Maryland State Board of Education Contemplates Future of State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury
The Maryland State Board of Education faces a critical decision this year regarding the potential extension of State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury’s contract. As the state’s multi-billion-dollar education reform plan continues to be implemented, Choudhury’s role and continuity become increasingly significant. While Choudhury is praised for his intelligence, policy knowledge, and dedication to students, he has also faced criticism for his limited collaboration and strained relationships with education advocates and lawmakers. As the board weighs its decision, the future of Maryland’s education system hangs in the balance.
The Current State of Affairs:
As the incumbent state superintendent, Mohammed Choudhury assumed the position in July 2021, succeeding former superintendent Karen B. Salmon. During his tenure, Choudhury has earned recognition for his intellect, commitment to students, and policy expertise. However, concerns have been raised about his limited engagement with stakeholders, leading to strained relationships with education advocates and lawmakers.
Chaudhury has been avoiding local reporters for months when questioned about a variety of educational topics such as falling test scores.
The Decision-Making Process:
Choudhury’s current contract, which carries a base salary of $310,000, expires in June 2024. Although the decision on his reappointment is not imminent, the 14-member state board must consider whether to approve a new four-year contract. Choudhury is required to notify the board in writing by July 1 if he wishes to be considered for reappointment. The board will review his request during a September meeting, taking into account the evaluations from the previous three years, among other pertinent information.
Support for Choudhury:
Despite the concerns raised, State Board of Education Chair Clarence Crawford and Vice Chair Susan Getty express support for Choudhury’s leadership and his work at the Maryland Department of Education. They believe his intelligence, vision, and exemplary review process make him the ideal candidate to lead the implementation of the Blueprint education reform plan.
Potential for Longest Tenure:
If the board approves Choudhury’s reappointment, he could serve the longest tenure as superintendent since Nancy Grasmick, who held the position for 20 years until her retirement in 2011. Interestingly, the board’s meetings take place in a building in Baltimore named after Grasmick, highlighting her significant contributions to Maryland’s education system.
Criticism and Concerns:
Not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for Choudhury’s leadership style. Former high-level education official Robert Eccles, who left the department last year, testified before the board, highlighting concerns about toxic work environments, loss of experienced staff, and micromanagement under Choudhury’s leadership. Eccles and other former employees submitted a letter to the department and the board earlier this year, outlining their grievances, but have yet to receive a response.
The Impact on Collaboration and Communication:
One area where Choudhury’s leadership has drawn criticism is in the lack of collaboration and communication. Stakeholders, such as the Maryland Family Network, express concern over the reduced level of engagement and collaboration with the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Division. The absence of open dialogue hampers progress and affects the collective effort to improve the lives of young children and their families.
The Importance of Communication:
Senate Majority Leader Nancy King emphasizes the critical role of communication in successfully implementing the Blueprint education reform plan. Choudhury’s communication style has drawn scrutiny, with concerns raised about rushed testimony during a budget hearing and delays in submitting reports. Effective communication is vital to ensure that Maryland’s education system aligns with legislative requirements.
Disputes over communication and coordination have also emerged between the Department of Education and the Accountability and Implementation Board. MSDE officials require additional time to thoroughly review the Blueprint plans before presenting recommendations to the accountability panel. Initially, the board had anticipated approving certain implementation plans this month, but the decision has now been postponed until July. Isiah “Ike” Leggett, the Board Chair and former Montgomery County Executive, referred to the miscommunication as an avoidable mistake.
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The MEN was founded by John Huber in the fall of 2020. It was founded to provide a platform for expert opinion and commentary on current issues that directly or indirectly affect education. All opinions are valued and accepted providing they are expressed in a professional manner. The Maryland Education Network consists of Blogs, Videos, and other interaction among the K-12 community.