Congratulations to S. Dallas Dance on being named to lead the Baltimore County public school system. As the first member of the Baltimore County Council born in the 1970s, I am particularly proud that someone of my generation will be in this position.
I know some people have focused on Mr. Dance's age, to which I say: give him a chance. There are Fortune 500 executives, members of Congress, and many other successful leaders who are also in their thirties. Mr. Dance has thrived in challenging situations, and I look forward to working with him.
I believe Mr. Dance should focus on three important priorities.
First, continue to advance reforms that make the school system more open to the public and accountable to taxpayers. Over the past year, the Board of Education has taken some important steps, such as revising the rule that excluded community groups from using school facilities.
Second, Mr. Dance should work with our teachers to raise achievement among all students, but particularly the county's burgeoning minority population. Under Superintendent Hairston's watch, the school system was credited by the Schott Foundation for having the third highest graduation rate for African American males among large school districts.
Third, develop a strategic plan for modernizing our schools. During tough times, the county has found the resources to deal with overcrowding in its most overcrowded region, the York Road corridor, but let's never forget the need to reduce enrollment at places like Perry Hall High School and in our eastern communities. Now is the time to develop a plan so we spend future surpluses wisely, on school modernization, expansion, and land acquisition.
I know that all education stakeholders are ready to work with Mr. Dance to improve an already strong public school system.