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OPINION: Give Superintendent Dance a Chance

Incoming Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance deserves the chance to prove himself and mend fences with the community for the failings of his predecessor.

As a parent of a student attending a Baltimore County public school, I was very interesting in seeing who would ultimately be selected to succeed . My deepest desire, which was certainly shared by most other stakeholders of the school system, was that he or she would be replaced by an individual who was , valued dialogue with others and listened to the opinions of citizens at-large. While the academic statistics of the Hairston era have been commendable, his record in the areas noted above could not have been worse.

By most accounts, with to become our new superintendent, effective July 1, 2012, we may very well have found the "anti-Hairston." Unlike Hairston, Dance's career shows the importance he places on building and maintaining positive and productive relationships with others. Those who Dance has worked with in the past say he is "good at listening to other perspectives and incorporating them in his actions," while others have praised "his zeal for instructional improvement."

In contrast to these complimentary words come those from skeptics who harp on the relative youth of Dance. Others insist that the closed selection process utilized by the Baltimore County Board of Education couldn't have possibly ended up finding a top-flight candidate. Candidly, uninformed opinions from those who haven't even met our incoming schools chief, nor knee-jerk criticisms of process should sway the vast majority of Baltimore County residents who are trying to gauge the likelihood of his future success.

When I seek to evaluate the qualifications of any person who I am likely to be working with in the future, the first thing I do is to consult others who have worked with this person in the past. Media accounts asking for opinions regarding Dance have produced uniformly positive feedback. Favorable comments come from both former supervisors of Dance, as well as from current and his former employees and from community stakeholders of school systems he has helped govern. For me, these are far more credible sources than some the usual suspects locally, who don't seem to have anything positive to say about much of anything.

With regard to the selection process, while I am certainly not a fan of the manner in which our present chooses to govern, I don't think it is fair to place the blame for this on Dance's shoulders. As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. In this instance, I do believe that while our school board generally is not a model for one that makes good decisions, they did get one right this time.

While our new superintendent definitely has high expectations to fulfill, in the interest of fairness we should all to : "I will tell you I am very open. I am very transparent. I want to make sure that people are part of the solutions.”

JD1 April 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM
"dance's career...." - that's the problem. He hasn't had a career. He has been a professional student for the entire decade of his twenties - most likely on the public's dime. Instead of working in a variety of schools and systems and gaining respect as a master teacher, he has jumped from job to job collecting titles. If you are counting on some "quality advisors" from within the system to shepherd him along - forget it - there aren't any. In believe the board wanted a puppet and they have found one. Our system is in trouble - children at all levels (GT, LD, ESOL, SPEC NEEDS, 504) are not getting what they deserve. Solutions will not come easy and often buck the status quo. Personnel management within the system is pathetic and this guy has no real experience running a classroom, school or system. It should be an interesting next couple of years as we transition to new standards, new testing ...etc.
Tim April 16, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Now now Jeff, we wouldn't want to actually give the guy a chance would we? Heaven forbid, he may even succeed - as those who chose him expect.
Cindy Floyd April 16, 2012 at 04:46 PM
I agree with your thinking Mr. Smith...GIVE DANCE A CHANCE. Isn't that what each of us would want for ourselves?
Jimmy April 16, 2012 at 10:40 PM
He deserves a chance. He also needs to look hard at discipline in schools. I remember like it was yesterday, when my kids went to PHMS, the first thing out of the principal's mouth at back to school night for 3 years was the school had less than a 2% suspension rate. What I learned from my children was the rate was so low because even serious violations were treated with a slap on the wrist. The students need to be accountable for breaking the rules. This is one thing Mr Dance needs to address from the start. Good luck Mr Dance.
Paul Amirault April 16, 2012 at 10:58 PM
As the Treasurer of the Perry Hall Recreation Council, I welcome Mr. Dance to show us what he has got. If he is another bureaucrat who lacks simple common sense like his two predecessors, may his term be very short. If not, welcome to Baltimore County and please listen to the people who pay your salary. We simply deserve it.

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