My, my, my, my, mmmmmyyyyyy. What a cloak and dagger week it’s been!
Exhibit A, a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) meeting at Springbrook High School. Springbrook High School just happens to be the school for which high profile GT parent advocate Fred Stichnoth is the PTSA GT Liaison. Fred, for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, has doggedly been following GT issues, particularly as they impact the “red zone,” for the past several years. He goes to every meeting. He produces copious (and I mean copious) and detailed notes and analyses and posts them to all the relevant listservs. He informs parents of important meetings, and urges them to get informed (not just take his word on things) and get involved.
And he is a one-man-huge-pain-in-the ass to MCPS and the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teachers Association (MCCPTA).
Why? Not only has he been watchdogging MCPS, but he’s actually been urging parents to use the channels open to them, namely their PTAs–and through them the MCCPTA–to weigh in on the revision of Policy IOA which governs gifted education. In collaboration with other GT advocates, he’s circulating an amended version of MCCPTA’s resolution regarding the policy revision, with more detailed and robust language, which under Robert’s Rules of Order could be introduced at next month’s MCCPTA Delegates meeting. It’s community organizing that would make Barack Obama proud.
But some people are not happy. Oh no. On Tuesday, for the second time, Fred asked the Springbrook PTSA to pass a resolution on the revision of Policy IOA. And just who should happen to drop in? A MCCPTA representative.
The MCCPTA representative came in before the meeting, met the PTSA President, and sat down beside her at the front of the room. She said nothing until the MCCPTA resolution discussion began. During the course of a half hour discussion, she made a very few comments–nothing regarding the substance of the argument.
As the discussion came to an end, Fred said that the worst outcome would be approval of the MCCPTA resolution, the second worst would be no action by MCCPTA, and the best would be a vote for the modified resolution. The MCCPTA repesentative said that the worst outcome would be no action (“silence”) by MCCPTA. Why? Because they would have a “seat at the table” but they would be silent! (Clearly, with MCCPTA, it’s all about the seat at the table.)
Then the President and MCCPTA Secretary exchanged a glance, she mumbled something, and the President decided not to vote, stating more time was needed to consider the resolution. This is the second month in which the vote was postponed.
The next morning Fred discovered a posting on the school’s listserv by the schools’s former PTSA President. It was a message from MCCPTA President and it had gone out before the previous evening’s meeting (when Fred was still at work):
I have received complaints from some of your PTA members that misinformation has been put forth as related to the proposed resolution from MCCPTA Gifted Child Committee concerning an agenda item tonight.”
This echoes an earlier message from MCCPTA Gifted Child Committee chair:
This orderly process is how we run our MCCPTA Delegate Assemblies. It ensures no one person or outside group hijacks the MCCPTA Delegates Assemblies for their own purposes. It also sets the tone for respectful discussion and debate leading up to an organizational position for MCCPTA.”
“Misinformation?” “Hijacks?” Where is this coming from? Fred has been unflagging in his questioning and reporting. He’s been consistent in asking for civil discussion and he has done a real service by explaining the arcane policymaking process, and urging discussion among the various stakeholders. What’s more he’s not alone, nor is he part of “an outside group.” Everyone is an MCPS parent.
What’s going on? Can every PTA meeting expect a visit from the MCCPTA leadership, and every listserv special messages from the MCCPTA President?