By: Ann Miller
Welcome to Baltimore County and BCPS! The parents, teachers, students, and advocates of BCPS are excited to have you join us and are anxious to hear your vision for our system moving forward.
In short order, you will be learning the depth and breadth of the issues facing our system in every department. The public at large understands that you are walking into a situation created by your predecessors, but a transparent public picture of the state of the system will be important to gauge a baseline and will be to your benefit. There will likely be attempts to cover up the inadequacies and outright failures or even to let you take the blame. Press forward and persist. To succeed at turning around BCPS will require strong leadership, wisdom, diplomacy, both well-placed compassion and some ruthlessness, a Lincoln-style cleaning of the house in the central office, vision, teamwork, independent thought, trust but verify with an emphasis on the verify, dedication, integrity, fairness, business sense, and smart hiring decisions to surround yourself with integrous and competent leaders.
The stakeholders of BCPS have had a hard education in politics, advocacy, and corruption over the past several years. At this point, we can spot it coming. We want to see straight-forward leadership without the fluff, without the overpriced and overdone State of the Schools, without the PR spin from the Communications Department and the media and the bargaining units’ leaders et al. Give us genuine leadership that puts the stakeholders first. And don’t even think about doing outside consulting work.
There will be some who have a vested interest in your failure. Know that God has a plan for your leadership and be strong in that knowledge.
You have a tremendous opportunity to be the hero of BCPS. The system has nowhere to go but up, and needs a solid and prudent vision for what it will become in the coming years. BCPS has been burnt to the ground and is seeking a rebirth. Be open to input from all sources, visit the mailroom, get into the weeds, dirty your hands, and do the job you were appointed to do. If you do, you will build your own legacy like that of Dr. Dubel or even more memorable. We may be talking highly of you decades from now.
I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you in person. Congratulations on your appointment!
Ann Miller is an education advocate and former member of the Board of Education for Baltimore County Public Schools (2015-2018).