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This Democrat is voting Hogan — for accountability in schools

I’m responding to the recent article, “Republican’s edge surprises pollsters” (Oct. 13). I never, ever, thought I would hear myself say, “I’m going to vote for a Republican.” Yet I’m going to vote for Larry Hogan.

It’s not easy because so many Republican positions and policies are so far from governing for the benefit of the American people that I question my sanity. But there is one issue that I cannot get past. I have watched city schools fail hundreds of thousands of children since I moved back to Baltimore in 1986. And I mean “failed,” not just “didn’t provide an adequate education,” as though they magically turned out fine as adults. Those children didn’t turn out fine, and the Baltimore we struggle with is the result.

I watched last April as the Democratically-controlled General Assembly passed the “Protect Our Schools Act” at the behest of the teachers’ unions. That euphemistically-named bill did not protect our schools. It only weakened accountability of local school systems and strengthened unions. To his credit, Governor Hogan vetoed the bills.

For all of Ben Jealous’ high-minded and powerful ideals, he fails at the most important place of all. He is proud of his endorsement by the teachers’ unions, and his website is all about school funding — without a word on accountability. It is the Democratic caricature: spending without holding the beneficiary accountable.

I’ve watched this go on too long, through Parris Glendening’s funding increase, through the Thornton Commission’s funding increases, and I’ve seen the results, or really, the lack of results. I hope it’s clear that I am not blaming the schools for every problem, and I am not blaming every teacher for every education failure, nor am I blaming our students, and finally, I am not blaming Democrats alone for this dismal state of affairs.

I am saying that If we are to change life outcomes for our most disadvantaged and under-educated citizens, we have to make quality education our number one priority. That means holding our educators responsible for results and for putting children, not adults, first. If that takes a Republican governor, so be it. It’s that important.

Ed Rutkowski, Baltimore

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