Mark Uncapher, is serving as President of the Montgomery County Republican Club. Mark is a long-time party activist who previously served as the Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.
Will State Ed Board Dump Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury?
Marylanders Deserve Better
The Maryland State Board of Education is scheduled to consider next Tuesday, August 22, whether to keep Mohammed Choudhury as the State Education Superintendent. His current contract expires in June 2024. However, if Choudhury is to get a new contract, it must be in place by the end of September.[i]
The Duckpin in May chronicled Choudhury’s questionable judgment and lack of transparency in responding to media requests concerning test results at failing Baltimore City schools.
The Duckpin recounted Governor Wes Moore’s implicit criticism of the Education Department and Choudhury. Asked by Fox45 if his office knew the State Education Department had planned to change how data is released to the public, making less information available, the Governor replied: “We did not. The fact there is not the level of coordination between the Department of Education and the Governor’s Office is something that needs to be fixed and addressed. It’s an independent body, an independent structure, and while we respect that, we also want to understand that we’ve got to do better when it comes to being able to present accountable and transparent results in our public education system.”
Since then, Choudhury’s press has gone from bad to much worse. On July 21, the Washington Post ran a detailed critique of his performance “Maryland school chief criticized for ‘toxic’ work style, management.”
The Post reported that it had “conducted more than 50 interviews with current and former education department employees, elected officials, school district administrators, early-childhood service providers and others in Maryland’s education world.”
The paper recounted claims that:
“Choudhury’s leadership led to late payments to school districts and partner agencies; the return of more than $800,000 of unused funds for vocational instruction to the federal government; late reports to Maryland’s legislature, after which annoyed lawmakersconditioned $1.5 million in future funds on a timely delivery of information; and frayed relations with Maryland’s Accountability and Implementation Board, the agency in charge of the Blueprint.”
The Post quoted State Board of Education President Clarence Crawford and Vice President Susan Getty saying that Choudhury is doing excellent work, but they take the complaints about Choudhury “very seriously.”
Nevertheless, they assured the Post, that they had investigated and rejected claims of a toxic work environment made by at least nine current and former employees who wrote detailed letters to the board and Gov. Wes Moore.
According to the Post: “The letters said Choudhury and his executive leadership team belittled and mocked employees. “He has screamed at staff, torn up memos and thrown them at people, told staff that they are ‘stupid,'” said one testimony by Bruce A. Lesh, a former seven-year employee. “Top-level staff are reticent to share with the superintendent the information that he needs to hear to make informed decisions.” As a result, Lesh said, the agency is unable “to meet its current statutory requirements.”
Governor Moore’s earlier comments, made even before the Post’s July 21 story, were encouraging. And while the Governor noted the Department’s independence, he indicated that “coordination” needed to be “fixed.”
Undoubtedly, the Governor appreciates that his aggressive education spending increases anticipated by the “Kirwan Blueprint” requires public confidence in Maryland’s educational leadership. A lightning rod for a State Education Superintendent undermines that. However, whether the State Board of Education also recognizes that Marylanders deserve better than Superintendent Choudhury remains to be seen.