February 12, 2014 1:45 am ET
Annapolis delegation grills school superintendent and board president
Source: A “Dance” Over Hot Coals
If I wanted to be glib, I would say that the heads of the county schools had to face the music in the state capital. But, for this topic, I want to take things more seriously … at least for a little while.
A bipartisan committee made up of approximately seven Republicans and 21 Democrats convened to grill Baltimore County School Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance and School Board President Lawrence Schmidt over a wide range of topics.
Needless to say, the present controversies swirling around Dr. Dance were quite the topic of discussion. Those controversies, which I have covered in earlier blogs, include Dr. Dance’s contract with SUPES Academy, as well as his recent part-time work with SUPES.
It didn’t take long before things heated up—the questions flowed about some of the pressing issues the first-year superintendent is facing, along with his handling of said issues.
One such hot button issue brought into question was the fact that Baltimore County has nine area superintendents rather than the five superintendents from years past. Just to put this into perspective, that means that the county schools pay out $1.3 million per year for superintendents, rather than the previous cost of $750,000 per year.
It’s hard to put the county’s response into words, because there basically were none. No response on the issue.
Allow me to bring up another issue that had no answer (however, I have a few thoughts). Delegate Dan Morhan (D) wrote Dr. Dance back in December regarding an issue, and he has yet to receive an answer. Apparently, Dr. Dance has been too busy traveling.
The arrogance of that excuse is outstanding. But more on that in a moment.
Another pressing issue—one that drew 150 concerned parents to Herford High—was the instituting of Dr. Dance’s Common Core programs into one of the finest schools in the county. Apparently, one source said it’s causing chaos in the classrooms. Delegate Rick Impallaria (R) felt the controversial Common Core Program should slow down because of the various problems associated with it. Delegate Impallaria also made it clear to Dr. Dance that 22 of 24 principles signed a letter asking for a slowdown in the implementation of the concept.
Dr. Dance’s response was, effectively, “the heck with what everyone wants or thinks on Common Core, it will be full steam ahead!”
So much for being open minded.
The grilling became hotter as more coals were thrown onto the fire.
Delegate John Cluster (R) also added some fuel to the inferno of questions. (Yes, this is the same Delegate Cluster who opened the can of worms of Governor O’Malley receiving large amounts of campaign money tied to developments in the scheme of “Pay to Play” that Larry Hogan, now gubernatorial candidate, brought to our attention on the C-4 radio show on WBAL. But I digress on that for now.) Delegate Cluster wanted to know why Dr. Dance was integrating special education students into the general population—a move that, according to his sources, is causing quite a disruption. Delegate Cluster was well prepared with 15 questions, though not many satisfying answers were provided.
Next up at the plate was Delegate Pat McDonough. He asked why Dr. Dance seems to be traveling a lot despite of the problems with Common Core among others issues that need his attention on the home front. Mr. Schmidt interjected his sentiments by saying that Dr. Dance is a young African American leader in the field of education and he is in demand as a speaker. This, apparently, is why Dr. Dance’s travel schedule is so hectic.
To his credit, Delegate McDonough fired back that his age and ethnic background are immaterial—Dr. Dance’s priority must be the children in Baltimore County and not some other city.
To sum it up nicely, Delegate McDonough asked if Dr. Dance wants to be a “show horse” or the Baltimore County Superintendent. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
When pressed on the details of the possible ethics investigation regarding Delegate McDonough’s complaint, there was no comment from either Dr. Dance or Mr. Schmidt.
Shocking, to say the least…
Aside from the delegation, it has come to light that the union—the Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees, or CASE—is also questioning Dr. Dance’s leadership. So, add them to the list of the teachers, parents, students, taxpayers, and lawmakers that are, as the saying goes, a little peeved, to say the least.
My take on the session is that I don’t think any of the Delegates in attendance would have given Dr. Dance a passing grade.
Maybe it was the number of red felt tip pens in the room that tipped me off to that way of thinking.
Let’s see what the next chapter holds. Stay tuned…