You may recall that in the last Board of Education race, I asked the candidates to answer the following question:
Question, "What do you think the job of a Board of Education member is?" Please address the following:
1. What power does the position convey?
2. What is the best use of that power?
3. To whom is the Board of Education member responsible?
One of the candidates who scored high marks on this was Bess Altwerger, who was subsequently elected to the board. Last night she posted some personal opinions on what she looks for (as an individual citizen) in a board of education candidate. They were so good that I asked to share them here.
Here's my personal list for supporting candidates:
1. You believe that a quality public school system is dependent upon a diverse, well-prepared, well-supported and fairly compensated teaching force.
2. You will not support public tax dollars going to private charter management companies or vouchers for private schools in our county.
3. You support policies and procedures that will ensure a safe, healthy environment for every child and adult in every county school,
4. You support the goal of establishing school capacities, class sizes and teacher supports that will optimize learning and teaching.
5. You believe in providing an equitable education for all children, with greater support for greater need. Note: Equitable is not the same as equal.
6. You believe in providing inspiring, challenging and developmentally appropriate curriculum that best meets the needs of diverse students.
7. You do not support high stakes testing, test-driven instruction and test-based teacher evaluation.
8. You strongly support a democratic, transparent and inclusive school system that encourages and responds to community input.
9. You believe that children with special needs have a right to the best possible education with appropriate levels of support, teachers who are not overworked, and parents who are involved and respected.
10. You value and support racial and economic diversity in our schools and will not tolerate expressions or acts of racial, ethnic or religious bigotry by students or employees.
11. Work to reduce and eliminate disparities in school suspension rates and support "restorative justice practices" that address underlying reasons for negative behaviors.
I probably left out some things that I'll add later, but I can personally support any candidates of any party or political affiliation who can sincerely say "YES" to all of the above. Approaches, strategies and details are ALWAYS open for respectful discussion, debate and negotiation!
Howard County Parent and education advocate Leslie Kornreich added one more item which harkens back to my original question in 2014:
I would add that Board candidates should understand that they are the superintendent's EMPLOYER and not the other way around.
There was a candidate forum last night sponsored by the Ellicott City and Western Howard County Democratic Club. If you weren't able to attend you can find some excellent live-tweeting by @courtneywatson1 and @beau1u . And there are plenty more forums coming up. So commit to coming out for one. Get educated!
- March 16th, Wednesday 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, Townhall (by Pravin Ponnuri) for all challengers at Linden Hall, Dorsey Search Village Center
- March 19, Saturday from 1-5 p.m. League of Women Voter's forum @ Banneker Room in the George Howard Building at 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, 21043
- April 5, Tuesday @ 6:30 pm by Southern Howard County Civic Association, Inc @ North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, North Laurel, Md. 20723
- April 6, Wednesday 7:00 PM Candidate's forum by Mount Hebron-Orchards Community Association at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church.
- April 9th Saturday 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM (Tentative) Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club (TMDC) of Howard forum
- April 11th, Monday from 7 -9 pm special education focused BOE candidates forum at the Howard County Community College, Duncan Hall building, DH 100 - Kittleman multi-purpose room.