Marian L. Greenblatt and Suzanne Peyser, who pushed for changes in instruction during some tumultuous years on the Montgomery County Board of Education, ended their terms last night by saying their efforts had reversed a "tide of permissive excesses."
Greenblatt, a member for eight years, and Peyser, who served one four-year term, made the remarks to a standing-room-only crowd at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville.
New board members Mary Margaret Slye and Sharon DiFonzo were installed at the meeting, as was board member Blair Ewing, elected last month to an unprecedented third term.
Greenblatt and Peyser -- who were isolated in their last term, and who both decided not to seek reelection this year -- served on the board during the years that Montgomery County faced a myriad of problems, including severe budget constraints and a declining enrollment.
The board's decision in 1981 to close 28 schools generated harsh criticism, particularly against Greenblatt, who pushed for changes in boundaries and school busing patterns that some said were an affront to racial integration.
Greenblatt said last night: "Nine years ago, when I announced I was running for the Board of Education . . . , I said over and over again that something was not right and that I was trying to reverse the tide of permissive excesses which were destroying our schools."
She said, "The liberals had pushed education so far off base, that its effectiveness had plummeted."
Peyser, a former teacher, was elected as an ally of Greenblatt and others who were often referred to as conservatives who had been elected to the board in 1978 advocating a back-to-basics approach.
Last night, she praised Greenblatt.
"The conservative board, led by Marion Greenblatt, did things never before done in Montgomery County," said Peyser, citing a reduction in class size, increased funds for textbooks and system-wide final exams.
"Students know they are in school to learn, and we are seeing the results," Peyser said.
Greenblatt's and Peyser's remarks were the postscripts to an evening in which newly installed board members asked for cooperation and community participation to help them lead the school district to educational excellence.
Ewing, whose tenure includes the years Greenblatt has served, and who often disagreed with her approach, said he hoped the next four years would bring "careful debate and thoughtful deliberation" from board members.
"We need to have high standards, but we need to make certain the students get help to reach those high standards," Ewing said.
"We need to support what we have done with integration. Not because it's required by law . . ., not because there could be a lawsuit . . . , but because it is right."