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05

The Most Active Threads Since Friday

by Jeff Steele last modified Feb 05, 2024 07:24 PM

The topics with the most engagement since my last blog post included Dr. Monifa McKnight's departure from MCPS, a pregnancy after a breakup, an effort to recall Charles Allen, and an unwelcome encounter with a person knitting in the OBGYN waiting room.

The most active thread over the weekend is really the continuation of a previous most active thread. The earlier thread was the one about the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education asking for the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight. Friday afternoon, the board and Dr. McKnight mutually agreed to separate. As a result, a new thread titled, "Board Fires Dr. McKnight" and posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" forum became the most active over the weekend. The thread was originally titled, "Board Fires Monifa" but I changed it because, as I said when I discussed the earlier thread, the use of first names for women, especially Black women, is a means of diminishing them and is often tinged with racism and sexism. A number of other area school superintendents have recently left their positions in controversial circumstances and not a single one was routinely referred to by first name. I don't see why Dr. McKnight should be treated differently. Even the revised title was criticized as inaccurate because, strictly speaking, Dr. McKnight resigned rather than being fired. As for the thread itself, it mostly rehashed the substance of previous threads. Dr. McKnight has been a lightening rod of criticism on DCUM with posters blaming her for the many ills they see affecting MCPS. Most recently, Dr. McKnight has been criticized for the handling of complaints of harassment and bullying by Principal Joel Beidleman. Beidleman was was promoted despite being under investigation and subsequent investigations found that MCPS had not properly followed procedures. It is unclear how much knowledge Dr. McKnight had of the Beidleman situation, but the Board — which listed "ensuring compliance with internal policies" as its first priority going forward — seems to suggest that she was being held responsible. Many posters argued that replacing McKnight is not going far enough and that school board members should resign as well. There is also considerable discussion in the thread about Alexandra Robbins whose article in the Washington Post first shed light on the allegations against Beidleman and his promotion. Many posters were thankful for her reporting and credited her with precipitating Dr. McKnight's departure. On the other hand, Dr. McKnight had a strong contingent of supporters, many of whom believed that Dr. McKnight was being treated more harshly than male or White superintendents. Some posters were focused on looking forward rather than back and were more interested in discussing possible candidates to replace Dr. McKnight. The proposals for new superintendents were closely linked to opinions about the future direction of the school system. In particular, there seemed to be widespread hope that a new leader would clean house of a number of other administrators. One issue that may affect the choice of a new superintendent is that all large school systems, and even some smaller ones, seem to be facing the same sort of serious challenges. Many superintendents have left or been forced out. As such, the job may not be as desirable as some might think and, as a result, may not attract the best candidates.

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