board is not a political office and shouldn’t be. The problem is that I don’t think returning to at large elections will fix this situation. The issue is that ideology is beginning to trump everything, ignoring data and ignoring parents’ goals and concerns.


    • To explain what Scott is trying to elide over:

      1: Led by Democratic members, BoE passed a large redistricting to counteract some of the neighborhood segregation that has increased racial disparities between schools. This pissed off some parents who were happy with their current school districts.

      2: Republican members & candidates are pushing for vouchers to fund private schools with public money, which would get their kids out of the redistricting.

      I find it humorous that the supposed conservatives want radical change, whereas the liberal side is trying to keep the schools more like they were in the past.


  2. Folks have pointed out past endorsements, which is true, but there is no comparison to this year. When has an entire slate of politicians such as those in District 12 endorsed a candidate? When has a candidate, in this case Matthew Molyett, explicitly declared their party affiliation in an oft-repeated hash tag? Here’s the answer: never. The District 12 endorsement in particular speaks of “working collaboratively.” In what world does “working collaboratively” involve politicians who need to work with the Board endorsing the opponent of an active Board member? Too many folks have the misconception that they are the holders of all that is virtuous in our county as opposed to daring to make the attempt to reach out and understand we are all not the same. Hardening political lines will not create a Board of Education that increases the ability to break through those barriers.


    • Scott, my personal opinion is it’s not the school system that makes it the best, it’s the families. Not the teachers, not the administration, it’s the familes. So yes in a way, it could get worse or better as people move for various reasons. Montgomery and PG counties show what can happen. Hopefully we avoid the same mistakes in our zoning and planning.


  3. Unfortunately this is just a waterfall effect that continues from the County Executive down permeating throughout the various agencies of the county as to how they are being run. For political reasons, not for the residents and county taxpayers. From the office of law, health department, Planning and Zoning, and now to garner votes for future campaign endeavors rather than focus on the needs of our children who need stability and a first class education more now than ever! Howard County has changed drastically in a short 3 years, and not for the better!


  4. As a former educator, I am glad to see all districts represented, for each district has needs that are not being met. This was evidenced in the move to virtual learning. For a better understanding of these needs, I suggest a discussion with some teachers who actually know what’s happening in their schools.


  5. Call it as it is. It’s Ball affecting his influence over the BoE and a BoE that is as corrupt as it is misinformed. Redistricting to balance the numbers-no, doesn’t seem to be the case from the limited change in numbers and costing more in budget for transportation. The redistricting was about social equity? No. It was a Ball threat to investigate the BoE that motivated a specific outcome that benefitted his previous district. For those that say it was a BoE decision and not an executive, it’s funny how after pushing for his agenda the BoE “audit” seems to have been reduced in scope and the limited investigation into corruption was neutered.
    The BoE intimidated the dissenters into the decision on redistricting they wanted and anyone that believes that the BoE as a whole has any interest in students over their own agenda doesn’t have kids in the system.


  6. Absolutely Robert. Bottom line is redistricting is a hard left liberal nirvana just like vouchers would be paradise for hard right conservatives. This has nothing to do with education and we need BoE members who are independent to this Center/Right topic called education. Don’t believe me, why aren’t the schools open when we know virtual school is a joke if it’s not about politics?


  7. Scott was a little opaque in his points, but I believe that was deliberate in not wanting to appear Left, or Right. We all know what he’s talking about if we’ve been following local politics. One solution to this is parents need to be better informed and not allow themselves to be intimidated by screaming bullies. VERY Important BEFORE THIS NEXT ELECTION: Parents need to demand to know the content of the school/county SEL (social emotional learning) lessons being forced on their kids and the Required “training” being pushed on educators. These things are being haphazardly implemented according to the political whims of the the county and individual school administrations. Do not allow the county to usurp your choice and obligations as parents. Know where your candidates stand on these things!


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