So this article discusses County Executive Ulman's plan to appoint an advisory board to study the reasons why there is a lack of racial diversity on the Howard County School Board, and to issue recommendations to improve diversity.
Some months back there was a lively discussion about the lack of diversity on Columbia's village boards. One of the points made was that minority candidates don't run for the village boards. Such can't be said for the School Board. And it wasn't that long ago that the School Board lost its only minority member when Pat Gordon retired.
Larry Walker was a fine candidate who ran and lost last election, who happened to be a minority candidate. But it's hard for a School Board candidate to win the first time they run. Several of the current board members-- if memory serves, Giles, Aquino, Vaillaincourt, Dyer, and Siddiqui-- lost the first time they ran for the board. It's tough, especially since it's a countywide race.
Incidentally, in order to increase diversity on the board, electing members by district would be the way to go. Recall that I've espoused electing School Board members by district in an earlier post. The HoCo isn't brimming with minority office holders who have been elected countywide, save for a Judge of the Orphan's Court.
I hope also that this commission will also not read "minority" as "African American". The county needs to look at other ethnic groups as well, also geographic and age diversity.
Ultimately, though, I'm not sure this issue of School Board diversity is "solvable". It can be addressed, but if a solution involves some sort of mandate, then I have a problem with that. The voters of Howard County-- be they by district or countywide-- must elect the best candidates. Period.