by Tommi Makila
By law, Maryland school boards are to be nonpartisan. With the reorganization of the Prince George’s County Public Schools governance structure in 2013, the Board of Education was stripped of much of its power. However, this takeover of the school system has not been enough for the political establishment. Our partisan elected officials are shamelessly meddling in the school board elections through their endorsements and slates, making these elections “nonpartisan” in name only.
Politicization of the school system and the school board is not in the best interest of our students. In a well-governed school system, decision-makers feel more accountable to voters than to the political establishment and its agenda. But party endorsements of school board candidates undermine this principle, shifting the balance of power away from the voter and toward the party establishment.
To combat this corrosive influence, a group of concerned citizens is launching an effort: the “Alliance for Nonpartisan School Board Elections.” Our goal is to educate residents about the issue and mobilize advocacy efforts. We call for political parties to keep school board elections nonpartisan by refraining from endorsing Board of Education candidates or putting them on party slates and sample ballots. As the first step for the Alliance, we have established a Facebook group as a way of connecting interested individuals with each other. If this is an issue you care about, please join the group! You can find it through this link or by searching for “Alliance for Nonpartisan School Board Elections” on Facebook.
“Democratic Central Committee reverses decision regarding Board of Education candidates,” published in the Sentinel Newspaper on September 24, 2014.
Information on HB 1107, the 2013 Maryland law that changed the way the school system was governed.