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As Long as We Remember...

September 25, 2012

A Different Choice

Farrell Keough

It has always been the case that “dog catcher” is one of the most coveted elected positions in government. Individuals will quit their jobs, mortgage their homes, and spend each and every day going door-to-door to be selected to oversee such a prestigious position of service.


And, yet, another elected position is often overlooked – the openings for the Frederick County Board of Education. Sure, on occasion, the school board garners some front page news in our local papers – one will remember the Taj Mahal or the foolish alcohol regulations for events off school grounds.


But, as a general proposition, very few people engage themselves in learning and understanding who are the best candidates for these positions on our school board.


So, why would one be interested in this elected position? The school board determines what will become of our next generation. The Board of Education determines, in conjunction with the Board of County Commissioners, where and how our tax dollars are spent for new and upgraded schools. The school board negotiates with the teachers’ union on salaries and benefits and working conditions. And finally, the school board oversees more than half our county budget – more than $250,000,000 dollars! Whether you have children in our school system or not, you have a vested interest in who is elected to these positions.


How, then, does one make a decision? For time immemorial, the public has depended on the local teachers’ union to pick and choose the candidates that benefit them. The union exists to promote and negotiate the best deal for the teachers and administrators. The union does not exist to bargain for the children or the taxpayer. Good, bad, or indifferent – that is the role of the union.


Enter a change! A new group entitled A Better Choice (ABC) has been formed to present an alternative to the union. Rather than focus on increased benefits for staff, ABC has a manifold mission – focus on the children, focus on the curriculum, focus on the budget, and focus on those staff members who aspire toward excellence. In short, these people have volunteered their time to offer the public a viable alternative to the union selected candidates!


(Please consider logging onto the ABC website and helping out with the costs – while many people have volunteered, there are still costs as well as help in promoting certain candidates.)


Hence, how does ABC help you? They have generated a survey dealing with issues not touched by the union. For example: parental participation, the need for additional revenue, and where would the candidate find efficiencies. To that end, only two candidates actually sent in complete responses to these questions: Colleen Cusimano and Tony Chmelik.


Having spoken with these candidates and read their responses to these questions, there is no question that they are the correct choices for these elected positions If we continue to vote for the union endorsed candidates, we will continue to receive the same results – poor funding decisions, poor curriculum decisions, (remember TERC math), and a continuation of the government monopoly in our school system.


While the Frederick County Board of Education may not be as sexy an elected position as “dog catcher” – it is tremendously importantly. Your vote for Colleen Cusimano and Tony Chmelik will benefit our children, our infrastructure, and the use of our tax dollars.


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