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Frederick Stichnoth,fred.stichnoth@yahoo.comMarch 30, 2012A forum for the At Large and District 2 Montgomery County Board of Educationcandidates was on held March 26, sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County and the American Association of University Women; and for District2 candidates on March 29, sponsored by The Rockville Community Coalition, incooperation with The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County and The UnitarianUniversalist Church of Rockville. This is a summary of the candidates’ statements.
March 26 ForumOpening statementsLou August, At Large.
Mr. August has been an executive of high-tech companies.MCPS should “leverage its advantages,” including a huge corporate base. MCPS shouldhave mandatory internships and blended e-learning.
Morris Panner, At Large.
Mr. Panner is a lawyer and software entrepreneur, withfour children in MCPS elementary schools. MCPS is on a collision course with a budgetcrisis. We must continue to make investments. As a Board member, he would be moreinvolved and collaborative with State and County officials.
Aryeh Shudofsky, At Large.
Mr. Shudofsky works in the financial servicesindustry, through which he is skilled in budgeting, finance and collaboration. MCPSschools are among the finest in the country. We must be more concerned with life after students finish schools, including their participation as responsible members of society.
Saqib Ali, At Large.
Mr. Ali is a software engineer. He claims to be the mostindependent candidate. The Board has been captive of group-think. This has led to baddecisions: to sue the County Council, to permit dissemination of anti-gay flyers, openmeetings act violations. The other candidates ignore this problem.
Susan Byrne, District 2.
Ms. Byrne would move focus from the budget to qualityeducation, which other jurisdictions accomplish at a lower per capita cost. She has twochildren in MCPS schools – one child not in one of MCPS’ best schools. There are toomany bad schools: we need leadership. MCPS fails black, Hispanic, gifted and talented,and FARMS students. She agrees with Dr. Starr that we have an “adult learning problem.”
Jeanne Ellinport, District 2.
Ms. Ellinport has three children, in high, middle andelementary school, respectively. She has 20 years of experience in education advocacy. She
works in public relations, and did so as Director of Jewish Outreach in the Clinton whitehouse and for the American Red Cross. She is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery. Her goals focus on college and career readiness, narrowing the achievement gap, adequate professional development before curriculum rollout, and restoring teacher creativity.
Fred Evans, District 2.
Mr. Evans was a teacher or principal in Wootton,Rockville and Gaithersburg High Schools and Parkland Middle School. He has experienceand knows the history. His priorities are closing the gap, stopping inter-governmental bickering, and looking hard at the budget.
Rebecca Smondrowski, District 2.
Ms. Smondrowski has children in Grades 6 and9. She has held leadership positions in MCCPTA and has been active in politicalcampaigns. Her goal is to produce well-rounded children. MCPS has lost the definition of the successful student: social and safe. She would expand community outreach, stopteaching to the test, and restore teacher creativity.
Topic: overriding challenge for studentsPanner.
It is hard for students to find their individual paths. Schools must take theindividual into account.
Achievement is correlated with race and class. A student living in Bethesda or Chevy-Chase is fine, but an African-American or Latino is not doing well. We have twoseparate systems, divided by wealth and race.
Students are not offered developmentally-appropriate education, but one-size-fits-all. We must fit programs to students – reach and teach each individual student. Itcan be done, not through more money but leadership.
Students lack a sense of relevancy: that what they are doing leads tosomething. He advocates internships. Many parents prefer gifted and talented classes because students are better behaved; MCPS discriminates against students not in gifted andtalent classes.
Topic: discipline.Shudofsky.
Discipline problems are correlated with the achievement gap. Classengagement is thwarted by teaching to the lowest common denominator. Teaching must bedirected to the ability level of the student (gifted and talented education, for example).
Every child must be invested in where s/he is and where s/he isgoing. In every school, every student must be known by at least one adult. They will feel better, and the achievement gap will “naturally close.”2
Discipline depends on consistency within the school building amongteachers, administrators and parents: all must know the rules. He takes “umbrage” at theline between the west and east county: we don’t have to make that “assumption.”
Every child must have a mentor and feel vested and safe.
Two-thirds of MCPS students are not thriving. They need curriculum, andsocial and emotional support, including social and emotional learning in class. NCLB hasrobbed them of this learning opportunity.
African-Americans and Latinos have disproportionately high suspension rates.They need more support in school. Suspension exacerbates the problems: there is a pipelinefrom suspension to incarceration.
Students need authenticity to remain engaged.
Safety must be an absolute requirement. There should be an individualizedapproach to discipline.
Topic: zero tolerance disciplineAli.
Zero tolerance does not make sense: it is a one-size-fits-all response that leadsto bad outcomes. It affects African-Americans and Latinos disproportionately. MCPSshould have in-school suspensions.
Egregious behavior (weapons, physical attacks, selling drugs) should not betolerated.
Zero tolerance is problem-centered, not solution-centered. Students needsocial and emotional learning.
Schools must focus every day on behavior. He disagrees with zerotolerance.
Topic: evaluation teachers on the basis on student test scoresByrne.
She would rely on MCPS’ professional growth system. Experiencedteachers no longer feel that they are teaching. We must focus on the whole child.
He would not evaluate teachers based on test scores. Rather, he wouldexpect one year’s growth for each student.
Students test scores should be the basis of 20-50 percent of teachers’evaluations. This provides the appropriate incentive to teachers.3

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