When people are elected or appointed to a position of responsibility, we sometimes wonder about their qualifications and hope they know what they’re doing — otherwise, there may be problems.
Too often, we find that our fears are justified.
That’s why the recent naming of Edward Root to the vacancy on the Allegany County Board of Education should bring a collective sigh of relief. (See: “Hogan appoints Root ...,” Nov. 30 Times-News, Page 1A.)
If there is anybody who knows what he’s doing, it’s Root.
His 54-year career in education apparently ended on Jan. 3, 2016, when he left the school board after serving as a member and president.
However, he didn’t retire completely because he served on the committee that has worked successfully to achieve much-needed renovation of Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberland, the site of many school and municipal activities.
Now, Root is coming back full-time, having been appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan to fill the seat left open by the Maryland State Board of Education’s removal of Wayne Foote.
Foote’s departure from the school board ended a brief but unpleasant period that began after the November school board election, when sitting board members asked the state board to remove him on grounds of sexual misconduct, intimidation and breaching the confidentiality of executive session board discussions.
Robert Farrell and David Bohn (against whom no allegations of wrongdoing have been made or suggested) and Foote ran a combined campaign for election to the board as “The Alliance.”
They were elected and, after taking office in January, became for all intents and purposes “The Triumvirate.”
Their actions gave the impression that they would decide ahead of time what they were going to do and ignore the wishes of Tammy Fraley and Deb Frank, the other board members.
Our Nov. 22 Letter of the Week from Russell Shorto and Pamela Twigg of Cumberland summed up the situation in no uncertain terms.
It echoed our sentiments (and likely those of many other people) and read, in part:
“Can we have a little sanity on the Allegany County Board of Education, please?
“Ever since the Three Amigos (they actually called themselves that) were elected to the board, Cumberland has been a laughingstock in education circles, and our children have suffered.
“The very fact that these men declared they would vote as a bloc was an insult to residents who believe that each member of a school board ought to weigh issues involving our children’s education using his or her particular combination of judgment, experience and wisdom.
“Now that the most egregious violator of the public trust, Wayne Foote, has been removed from his position by the Maryland State Board of Education for misconduct and willful neglect of duty, Gov. Larry Hogan has an opportunity to bring some stability.
“We appeal to the governor to name Edward Root to the open position. We do not know Root personally, nor are we involved with the board in any way.
“We are just parents who have a child in the school system, people who long for a board that will advance actual educational policy. In conversations with many other parents, we have come to appreciate that Root has a resume unmatched by anyone in Western Maryland.”
Amen to all of the above.
Root was a teacher at Fort Hill High School and taught graduate courses at Frostburg State University, where he was dean of the School of Education. He served on the state board of education (including board president) and the county board of education.
In 2003, he was chosen Educational Leader of the Year by the University of Maryland. He also chaired the Athletics and Achievements in High School Commission for the National Association for State Boards of Education from 2002 to 2003.
He won a National Distinguished Service Award in 2007 from the National Association of State Boards of Education.
When last year our reporter Greg Larry did a series of stories on education in Maryland, Root was one of the people he consulted.
He told Larry that “Allegany County has a very good school system. We have a lot of experienced teachers that day-to-day do a good job. We are either the poorest or second poorest county, yet we are a long way from the bottom (in education). We are up in the middle. We’ve done that because we have a great teaching staff and great administrators.”
When Foote’s school board seat became vacant, we said his replacement should be a voice of reason, someone who will work with the other board members and everyone else involved with the school system — the staff, parents and students — and is devoted to giving our students the best possible education.
That sounds like Ed Root, to whom we say “Welcome back.”