Well, school board member Liz Barrett really kicked over a hornet’s nest at the Frederick County Public Schools system.

With remote instruction set to begin Monday, Barrett declared on Wednesday that the school system was not prepared to begin work and suggested delaying the start date by a week.

The board quickly rejected her proposal and declared the system would begin instruction as planned. But the damage was done.

Our first question is why? Why go public with such a drastic proposal with less than five days to go before the opening? Barrett must have realized the board would not and could not do what she wanted. The board could not schedule, publicize and hold a meeting, much less gather all the information needed to make such a decision in so short a time.

Those difficulties don’t begin to deal with the vast uncertainty a delay would have created for parents and students not to mention principals and teachers.

Our second question is: What did Barrett think was going to happen as schools open? Did she seriously believe that everything was going to run smoothly from day one? And how would waiting a week make it any better?

The school system is trying to reinvent itself on the fly here. It is going to do some things right and some things wrong, and administrators, principals and teachers are going to have to change and modify for weeks and even months. This is a new system, not even the same as it was while struggling to finish the spring semester.

Barrett tweeted her concerns, and again we have to ask why. “This Board member does not believe FCPS teachers and staff and students and families have the tools, support, access, and consistent direction to open...I have asked fellow Board members to delay school start a week to allow time for many systemic improvements,” the tweet said.

In an email to The News-Post, Barrett said: “We need to step up leadership. Hope and positivity are not strategies here.” Well, slapdash, unrealistic ideas do not qualify as leadership either. If she had concerns about the system’s readiness, she has had other opportunities to speak out since the board decided in late July to open with remote learning.

No other board member joined Barrett’s call to delay the opening.

“School should begin as soon as possible. Course corrections may be necessary. No one is served by postponing the start of this experiment in education,” Board member Michael Bunitsky said in an email to The News-Post.

School Superintendent Terry Alban said in an email that she understands people are anxious but she is confident FCPS will do all it can to make the start of the year as successful as possible.

“Our teachers are professional educators who will make the necessary adjustments to improve the virtual environment for students as they go forward. This is the same as adjusting lessons in a classroom once you get to know your students better,” Alban said.

The Board of Education, with Barrett’s name included, issued a statement late Wednesday asking the community to be patient with the virtual instruction model. Modifications are bound to be necessary, the statement said.

“This is, and will continue to be, a learning process for all stakeholders,” the board’s statement read.

Thursday's last-minute announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan to allow all state schools to reopen for in-person classes was just as ill-timed. These kinds of seismic changes days before schools are set to reopen virtually just muddle the issue.

For now, we need to trust this "learning process." It's about the best that we can expect, when a school system is implementing an entirely new method of instruction in the midst of a pandemic. Let’s all take a deep breath, give our teachers a chance and see how this will work.

(50) comments

LJF0929

What made Barrett's twitter post (is this really who we've become.....) especially frustrating is she is the same person demanding that kids get their special education needs met and that we are leaving marginalized groups behind. So a week after her interrupting-laden line of questioning, she wants kids to miss more school? FCPS is working to get things up and moving. The BOE waited until July 28 to make a decision, leaving exactly 4 weeks to prepare for 44,000 students to "sign-on." I, too, appreciate when Barrett will think outside the box and stand up for those underrepresented populations, but do we have another toddler with twitter growing in our backyard?

NewMarketParent

@LJF0929

I have been sort of bouncing back and forth wondering what was her thinking. That said, I do remember myself being in situations where my peers and I have disagreed. Usually, the person in charge would try to pacify my concerns by asking me to hold my criticism until we were finished. What would then happen is that I would still have valid criticism, but would be told there wasn't enough time to address. I would like to extend Barrett this particular benefit of the doubt because it has happened to me so many times and I could completely understand how someone could get there. As facts come out, I am fine with that benefit being removed.

threecents

"Another toddler with twitter growing in our backyard"? Now that is an analogy.

Dwasserba

"Our first question is why? Why go public with such a drastic proposal with less than five days to go before the opening?" Ummmm Weren't you in the best position to - I don't know - ask?

HappySeller2014

Good leadership does not drop a bomb on an operation less than a week before it goes into effect, when having a whole summer to plan for and raise red flags.

This strikes me as a hit-and-run tactic. Like a whack-a-mole...pop up, yell, and then disappear.

She is part of a Board. You work with and among other board members in this position.

You can deploy, try again, readjust, and eventually fix a situation. Or you can remain silent and then throw a grenade into your own foxhole. I learned as a child that every adventure starts with a first step. You gotta take that step.

Barrett here is not helping FCPS, the Board, or Frederick County children with her ridiculous tactics. And she is isolating herself politically. Time to vote her out when we next can. I am not a fan of someone sitting on the sidelines, complaining, and not having good alternatives. Holding back FCPS opening by a week would be as helpful as pouring your beer on a campfire to put it out.

threecents

Happy, Why are you calling it a bomb? She expressed her opinion and it was rejected. Done. I don't see any shrapnel. Maybe I am just out of the loop, but nobody here explained what damage was caused.

HappySeller2014

Seriously threecents, I think you are out of the loop. Even the FNP likened this situation to stirring up a beehive. If you cannot comprehend how much stupidity and wasted time this situation has generated, the ship has already sailed past you.

threecents

Lots of imagery - bombs, bee hives, campfires. Probably you are right. How much wasted time did it cause? I am probably wrong, but I assumed the whole episode took about one day.

HappySeller2014

I am with you threecents. Just frustrated, as I viewed this as an unecessary speed bump. At a minimum, I would have hoped this had been looked into during the past 90 days.

If a true mess, yes, I respect a call-out in a public venue. Just not convinced this situation was best resolved this way this time.

threecents

And the beer on a campfire analogy needs some work.

HappySeller2014

Try it threecents. Build a nice, roaring campfire and then try to put it out with a can of Coors. You will get my point quickly, my friend.

threecents

The analogy still doesn't work for me because the beer wouldn't make the fire worse. The percent alcohol is too low. Maybe change the can of Coors to a can of gasoline. Then it would be more like the bomb you were talking about.ಠ_ಠ

gabrielshorn2013

Exactly Happy. The piddling can of Coors will make a lot of smoke, but the fire will roar on. Good analogy.

FcpsAdmin2

You seem to have quite an axe to grind with Barrett. You sound a lot like Jay Mason at BOE meetings.

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Instead of attacking a single BoE member, the FNP should write a piece on how the BoE is not holding Terry Alban and her cabinet accountable for their incompetence and failings.

llrowse

Liz Barrett lacks professionalism. Her bombshell announcement did nothing but fan the flames of worry, misunderstanding, and discontent.

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Liz is very professional in my opinion. The others are tone deaf and ineffective. Bombshell? LOL. At least she tries to think outside of the box and is fighting for teachers and parents. Refreshing to see that!

HappySeller2014

Aperiodic, professionals provide constructive criticism and well-thought out options and advice to situations they disagree with.

In this case, it is clear a delaying, sandbagging tactic was employed. And some complaining about leadership.

Complain but give me your proposed, thoughtful options, and I will respect you.

Simply moving FCPS start back a week gets no one anywhere. So, I have no respect. I am not a fan of many FCPS actions, as you can see from my previous posts. But, in this case, FCPS at least trying and taking a first step.

You cannot score a run without reaching 1st base. Or, you can just complain and moan about a called strike and head back to the bench. Whose team you rather be on?

Aperiodic.Moralist1

HappySeller2014 -

I dislike sportsball so your analogy is wasted.

She tries to push the board to action but it always falls on deaf ears. Listen to the Board Meetings. I’m glad she is “complaining” (You wouldn’t have used that word if describing the actions of a man). One of her recent ideas (completely unsupported by the other board members) was instead of cutting bus drivers and food staff, cut salaries across the board.

Don’t rely on FNP and their sad attempt at a hit job.

HappySeller2014

Aperiodic, my sports analogy is wasted on you. Many others get my point.

I do not care if Barret is a woman, a man, or a blue Martian. What she did was not professional nor helpful.

I could care less what she proposes, or that the board is deaf to her. Maybe there is a reason? Her idea was shot down by almost everyone quicker than I can take a shower.

You are on the wrong end of this discussion. You should jump ship.

threecents

Yah, that analogy didn't work for me either. The batter wouldn't go to the bench over just one strike. A better analogy might have involved taking out the pitcher before the first pitch just because his arm is slightly sore.

HappySeller2014

I agree threecents. Pitcher sore arm

analogy much better than my strike analogy. Nice way to put a visual pic to the situation.

Aperiodic.Moralist1

[thumbdown]

NewMarketParent

@llrowse

I disagree in that it may have been the best option in a world of bad options. I am willing to accept that as a possibility. I have a decent understanding of what was being put together and from my back and forth with the board there does to seem a huge touch of hubris that seeps in from the top.

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Good for her. Liz seems to be the only BoE member that has any motivation to do her job. The others are content with simply hoping things will work out. Voters will remember when the do-nothing incumbents are on the ballot.

llrowse

Canceling classes for another week is doing her job? The decision was made. She didn’t get her way. Her picture looks like that of any other petulant 5 year old. She’s made a fool of herself.

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Another classy comment from you. Scary you taught kids.

threecents

Sorry, It is not clear to me from reading this why Barrett was wrong to express her concerns or what damage her proposal caused. If that is her opinion, then I think it is worth knowing and it was good to get responses to her opinion from others. Right?

Dwasserba

[thumbup]three I tend to value independent thinking even when it is unpopular too. She voiced her opinion, it was not shared. Happens. The public flogging phase is a new aspect imo

HappySeller2014

Dwass, I encourage independent thinking. Just not a fan of stupid. 🙂

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Not a fan of stupid? Really? Shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.

HappySeller2014

Aperiodic, I am hard on myself. I have found in life it brings great benefits. Those that do not are indeed stupid. If you do not hold yourself accountable for being dumb, in life or school board politics, you will not get too far my friend.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

In a perfect world, dissent is celebrated. Some of the world's worst decisions have been made because dissent has been quashed.

One person's "stupid" is another persons "how could we have missed that glaring hole?"

MD1756

NMP, remember that the next time someone has a belief you don't agree with.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

I am always willing to entertain a well-thought out and thoughtful comment. That is the bar. If you bring up a bad faith argument or spew talking points, present opinion as fact or bring out a straw man, I will respond accordingly. If you feel like you have been attacked, then you make not like the mirror I'm holding up.

MD1756

NMP, I don't attack people or call them names in any of my posts. I also clearly state when I'm making a statement about my beliefs. I will say that it has been my observation that you do not always entertain well thought out and thoughtful comments when they don't agree with your beliefs. Your comment about the mirror was not needed and just adds to the observation about your into intolerance of others with a different opinion. You are basically arguing that others violate the policy so you will too. There are polite ways to disagree or recognize differences, especially if one holds themselves out to be tolerant while others are not.

NewMarketParent

@MD1756

Please explain to me where I have attacked you. I may have questioned your beliefs. But, that is what you sign up for when you decide to comment. The same as if you went into any public square, got a soapbox and started speaking.

I can definitely sense when people are trying to make a strawman argument or are trying to be disingenuous and I have no problem holding people to task. I think that it is fascinating that people are so tied to their beliefs rather than being willing to update those beliefs based on new information or understanding. If you are unhappy being challenged in your beliefs, why participate in the public square? The only answer I can come up with is that people who do that think they are right. So, what happens if you aren't? When does that correction take place? And what if your views cause you to adopt or support policies that are harmful to others? Again, when/where does that correction take place and what about the people who are harmed in the delta between policy and policy correction?

I will not apologize for attempting to speak for those who are marginalized.

bosco

MD1756, you are lightweight if NMP hasn't called you a poo slinger yet. That's the sort of adult feedback "you sign up for when you comment". [lol][lol][lol][lol][ninja]

HappySeller2014

My stupid term was ill advised. My largest concern with this situation is the fact I like well-thought out options, good advice and solution-focused discussions, rather than just someone complaing about leadership and delay classes being started by a week.

Show me a cost/benefit analysis, pros/cons sheet, or something else when you complain as a member if a group and I will respect you much more.

Silver lining here in I have not heard of the term poo slinging in years. Great visual...made me chuckle!

NewMarketParent

@bosco

I mean every time we see you, you are brown-handed. And it definitely ain't puddin' nor melanin. At this point, I am just stating the obvious.

threecents

I think most people take themselves too seriously and are too hard on themselves - myself include.

shiftless88

Wouldn't the time to have expressed her opinion been earlier in the board meetings? A statement like that means the board and FCPS system have to respond and they are busy enough without this late-game whining. She has had ample opportunity to have her voice heard. What do you think her game plan was with this tweet? What did she expect to happen?

HappySeller2014

Yes shiftless. You spot on. Politicians love Twitter, or just making a news cycle.

NewMarketParent

@shiftless88

The thing is that she may have expressed those privately. The thing is that I don't know the dynamics here which is why I am willing to extend the benefit of the doubt.

HappySeller2014

Not buying that NewMarketParent. Back on the 26th she sent out a tweet, followed up by an email.

Both potentially public forums and forums that can be shared. Politicians know this. Not sure why you willing to entend benefit of doubt. Read first FNP article that came out on this situatiom last week.

Pretty clear here Barrett's concerns were voiced for consumption of a wide audience. Just so happended door was slammed shut really quick.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

I'm sure you've heard of the concept of the trial balloon. Maybe the tweet was a trial balloon. From my experience with the BOE, they do not seem to give parents a high amount of consideration unless they see numbers. That in itself seems somewhat problematic as they are here to work with us for the good of our children. I don't expect that every idea that they encounter is filled with unicorns and rainbows, but seem a little too dismissive of concerned parents.

In that environment, I can definitely understand someone raising a concern. I admit that the timing wasn't perfect, but it is rare in my life that the perfect time ever exists. When is the perfect time to raise the alarm bells? And what happens if that perfect time passes, but the alarm still exists?

HappySeller2014

Trial balloon NewMarketParent? You just keep digging your hole deeper and deeper.

Keep on coming up with excuses. Each one makes me smile. As you can see, you position gets harder and harder to defend. Now you are latching onto trial balloons.

What next? Maybe Barrett needed to exercise her fingertips on twitter due to carpal tunnel syndrome? She wanted to run a flag up the flagpole to see who shot at it? She was just really in a bad mood mid-week last week?

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

OK. It seemed for a brief second that you wanted to have a rational conversation. Won't make that mistake again. I attempted to give rational reasons for why someone would do what she did and you aren't willing to accept that those reasons are reasonable. That's on you.

HappySeller2014

They aren't reasonable, NewMarketParent. Not even rational. Bringing up trial balloons is like throwing spaghetti at a wall, hoping some of it will stick. I guess a broken clock is correct twice a day, but it is wrong 99.9% of the other seconds.

Keep on coming up with other explanations. In these tough times, I enjoy the chuckles.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

Enjoy your chuckles. I prefer to have conversations/comments back and forth with people who are argue in good faith.

All a trial balloon is, is the idea of putting something out there to see what the response is. Why that seemed to offend you honestly only you can answer.

Enjoy your entertainment that is local/regional/national politics. I hope you get plenty of belly laughs.

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