Maryland Madness!

Here’s a guest post by “Horace Womann.” She’s a researcher who is involved with ongoing work in Maryland and Baltimore and needs to remain anonymous.

On Monday, Bonnie Copeland’s resigned as CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. The Post and The Times have barely a clue about the reasons behind Copeland’s departure. aptly described by Hurricane Piche last week, is not doing well. Sure, there’s the low achievement that everyone knows and whines about, but “Diploma Counts” bestowed upon BCPSS a new dubious distinction: the second worst graduation rate in the country. At least it’s not Detroit.

Of course, this news comes just months after the state tried to takeover BCPSS in a contentious move that knocked the charm out of Charm City. Though admittedly Mayor O’Malley and Copeland made a magically delicious picture on the front page of the Sun as they railed against the state takeover.

But let’s figure this. The Democratic mayor is challenging the incumbent Republican governor in this fall’s gubernatorial election. His top priority, he claims, is education. The Republican governor is slamming O’Malley by pointing out the tumultuous state of BCPSS. In response, the Baltimore mayor needs to show that he’s tough on education.

Why is Copeland’s resignation good news for O’Malley? As of Copeland’s departure date, the BCPSS financial house will be in order. The Dems can take credit for a deficit-free school system. And O’Malley can say that if his team could do that in B’more (and that’s saying something), then they can do it for Maryland.

Another reason that the Baltimore mayor is sitting pretty: Montgomery County Executive Douglass Duncan’s pull out today from the MD governor’s race for the Democratic Nomination – how could O’Malley have stacked up to Duncan on ed issues with Montgomery County’s graduation rate in the nation’s top 4?

Plus, Copeland’s departure limits the possible damage that could fester around the former COO’s “gone fishin’” trip and other staff missteps. The mayor can’t afford scandals on the road to Annapolis.

Extra bonus is that when the election rolls around this fall, the new CEO won’t have any evidence to show whether he/she is more effective. Any complaints about BCPSS performance or management can be seen as part of the old regime, not the new one.

Then again, here’s the million-dollar question, sure, Baltimore schools showed improvements in math scores, but how much improvement would be enough to keep the politicos happy and the jobs at North Avenue stable?

This seems like just another round in the blame-game. Believe (it or not). –Guestblogger “Horace Womann.”

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