Every School, Every Student Matters

Dice? Lottery? Some folks seem intent on playing games, instead of focusing on the complex challenges and important work of serving all MCPS students well. Ensuring that every one of them, every day, feels safe, welcome and valued in our schools, that every student is empowered, encouraged and set up for success.

There are those on social media mischaracterizing a tiny piece of one email written during my years of work advocating with and for MCPS students, teachers and schools. Using labels and name-calling to distract from the fact that I know a TON about this school system and they don’t. Using labels, fear-mongering and half-truths to try and influence opinion, instead of facts, data and the daily lived experience of our 166,200+ students.

What sets me apart as a candidate in this crowded at-large field? A decade of substantive work supporting of Montgomery County Public Schools and our students: Engaging, learning, working and advocating for all students. All schools. Fighting for a strong curriculum. Positive school climate. Safety. Transparency. Family engagement. Empowering students. Mental wellness. Diversity and inclusion. Better buildings. Special needs. The arts. Eliminating toxic locker room culture. Trauma-informed practices. Sustainability. Access. EXCELLENCE. Building positive relationships and a reputation as a thoughtful, constructive, reliable leader who understands that it’s not about taking credit. It’s about getting things done.

Don’t just take my word for it. Look me up. You’ll find a LOT about my work supporting our students and schools – in front of the Board of Education, the County Council, and the Maryland General Assembly. Even in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. For years. Lots of you remember my 3 years as MCCPTA VP Legislation/Advocacy – working to empower parents, students, teachers and staff to understand a wide range of issues and effectively speak to those they care about, walking the halls of Annapolis, taking groups to testify on too many bills to count, raising awareness.

Here’s the thing. I truly wish for a system in which everyone cares as much about every school as they do about their own. In which a student’s zip code is irrelevant to the quality of the classes they take and the building in which they take them. In which income isn’t used to disparage, label and stereotype students and families

Lottery??? It’s not even in there.

Some folks circulated two sentences from an email I wrote two years ago to characterize me as “pro-lottery.” Ask yourself - what have those throwing out names and labels, those rumor-mongering, done in the past 10 years to advocate for kids and schools? For your kids and their schools? How much do they know about the nation’s 13th largest school system? My advocacy didn’t start with anger or self-interest. It started with intentional work to get to know all about our entire school system, not just the schools my kid went to, and a real interest in constructively engaging to make our schools better for every student.

Context is important, right? It seems to be missing from those SM posts. So here it is. My email was written after reviewing many, many public comments submitted as the Board was considering a revision to policy FAA. The change, proposed by students, was to add the word “especially” to the criterion requiring the Board to “strive to create a diverse student body” when considering the sites of new schools, changes to school boundaries, and changes to school Cluster assignments. Many of the comments submitted to the Board were toxic, some outright offensive. While some commenters were thoughtful and civil, stereotypes and implicit bias were very well represented. Here’s the entire text of my September 2018 email:

“What those email snips show clearly is that MCPS families don't look at MCPS as a system -- they look at it as "my school/your school".

Wouldn't it be interesting if NOBODY knew which school in the county their student would attend.... if every year, or every time you got ready to move to the next school in the link --ES, MS, HS, --it was a role [roll] of the dice? Once you were in your assigned school, that was it -- school assignment stability.

Attitudes and priorities would be VERY different.

Such a sense of entitlement in some of these schools -- what "I" counted on, what "I" paid for when I bought my house, "my" property values.....”

Any members of the Professional Organization of English Majors out there? “Wouldn’t it be interesting…..” - a two-year-old musing. But a very real goal – to make all schools universally excellent, and eliminate the rhetoric of ‘my school,” “your school,” and “those kids” whose parents “don’t want the best for them”. And really, if that’s not your overarching goal, you really don’t belong on the Board of Education. Think critically and carefully before you “roll the dice” or play the “lottery” by voting for someone who supports one school community over another. That’s not what this job is about.

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