Monday, July 18, 2022

Core Values


You may recall now-retired radio journalist Chris Core, who gave daily commentary on WTOP under the title, “Core Values.” Clearly I’m snagging his concept. The values, however, are all mine.


I said I’d write about the Board of Education race when I wrote last about values. The more I think about it, one of the most telling differences between this crop of candidates is whether they frame themselves as running because they are for something or against something.

I am most drawn to the candidates who have clearly articulated what and who they support. I find the candidates who have targeted their energies into what they are against not just uninspiring but in some cases, actually dangerous. I see quite clearly where they could do significant harm to students, teachers, and our school community.

  • Since I think schools are for all children, I’m looking for candidates who share that value. That means clearly articulated support for LGBTQ+ students, special needs students, Black and Brown students, students of all religions, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Not just lip service, mind you, but understanding and promoting programs/supports/curriculum that lift up these students.
  • I believe that telling the truth about history makes for stronger students and, eventually, a stronger nation. I’m looking for candidates who support teachers and librarians in teaching the uncomfortable topics right along with the straightforward ones.
  • As a parent and a lifelong early childhood educator I know how crucial social-emotional skills are to school and life success. Social-emotional learning at every level supports student mental health as well as academic success. In my mind, a candidate for BOE should understand and support that.
  • After writing for over ten years about community issues, I’m concerned about the disparity between different areas of the county when it comes to infrastructure and the physical condition of school buildings. Are candidates willing to look at these disparities honestly and support investment in traditionally neglected areas? 
  • Lastly, I care a lot about how the BOE functions in relation to eachother, the community, and the school employees they are running to serve. Does the candidate’s philosophy (and behavior on the campaign trail) tell me that they would show respect, work collaboratively, be willing to learn new things and/or entertain a variety of opinions in making decisions?
In addition to how my own values have shaped my assessment of the candidates, there’s one simple but sometimes overlooked question: do the candidates understand what the BOE position truly entails? Trust me, in every election some of them do not. A long time ago I ran a survey for candidates that went like this:

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?

It was truly educational. In most fields you can’t get hired if you don’t understand how the job works. This is unfortunately not true for BOE. Do they have a clear understanding of this and are they coming to this challenge with the expertise and experience necessary?

In conclusion, the candidates who have my support* are ones who have made their campaigns about supporting, accepting, including, building, collaborating. I guess you could say those are my core values.

*It’s pretty late in the game, I know, but if you still haven’t voted and are looking for more guidance on this race - - reach out to me through the blog. I don’t see myself as being an official endorsing body but I’m happy to share my opinions privately.

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