Board Member Response
My husband and I have been educators in Worcester County Public Schools for 26 years, and our two children went through Worcester County Public schools from pre-kindergarten until 12th grade.
For several decades Worcester County Public Schools have earned accolades and attracted the best teachers in the region. This did not happen by chance; it took purposeful dedicated work. Worcester County citizens, parents and educators who have dedicated their working lives to researching and implementing best practices for children worked in collaboration with local elected officials to build our exceptional public school system. A well-funded and well-run public-school system is crucial to our local economy, especially in Worcester County with our need for trade jobs such as HVAC technicians, plumbers, electricians, as well as qualified health care professionals, teachers, small business owners, farmers, the list could go on.
Prior to her election to the Worcester County School Board, I have followed comments made by Kate Addis in this paper during interviews held with all candidates running for Board of Education. I have continued to follow her comments during broadcasted board meetings, and finally in her letter to the editor published in this paper last week. In that letter she claims she was ignored and ridiculed during the last Board of Education meeting. Having watched the meeting it is clear that Ms. Addis was neither ignored or ridiculed, instead, fellow board members simply did not agree with her motions or comments. That is actually how a local and national democracy works, people are free to make statements and others can choose to disagree. This disagreement does not mean that other board members are not fulfilling their duty to the citizens of Worcester County. The other members of the Worcester County Board of Education are some of the most respected citizens of Worcester County with years of dedicated service to the students and families of Worcester County. My hope is that going forward Ms. Addis will refrain from this unproductive blaming and instead focus on the collaborative, focused work required to maintain the level of excellence that Worcester County Public Schools and our students and families deserve.
School Staff Should Carry
When will the Worcester County Board of Education harden our schools? All federal facilities are hardened having armed security as well as the Supreme Court, Capital Building, airports, the TSA sporting events, local police stations, etc. etc. etc. Even the recent Board of Education meeting had armed police stationed in the hallway. How is it that our children are not secured with armed personnel?
I believe that an armed, uniformed person will be taken out first by a deranged shooter allowing him/her to proceed, freely in the carnage. Volunteer school staff members can be trained in the proper, safe use of a firearm and be permitted to conceal carry in our schools. This would be the greatest deterrence to an assassin for he/she will not know where return fire will come from. The National Rifle Association has a program specifically designed to train school personnel and a program called “School Shield,” which will help defray the cost of this security. Many schools throughout the country have signed on to this program. Some shallow thinkers claim that this would lead to a shootout. Yes, of course, but the difference is that the bullets will be going the other way greatly shortening the carnage. These shallow thinkers don’t and will not understand that a bad man with a gun is always stopped by a good man with a gun. They cannot get past the emotion and thought of guns in our schools will make them safer for our children. They are also consumed with the optics of gun toting staff members. Hey, how does the optics of our children’s blood all over a classroom and children hysterically crying appeal to you? Trained staff members in our schools will be able to save lives by saving the precious minutes it will take for the police to arrive, carrying guns, to stop the killing. How is it that it is ok for the police to arrive with guns in the “gun free zone” but it is not ok for school staff volunteers to already be at ground zero ready to save lives?
The other suggestion I have is to take down those maniac attracting signs that read: “this is a gun free zone.” More gun violence has taken place in gun free zones then in any other areas of our country. They are danger zones. Again, shallow thinking people feel good about these signs. Now, think deeper and try to get into the mind of a psychotic would-be mass murderer. Do you really “think” that a nut will be persuaded in any way shape or form not to kill a dozen or so of our beloved children because he or she read this sign? The people that are persuaded are the very people that could shoot back and stop the mayhem. These signs give the assassin a secure feeling that they will not be shot.
Let’s do this now before it becomes our turn to cry. Let us learn from others’ horrible misfortunes. Keep in mind the Boy Scout’s motto, “be prepared” because right now we are not.
Dennis W Evans
School Board Meeting
Tuesday, March 21, 2023 was one of two nighttime meetings held by the Worcester County Board of Education and was well attended. Many people thanked the board for the oppo1tunity to attend a night meeting. The audio system was in and out during the entire meeting and many comments from Board members and the public were inaudible, thus the live stream of the meeting was poor, and if you tried to follow via closed caption, possibly misleading. What I was able to hear and observe was upsetting at times.
A mother and father from Ocean Pines with a family of five children spoke, the mother relayed that her 5-year-old corrected her when she called him mommy’s boy, stating he had to be mommy’s girl now. As a result, they have pulled all five of their children from Worcester County public schools which has placed a great hardship on their family. A second grade teacher came forward to make her comments to the board; she stated among other remarks that the mother’s statement was not true. This teacher must have been nervous about speaking because Superintendent Taylor gave her two thumbs up as she finished her comments.
Our newest board member, Katie Addis asked to discuss several issues, the first was that she had been asked about several of the school incidents we all are heard about and discuss each week now. This incident involved a county deputy who was injured at Snow Hill Middle School and transported to the hospital. Mrs. Addis motioned that the board members receive some type of communication when these incidents happen so that board members, elected by the people in their community to represent them, can offer an intelligent response, possibly; Yes, I am aware of the incident and the board is responding and handling that particular incident. I heartily agree, I want all board members apprised of these incidents. Mrs. Addis was chided for bringing these incidents up during the public meeting and was directed to follow Board procedure, which is to direct all inquires about these type incidents to Dr. Annette Wallace, which Mrs. Addis stated she had done. Motion denied.
Mrs. Addis then motioned to delay adopting the current proposed budget, which she felt they had not all adequately reviewed and discussed as a board. That is the budget for which we, the taxpayers are footing 82% of the funding, I think we are entitled to see how this money is being used and I don’t mean in generalized categories/expenditures. I want to know if we purchased another RV for the board in lieu of a better audio system etc. Thank you Katie Addis for representing us. Mrs. Addis stated she had spent many hours reviewing the budget before the board meeting. Mrs. Addis was admonished and advised to do her homework. Superintendent Taylor commented that this was wasting time, I assume he meant the board’s and the public present at the meeting. Motion denied.
Mrs. Addis then motioned that the board send a second letter of opposition to the state regarding HB 119. HB 119 basically usurped Maryland counties authority to set their own curriculum in regard to Md Comprehensive Health Framework. HB 119 has been amended, among other changes, it will punish local school boards who do not comply by reducing the state funding by 10% and then an additional 10% if they still do not comply. Additionally, the amendment has nullified the opt-out option, it must now meet the requirements and definition of the state. After some discussion by Mrs. McComas, who would vote against this motion, Dr. Andes seconded this motion, and stated the letter must be sent immediately. Motion passed.
With reference to the Opt-Out option, all parents should contact their legislators, senators and school board members to insist that this be an Opt-In option. This Opt-In option should not be limited to the Md. Comprehensive Health Framework curriculum, many times parents find out in conversation after the fact, that their child was introduced to a subject or activity that they would not have chosen to have their child participate in.
In the future I hope to see more discussion and cooperation among the board and more interaction with parents. We have elected you the board to facilitate the education of our children. We all want our children to be well educated, productive and prepared for their future. Working with each other, this should be our common goal.
Wind Farm Realities
As an older citizen with few illusions about how the world works, I am not surprised when I read press releases or letters extolling the benefits of offshore wind farms written by employees of the foreign wind companies. There is a lot of money to be had from the wind farm business in the form of billions of government subsidies and the higher electric rates that will follow.
But as an environmental professional, I am disheartened when ordinary people write letters supporting the construction of these giant wind turbines in the ocean.
Clean energy is good, but if these wind farms get built off our coast, the huge commitment to this technology will permanently impact the ocean and will someday be seen as a big mistake.
To understand why these turbines are such a bad idea, all we have to do is to balance the dubious claim that these wind machines will do anything substantial to change the climate, against the real environmental harm they pose, not only to our local ecosystem, but also in faraway places throughout the world.
One wind turbine uses about one ton of rare earth minerals. Mining these minerals is a dirty business, with devastating impacts on the environment and human health, which is why there is very little mining — and no processing — in western countries. China accounts for 63 percent of the world’s rare earth mining, 85 percent of rare earth processing, and 92 percent of rare earth magnet production.
Places where rare earths are mined and refined are known as “sacrifice zones,” where the economic benefits are deemed to outweigh the environmental harms. Such zones are also found in Africa and Vietnam.
The consequences for human health in these sacrifice zones are enormous. Baotau, a city in China with a population of 2.5 million, is just south of the largest rare earth mine in the world. The ore is processed at massive industrial complexes within the city, and one in seven residents has cancer. One in seven.
Crippling bone deformities are rampant in the area, caused by the air and water pollution from elements that are brought to the surface during mining. The Chinese government has built many 20-story hospitals in Baotau that are dedicated solely to treating bone disorders.
Until methods are developed to mine and process these elements without all the environmental damage, it makes sense to ban their use for permanent industrial applications like wind turbines. Meanwhile, there are many clean energy solutions that are far less damaging.
One recent letter promoting these wind farms said all we’ll see is “thumbnail-sized” turbines on the horizon. But I’ll see a lot more than that.
I’ll see a wall of industrial junk cluttering one of our remaining unspoiled views of the natural world. I’ll see dozens of red lights blinking on the nighttime horizon,
And, with my mind’s eye, I’ll see all the sickness and suffering that allows comfortable Americans to indulge their misguided energy fantasies.
Fully Fund Our Schools
As Maryland is moving towards a world class education system, we need to make sure Worcester County is not left behind. To do this Worcester County must be a full and enthusiastic participant in the implementation of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future reforms.
The Blueprint reforms are not an unfunded mandate but a continued partnership between the state and the counties to provide the best education for every Maryland student. These reforms include building a robust and quality early education structure; developing a plan to increase the starting salary of teachers to a professional level and creating professional career ladders for teachers and administrators that they so rightly deserve; creating a career and college pathway system that ensures every student leaves high school prepared to enter a satisfying career; and building communities that have the support systems required to help all students and families, especially those with extraordinary struggles.
As budget requests are considered, we should remember that quality education is the cornerstone of a thriving community. Therefore, for the sake of our students and our teachers I ask the commissioners to fully fund the WCBOE FY24 budget.
Festival Note Of Thanks
On behalf of the Art League of Ocean City, thank you to everyone who supported and made the 7th Annual Ocean City Film Festival a huge success, including our generous sponsors, attendees, filmmakers, committee, volunteers, moderators, and staff. A special shoutout to our headliner, the legendary John Waters, who performed to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night, and to our title sponsors — the Town of Ocean City, the Maryland Film Office, and Ocean Downs Casino — who helped make our festival happen.
The Film Festival was truly a citywide happening and a real boost to the off-season in Ocean City. A big thank you to all of the venues that screened the films and made this year’s festival a success — Flagship Cinemas, Fox Gold Coast Theater, Ocean City Performing Arts Center, Ocean Downs Casino, Seacrets Morley Hall, Residence Inn, and Nick’s. And also to the local businesses who supported us with the popular after-parties — Residence Inn by Marriott, the Princess Royale Hotel, Jay’s Café, Holiday Inn Coral Reef, Seacrets, and the Cambria Hotel.
Thank you to the diverse group of filmmakers from around the world, many who attended, who allowed us to share 70 compelling films to more than 1,000 attendees. The festival showcased industry professionals as well as university students, young filmmakers, and local talent and gave them opportunities to network with others who share their passion.
Thank you to our additional supporting sponsors: OCMD Hotels, Atlantic Planning & Development, Good Clean Fun Life Productions, Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, WRDE, Bank of Ocean City, Blue Fish, West O Bottle Shop, Shore United Bank, and Fager’s Island. Also, Papi’s Tacos, Coins Pub, Carousel Resort, Truist Bank, Taylor Bank, Town of Berlin, and Worcester County Tourism. And to our media sponsors: OCToday, Coastal Point, The Dispatch, Ocean 98.1, Ocean City.com, and Unscene Productions.
Finally, to our audiences who laughed, shed a tear, asked insightful questions, and enthusiastically applauded, we appreciate you choosing to spend your time with us.
We invite you to join us for our monthly film nights at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th St., where you can experience independent film screenings year round. Look for the next Ocean City Film Challenge in summer 2023.
(Thaler is the executive director of the Art League of Ocean City, while B.L. Strang-Moya is the creative director of the Ocean City Film Festival.)
Speed Camera Site Idea
Since the Town of Berlin is exploring locations for speed control cameras I believe Old Ocean City Boulevard between Route 113 and Route 50 should be added to the list. The road is less than half a mile from Stephen Decatur High and Middle Schools. Also on the street are Atlantic General Hospital and two veterinarians’ offices.
Even though the speed limit is 40 mph, I have seen many vehicles speeding over the limit. At time it is almost suicidal to exit the medical parking lots, especially those of the veterinarians. Maybe if the pockets of some of the speeders were emptied they would learn to slow down.