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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Cindy A. Rose |


As Long as We Remember...

February 9, 2016

Electing The School Board

Harry M. Covert

Candidates are lining up, filling out requirements for the campaign, and I’m preparing for conversations regarding the battles for the Frederick County Board of Education. This electoral process is – without doubt – one of the most important for every family and all the youngsters going to classes.


I’m sort of glad my school daze occurred a longtime ago. In those softer times we weren’t sidetracked by security measures such as those faced today. Our elementary and high school classes were especially good. Our teachers and principals were of the highest quality. That’s not saying those of today are not up to the tasks.


Today citizens should get on the ball and pay close attention to those candidates who want to be on the cutting edge of the education business. Yes, it is a business, an expensive one and one that prepares localities for the unknown days of the future. School board members can only guess about the days and years to come. Obviously they will be expensive, and what will schools of all levels need and look like a quarter century from now. This is not meant to be humorous or critical. Educational leaders are truly vital.


My humble beginnings were not threatened by illicit drugs, guns in classrooms or disobedient students who disrupted classes. Regarding the latter, our teachers wouldn’t put up with abuse nor did the principals. Parents were not so litigious and offended by everything. Students who happened to get sent home for some infraction – not smoking or cussing or refusing to answer the teacher – usually received parental discipline quickly.


I’d like to say I wasn’t perfect in Miss Reames’ fifth grade. Once, this sweet lady missed a day because of sickness and several of us started throwing paper airplanes as the substitute was erasing the blackboard. Guess who she nabbed? Yes and Mr. Baines, the principal, didn’t think it was funny. Neither did my father who sided against me, gave me a few whacks with his leather belt and took me back to school. He had to miss a day of work.


Naturally I was greeted by my friends. They laughed and laughed and – a half-century later – still liked to remind me. Thirty years later I did send Miss Reames roses. She still thought I was a “sweet boy.” I still have her letter as a reminder.


Our schools were just as important then as they are now. How best to prepare our children and grandchildren is dynamic. We can fight and argue over modern styles of education, but the need is vital for quality school board candidates. Citizens must pay attention to whom they pick for leadership.


I may be somewhat old fashioned. In my day the school board was selected by city councils, county supervisors and not elected. Perhaps this would be good for these days. This puts the burden of choosing school board members a key job of the chief electees, who have the responsibility for funding. Okay, let’s not look back too far and simply look to the future where residents can really be involved.


I am one of those, probably in the minority these days, who think public school employees – teachers, coaches, substitutes and administrators – should be barred from serving on county councils. This battle has already been settled and moot.


My interest for the newspapering profession started early in my life. In my ninth grade English class, Miss Huffman insisted we learn Julius Caesar, and then write a term paper. Well, I took the opportunity to write and design my first newspaper. To this day I remember receiving a nice grade for the effort. I typed the pages. I forgot to get permission to use the typewriter, but Miss Huffman forgave me. Everybody else had written their papers in longhand (cursive, that is) with fountain pens.


The purpose of this screed is to remind voters the importance of service as school board members. Board members have a tough job. If it were easy, of course, everybody would do it. Times for one-room schools are long gone. Wired and air conditioned schools are musts for today and just as important as “readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic.” One and one still equals two.


One more thing. Education is expensive. Ignorance is more costly.


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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