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As Long as We Remember...

January 13, 2012

Quarterbacking from the Sidelines

Adam Avery

My first and last throws as a quarterback in organized football were to the other team. There were many in between and I was sacked my fair share of plays.


All quarterbacks face the challenge of shepherding the team’s offense – and to a great extent – the entire team. They are leaders by nature. They are often given too much credit for wins and take too much blame for losses.


The captain of any team is the voice of an organization – if not the face. They are charged with motivating others around them, showing others how to pick themselves up and dust off their britches. Leaders must be adept at managing personalities and manipulating their environment.


It is no job for anyone who isn’t comfortable putting their skills on display for criticism. It is no job for one who is concerned with how their reputation is perceived outside of their sphere of influence. It is no job for one who can’t commit the time required to govern the subtleties of success which are rarely considered by those who haven’t volunteered for or earned the position.


Quarterback is a position Frederick County Board of Education member Donna Crook is unwilling to accept, despite her repeated cries that everyone has been against her leading the team for each of her 10 years on the school board.


Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Crook cast the deciding vote for president of the Board of Education to liberal Montgomery County teacher, Angie Fish. The vote came after a heated and public debate of whether or not Ms. Crook deserved to be president and whether or not current President Brad Young owed the delivery of votes needed for Ms. Crook to take over his position as payment for her vote last year to give him the opportunity to show that he can lead.


Despite having been nominated, seconded and reportedly guaranteed the four votes needed to become the next president of the school board, Ms. Crook instead voted for Angie Fish in return for the votes needed to remain vice president.


The decision by Ms. Crook lends credibility to what Mr. Young and fellow board members Jimmy Reeder and Dr. April Miller have been privately saying and publicly dancing around: That Donna Crook does not have what it takes to be a quarterback. Her inability to attend all meetings in full and a perceived lack of attention are criticisms which have been leveled at both Ms. Crook and Ms. Fish.


No one can doubt Ms. Crook’s impact on the special needs children of Frederick County. Her leadership in that role has been unprecedented.  It has endeared her to throngs of families who face challenges raising children with challenges of their own. Ms. Crook has protected – more accurately fought for and won – consideration for students who need a little different attention and resources than the majority of children and their families need to ensure an adequate childhood education.


One can and should, however, doubt Ms. Crook’s sincerity. For almost as many years as she has served on the board – 10 – she has complained to anyone willing to listen that previous board members – and the collective body – saw fit to unfairly impede her path to the presidency. It should also cause Frederick County voters to carefully consider voting for Ms. Crook as her term expires and she seeks re-election in November of this year.


Do Frederick County parents want to vote for a board member who reportedly turned to another just before this critical presidential vote and said: “I don’t think I have the time to do this job?” Ms. Crook was referring to the job of president, not board member, but her admission supports her opponents’ claims. When Mr. Young and others implied the same thing publicly he was eviscerated for appearing to grasp at straws for a credible reason to renege on his “promise” to support Ms. Crook’s presidential bid.


Is it possible that it hasn’t been a conspiracy, but instead previous board members had a feeling for who can and can’t lead?


The aftermath of this local political fiasco is that instead of improving upon the momentum that Mr. Young had developed for the board, the agenda will instead be controlled by an openly progressive and liberal Montgomery County teacher. That’s right. A Montgomery County teacher will now be the face and the voice of the Frederick County Board of Education.


Alleged promises, broken promises, backroom deals, personality conflicts, trust issues, the public taking sides and other “minor” characteristics of local politics have all been present during the recent public debate. The result of the vote is a “major” change in momentum and agenda.


Let me suggest that spite was the reason for her vote as much as it was the self-examination and realization that the position of president requires work, attendance and gravitas.


The unexpected vote also puts Ms. Crook in a position to pick and choose what she wants to take credit for and what to let lay at the feet of president-elect Angie Fish. I am all too familiar with this type of leader: They want to be quarterback – cheered at pep rallies and quoted in the local paper – but are afraid of the criticism that comes with being sacked and throwing interceptions.


Well, Ms. Crook, one can’t be the leader without having to dust off her jersey and call the next play, which hopefully allows your team to score or at least fall forward in the process of trying.


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