Montgomery County school board member Marian Greenblatt, still smarting from her abortive bid for the Republican nomination for Congress, said yesterday that she will remain on the board and work to retain its conservative approach to education.
Greenblatt, who had made no public appearances since her stunning loss a week earlier to Elizabeth Spencer, her philosophical foe on the school board, said she seriously considered suggestions that she resign.
"Certainly the prospect of continued personal attacks does not warm my heart toward public service," she said at a press conference. But she will serve out her term, which runs through 1984, because "I do not want to see all this progress stopped and revert back to the old permissive ways . . . There is a story that has to be told.
"We haven't done a very good public relations job," she said, adding that "there has been a distortion in the press about what has been the impact of this board."
Greenblatt criticized the press generally and The Washington Post specifically for what she said was allowing the emotional debate over school closings to obscure the board's achievements. Those accomplishments, she said, included reducing class size; increasing from 44 percent to 85 percent the teachers who have graduate degrees; doubling money for textbooks from $8 to $15 per student; instituting special programs for children with drug problems, and creating system-wide final exams.
She had little to say about her loss to Spencer, who resigned from the board six weeks before the primary and wrested the nomination from Greenblatt, who had been campaigning for the post more than a year.
Greenblatt apologized for refusing to make any statements on the election until yesterday, saying she was "physically and emotionally exhausted and needed a rest."
Her husband, Mickey, called the primary vote "a cold bath" that left her campaign an unanticipated $20,000 in debt. "We thought that we were going through to November and that contributions would pick up," he said.
While Greenblatt defended the record of the board, of which she has been the most outspoken and controversial member, she stopped short of saying she would endorse or campaign for either Joseph Barse or Carol Wallace, the two incumbents who survived a primary dominated by a liberal slate of candidates. In recent months, the solid conservative bloc, which has included Greenblatt, Barse and Wallace, has often been at odds.
Two more of Greenblatt's conservative board colleagues, president Eleanor Zappone and vice president Suzanne Peyser, attended Greenblatt's press conference and echoed her criticisms of the press.
Later they conferred with two members of a moderate slate of school board candidates who are in the runoff election along with the two conservative incumbents and four liberals.
An important factor in the campaign may be if those moderates, Barry Klein and Tim O'Shea, are supported by the board incumbents, and/or link up with the incumbents Barse and Wallace to form a slate. Although Klein and O'Shea showed up at Greenblatt's press conference, O'Shea said the possibility of a conservative-moderate slate was a "long shot."
"I want to know how you are going to vote," Peyser said to Klein and O'Shea, noting that "at one point" Klein and O'Shea "were highly critical of the board. Since then they have toned down their criticism."
Before showing up at Greenblatt's press conference yesterday, Klein and O'Shea held their own, at which they lambasted the "demagogic attitude" of EDPAC, the committee that supported the four ballot-leading, liberal board candidates.
O'Shea, an executive with Westinghouse, said EDPAC's campaign appealed to "anger and resentment against the board." Klein, a Defense Department physicist, said the public is being deceived into thinking that "all the problems were created by the school board."
Informed of Klein and O'Shea's comments, Marilyn Praisner, who led all candidates in last week's balloting, said, "that sounds like a Marian Greenblatt statement. Klein and O'Shea have moved from being very critical of the conservative board . . . . I will leave it to others to speculate as to why."
The EDPAC-endorsed slate of Praisner, Odessa Shannon, James Cronin and Robert Shoenberg led the field of 15 candidates in last week's primary. Those four, along with Barse, Wallace, O'Shea and Klein, who finished fifth through eighth respectively, are vying for four spots on the board in the Nov. 2 general election. A sweep by the EDPAC slate would end the seven-member board's conservative majority.