Support Verletta White as BCPS Superintendent
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An Open Letter to the Board of Education of Baltimore County,
Last night at the April 3rd Board of Education meeting, you had the opportunity to avoid a time consuming and costly superintendent search and vote for Ms. Verletta White as the school system’s permanent superintendent. You did not take this opportunity, with some board members stating that they didn't have enough input. Educators have been coming to board meetings month after month to endorse Ms. White. Every educator who spoke at the open forum about our next superintendent pleaded with the board to appoint Ms. White. Social media has been flooded for months with endorsements from teachers, administrators, and a variety of central office personnel. It isn't that the board doesn't have enough input, it is that some board members clearly don't value the input of the educators and internal employees charged with running the district they govern.
As educators, we are disappointed that members of the board have disregarded and quieted our voice as if we have no idea what is best for our district. It is as if we have not worked under several superintendents and know what is best for our students, our employees, and our families. We are further disappointed that some board members claim to want transparency and yet they are preparing to embark upon a process that will move the process behind closed doors and out of the hands of those who know our students and our district best. Our district has had open forums and online submissions regarding the selection of our next superintendent. CASE conducted a survey and the majority of administrators endorsed Ms. White. What could be more transparent than having this level of input? What could be more transparent than having an open forum on the selection of the next superintendent in which every single individual who wanted to speak had that opportunity? What could be more transparent than having an open discussion at the board meeting with a publicized vote?
For a year, Ms. White has served as Superintendent of the 25th largest school district in the nation. Only 2% of school districts in the nation have more than 25,000 students. Baltimore County has 113,000 students and almost 18,000 employees. It would be foolish to think that an external search firm would find anyone more qualified to do the job from such a small pool of potentially qualified applicants.
In Baltimore County, we have a rare opportunity to have a leader who is already serving as superintendent, and who after doing the job for a year, has earned the confidence and respect of educators in the system. We are disappointed that a few board members want a pricey and lengthy search process when it is clear that we have an outstanding superintendent right in our midst.
We are also disappointed that a minority on the board has given little thought to the disruption this will cause our system for years to come. A new superintendent will bring new organizational structures, new systems, and a disruption in the culture and climate we have been working diligently to establish. Success in the school house is dependent upon the solid relationships we have developed with our support and central office staff. Further, our success is dependent upon our intricate knowledge of our systems and how to navigate these systems efficiently. To change superintendents at this point will disrupt the entire educational structure and will have longstanding implications for the success of our students- the only reason we exist.
Finally, we are disappointed that a few on the board are sending a message to every loyal BCPS employee that loyalty, dedication, and longstanding service is of no value to the Board of Education of Baltimore County. Ms. White is a parent and a life-long resident of Baltimore County. She has been a teacher, an administrator, an area superintendent, chief academic officer, and now interim superintendent. In all of those years of service, her ethics and values have not been questioned. It is foolish for some on the board to hold up such an important appointment in the name of a minor ethical infraction due to a form that has confused almost everyone completing it, including board members. We are confident that Ms. White is moving our district in the right direction. She values reading and writing, the arts and technology, 21st century skills, and the importance of creating a positive and safe learning environment. She understands technology is a tool to deeper learning and not the learning itself. She further understands the importance of teaching young students how to use each and every learning tool appropriately. She spends time in the buildings talking to students and educators. Her professional and personal education paths have been dedicated to creating comprehensive educational programs for children. The fact that BCPS has eliminated the achievement gap in graduation rates between white and African-American students is directly related to the initiatives implemented by Ms. White while serving as the school system’s Chief Academic Officer. She is moving us forward. We stand with her, and we ask the board to stand with her as well. We ask the board to put our students and our employees first. Please vote for Ms. Verletta White to be our permanent superintendent at the April 17th board meeting. Thank You.
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