Campaign Update

This campaign has afforded me a first-hand view of the impact every Board of Education vote has in the community.  For example, this week Howard County Council made a bold decision to add $5.1m to the HCPSS budget allocation, avoiding yet another increase in the overall average class size for students.  And, given the issues with capacity and safety, it was the right decision to do something.  Unfortunately, the 24th hour decision will have a ripple affect.  The aforementioned $5.1m is being borrowed from a retired teachers benefits fund; HCPSS has no idea how to fund class sizes for 2019/2020; and we still have a substantial fixed charges deficit to overcome. 

Going forward, Board of Education decisions should be considered using data, performance metrics and must include considering the bigger picture.  Specifically, how will each decision affect the whole Howard County?  This has inspired me to write a plan for increasing our school revenue, beyond County and State funding - until such time as the latter is adjusted to meet the demands of the fastest growing County in the State, whose citizenry is increasingly in need of specialized school programs.

 

Bigot! Racist! Anyone who thinks this should not ever be allowed around our children!

I have been called all of those things in public and private forums.  Why?  Because when asked if I support transgender bathrooms in a k - 12 public school system, I did not give an unqualified "yes".  Equity is considering the needs of all families/children, including the vast majority who do not identify as transgender. No matter the issue, finding solutions that do not divide our county will take courageous, creative and reasonable leaders who are willing to bridge the divide where possible.   And, when made impossible to bridge the divide, good leaders are willing to move forward without the anvil of irrationality causing our failure.

Let's not make the word equity useless, because the spirit of equity is bigger than one issue for the 56K students of Howard County.

Board of Education Election 2018...So What, Part II?

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional. -Roger Crawford

If elected, I commit to considering programs based on what will best afford every one of our students the opportunity reach their potential.  For the special education student, that means that the bare minimum is not enough.  For the average student, that means providing programs and supports outside of the typical STEM college readiness programs.  For the above average and exceptional student, that means community partnerships and low burden programming that affords them access to the wealth of talent and opportunity in the DC Metro area through low cost mentoring, internships and apprenticeship. For students whose home lives and other challenges directly impact their academic success, I will engage with their community and lend my experience (having been that student) to finding solutions that work.  Behavioral modification is short-term.  Healing and restoration lasts. 

Kirwan Commission & Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Funding

The Kirwan Commission effort resulted in the following recommendations, that for the most part are included in HB1415.  I consider all of the following critical to accomplishing real equity and to ensuring that students are life ready. 

The reality:  We cannot fund all of the programs under our existing MOE calculation. 
My position: If elected, I will work with our County, State and community to advance plans addressing the need for State and grant provided fund multipliers.

  • New Teacher Recruitment Program
  • K-8 Literacy Grant Program
  • Mandated Level Funding for Prekindergarten Grant Programs
  • Concentration of Poverty Grants
  • Teaching Fellows for Maryland Scholarship Program
  • Career and Technical Education Grant Program
  • Special Education Study Extension
  • Kirwan Commission Extension

Is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) More of the Same?

The Equality of Opportunity Project asserts that testing outcomes, 65% of the measure of success for ESSA, are the best measure of teacher value.  Specifically the Project states, "We find that students assigned to higher VA teachers are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods, and save more for retirement."

Unfortunately, their assertion is more of the same one-dimensional model on which public school programming has been based for at least 40-years.  Testing in HoCo shows that fully 55% of our children have not attained Level 4 or 5 on PARCC, meaning that they are not meeting expectations in English and Math.  

Is the full weight of that failure on teachers?  Absolutely not.  I believe that it is a product of mandated testing that does not account for Special Education, most General Education and other uniquely gifted children.  If elected, I will support efforts to innovate teaching and instructional programs through cost-effective industry partnerships.  We must see beyond the typical standardized test scores to support the whole child.

Are we losing freedoms in the name of fake diversity?

As I prepare to participate in the upcoming HCPSS focus groups considering equity and climate in the district, I am compelled to consider this question.  In my experience on policy committees, advisory groups and observing public testimonies to the Board of Education, the current climate seems to be one in which the most aggressive, uncivilly passionate or emotional groups control the discussion and therefore the outcome.  

"Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."
Billy Graham

Board of Education Election 2018...So What?

Following a most enjoyable meeting this morning, I was reminded that the results of this Board of Education election will result in four new BOE members and that the most tenured BOE incumbents will each have only two years of service.  Howard County has an opportunity in the upcoming election to elect and entrust candidates whose way of serving and leading will change the status quo.  I encourage everyone of you to consider the candidate's histories, to engage each of us (civilly) in dialogue so that who we are at our cores is the measure with which we are considered.  So what?  To not do so, especially in America's current political climate and with the undercurrents that are working diligently to achieve specific agendas, will impact our families for years to come.  Lets select candidates who are demonstrably above politically expedient rhetoric. Because Every Stakeholder Matters.

County Executive Kittleman's Dilemna

County Executive Kittleman is projecting a 2.2% revenue growth for the County this year.  I am hopeful that his is an extremely conservative projection and that the actual growth proves higher. Regardless, HCPSS will still faces a projected $50m and increasing deficit absent County and State support.  So, what's he to do, because to fully fund HCPSS Operating Budget requests would leave many other county services depleted.  As a BOE member, I will be committed to putting forth recommendation for possible solutions and to determining the efficacy of those ideas through dialogue with the experts.  The good news about not knowing what you don't know, is that the not so obvious questions could lead to solutions that have been overlooked. 

My first recommendation... Executive Kittleman's team should request that the public provide input on spending priorities AND their corresponding cost saving ideas, because we can't have it all. In as much as each citizen makes demands, lets also be willing to take ownership for the outcomes.

My second recommendation...Identify areas of redundant/overlapping/duplicated County dollar allocation across the various programs.  Specifically, identify where there are programs and non-profits requesting increased or new funding from the County to support programs/services/etc. that are already being funded/requested/provided by other County funded programs?  

"The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying."   John C. Maxwell

Let's Move Ahead Together...

The needs of our schools and our community are interdependent, and one will not be successful without success for the other.  Practically every community in the U.S. is experiencing increased needs while also experiencing decreased resources.  So, what are we to do?  Dig our heels in at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum, all the while wasting resources and failing our constituents in some way?  Or, will we think outside of the norm to identify additional resources, innovative ideas and qualified/vetted resource allocation to move Howard County ahead?  If elected, I commit to doing the latter on behalf of those with whom I agree and disagree.  Vote Mavourene for Howard County Board of Education 2018.

"No one will do for you what you need to do for yourself. We cannot afford to be separate. We have to see that all of us are in the same boat. "  Dorothy Height

True equity is impartial.

I applaud our current Board of Education members for their thoughtful February 21 discussion surrounding the World Language Program (5 Elementary), its implementation in Title I schools and their diverse opinions about the efficacy of continuing the World Language Program in this budget climate for HCPSS, when dismantling the program will save an approximate $2.4m.  

Ultimately our Board has voted not to dismantle the World Language Program, which on first glance seems like a victory for those of us seeking equity in access and instructional support in public education.  But is this decision truly impartial and the best one for the neediest students in the near and long term?  I look forward to having this discussion with Howard County voters, because Every Stakeholder Matters.