President's Message

Some Thoughts Before the Summer Break

As the GTCC takes a break in July and August, I want to highlight a couple of news items that are worth keeping any eye on during the summer. First up is Baltimore County’s new interim school superintendent, Verletta White. Even before she assumes her new position at the end of June, Mrs. White offers some contrasts to her predecessor, Dallas Dance. She brings 23 years of experience in Baltimore County public schools; whereas Dr. Dance had no experience with County schools before he assumed the position. Plus, Mrs. White is a product of County schools, having attended elementary thru high school in our county. Unlike Dr. Dance, Mrs. White brings a background as a classroom teacher for six years before her career pivoted to administrative duties, most recently as the chief academic officer for the school system. As you may remember, Dr. Dance needed a waiver from State educational standards that required superintendents to have classroom teaching experience.

Another contrasting characteristic may be in management style. Dr. Dance demonstrated an energetic, hard charging style that was sometimes criticized for not seeking alternative viewpoints. Teachers complained that he failed to listen to their suggestions when the County schools instituted a new elementary school curriculum several years ago, and many teachers complained that they had little or no time to develop lesson plans for the new curriculum. Hereford High School parents were angered when Dance instituted a new daily schedule for the school, and they found it hard to bring the superintendent to the table to discuss why they objected to the mandated change. Similarly, residents of Mays Chapel found that Dr. Dance did not sit down to discuss the controversial construction of the Mays Chapel Elementary School before its building got underway. On the other hand, Mrs. White is described as “a very good listener,” and someone who wants feedback. One administrator described her style this way, “People were nervous about having too much change. I think her leadership will be very calming.”

Finally, Mrs. White will not be burdened by the ethics controversy that sullied Dr. Dance’s time in office. During his tenure, Dr. Dance recommended a no-bid, three-year contract with Supes Academy, a private, Illinois-based company, to provide training for principals at a cost of $875,000. It was latter disclosed that Dr. Dance accepted a part time job with Supes, but he failed to disclose that fact to the school board, despite his obligation to do so. Let’s hope that Verletta White avoids the pitfalls that Dr. Dance experienced, and we shall see if the School Board moves to make her the permanent replacement in the future.

On a totally unrelated front, I hope that some of our members will be able to attend the public meeting for the Charter Review Commission on June 21st at 6:00 PM in the County Council Chambers at the Old Courthouse in Towson. The Baltimore County Charter is the basic document that outlines the broad framework for county government, and the Charter has not been amended since 1990, the last time there was a review commission. Ultimately, the Commission will make recommendations to the County Council, who will decide upon what recommendations are placed on the ballot for Charter amendments in 2018. For more information about what the Commission is considering, see the article in this newsletter about specifics. Again, this is an important chance to get your voice heard, and I hope you can attend.

Eric Rockel, President