Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The FEZ Post: Foose, Elevate, and Zen

When asked about an obstreperous yet vacuous back-bencher, I believe it was former British PM Sir Anthony Eden who opined, “I don’t think much of him, alas, too frequently.”

Shifting from the intrigues of Westminster in the ‘50s to Howard County of today, Renee Foose, of course, is the answer to what happens when an uncontrollable Superintendent meets up with an unyielding Board.

Careful readers of this blog will know that this author generally believes the Reform Five to be more in the right when it comes to matters facing HCPSS.  That said, the recent traditional local media coverage is making it appear as though we are dealing with a “she said/they said” controversy…school yard fractiousness where the combatants are roughly equivalent in their degree of wrong, or short-sighted-ness, or self-interested-ness, etc…

The reality, from a communications perspective, is that Foose and her allies have been punching above their weight in terms of advancing her “case.”  Her opponents, quite simply, are not as cohesive as they could and should be.  The election results of 2016 should have been seen as a massive repudiation of the Foose regime.  A different Superintendent might have taken the hint and resigned, or opted to find a way to collaborate with the new Board.  Nay, not Ms. Foose.  By choosing to dig in her heels and snipe away, she opted to become an Obstacle, seemingly more intent on career preservation and on retaining whatever control she has over the day-to-day operations of the school system.  A different regulatory structure could have provided a faster remedy to this impasse, alas, it was not acted upon by our good friends in Annapolis.  So, we find ourselves in the mire.

It is unfortunate that we rely so heavily on citizen journalists and other interested parties to get the story right.  Such is the reality of our modern era, with traditional media often having neither the resources nor the institutional memory to provide its consumers with the depth of coverage such a story requires.

Speaking of citizen journalism, this blog would be remiss if we did not single out the new podcast offered up by HoCo’s own Action Squad:  Candace Dodson Reed and Tom Coale, Elevate Maryland (elevatemdpodcast.com).  While I enjoy the interview and discussion format, and they landed two interesting guests for the first two shows, I would definitely like to hear more of their thoughts on various state and local issues.  Perhaps the biweekly nature (and length) of the podcast necessitates the coverage of more topics within a relatively short span of time, but I would love if they could drill down on certain issues and share more of their expertise and insights.  Overall, nicely done!

Finally, on a sadder note, this blog would like to recognize the passing of Robert Pirsig, author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  I recall reading his book in its entirety over a series of Metro rides, which is precisely the wrong environment to consume this work.  An attempt to reconcile our technologically-driven society with a personal commitment to a higher expression of human values, which he summed up through his perspectives on Quality as a metaphysical concept, one felt the struggle of the protagonist as he tries to live authentically, and meaningfully, in a world that doesn’t necessarily appreciate his worldview.  His ability to locate the spiritual within the mechanistic, when seen through the lens of mindful action and a self-perfecting impulse, helped lead to the creation of this classic work.  He shall be missed.

Stay tuned, as more will follow.

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