A new coalition of conservatives and moderates, including the president of the Montgomery County school board, has banded together to defeat what it described as a "dangerous" slate of four liberal candidates for the school board.
The new committee, Montgomery Citizens for Serious Education, said it will work to defeat the four-member Education Political Action Committee (EDPAC) slate by supporting the other four candidates in the race. However, those four, two incumbents and two self-styled moderates, have refused to form their own slate and the incumbents are not running together.
Backers of the new political action committee, which in addition to board President Eleanor Zappone includes three board candidates who lost in the primary, said they support the educational philosophy of the current board majority.
They said they formed a coalition because they were "scared" of a sweep of the four seats by the EDPAC nominees, who finished first through fourth in the 15-person primary. They predicted that droves of students would leave public schools for private institutions if the EDPAC candidates won, and that the emphasis on back-to-basics and discipline that has marked the school system during the conservatives' tenure would be erased.
"If EDPAC is elected there will be chaos out there," said Norman Blumenthal, executive director of the committee. Blumenthal, a Chevy Chase resident who was active in the Rosemary Hill school closure fight, is a judge with the Federal Communications Commision.
"Who are they?" asked Tim O'Shea after being informed that the new group had endorsed him. The committee also endorsed O'Shea's running mate, Barry Klein, and incumbents Carol Wallace and Joseph Barse.
"It would have been nice if someone was going to say something about us as a group that they first would have contacted us," said O'Shea, who along with Klein announced recently they would not run with Barse and Wallace because of continued differences with the two incumbents. "I would not call EDPAC dangerous . . . and I do not necessarily want to see EDPAC defeated by the same kind of block that Barry and I are opposed to."
Wallace, who ran on the conservative slate in 1978 but who has been actively trying to separate herself from the current majority, said she was shocked by Zappone's endorsement. As recently as Thursday, Zappone, who has clashed with Wallace over a number of procedural issues, said she did not know whether she would vote for Wallace on Nov. 2.
"I don't understand this group's logic or rational," said EDPAC candidate Marilyn Praisner. "We've agreed with at least two candidates [Klein and O'Shea] that most our educational positions are the same."
The other EDPAC candidates are Odessa Shannon, James Cronin and Robert Shoenberg.