Allen Dyer's platform is the same now as it was when he was elected to the Board of Education: closing the achievement gap, focusing more on vocational education and fighting for transparency on the board and in school system.

For the first time, Dyer said, he is not worried about name recognition in a campaign. Now, he said, the public can judge him on his record, of which he is proud. He said he would continue working toward greater transparency within the board and school system, something he did even before he was on the board.

"That's something that I believe in as a citizen — you don't have to be a board member to do that," Dyer said. "But being a board member offers a different perspective on how flawed the operation is, so you can do more."

In regards to the achievement gap, Dyer said resources must be moved around to address the persistent issue.

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"The kids that need the better teachers aren't getting the better teachers," Dyer said. "We have to provide some sort of incentive to teachers to get them to the students that need them. ... If you're going to be serious about the achievement gap, you have to move the better teachers around."

Recess and related arts are portions of the school day that must be protected, Dyer said. In addition, he said, he has always believed in manual skills training — like vocational education — which he said is overlooked in national programs and curricula.

"I see a failure to address the physical needs of our body, working with our hands," Dyer said. "The idea of doing things with your hands in a directed, focused manner teaches you how to exist in the physical world. ... We don't have that embedded into the curriculum in the way it should be."

David Gertler

49, Ellicott City, former Board of Education candidate, adjunct professor of mathematics at Towson University, former technology executive, electrical engineer and crypto-mathematician

Technology is poised to transform the way education is consumed and delivered, David Gertler said. The only questions are how soon and how well, and whether there are people on the board who understand technology's capabilities.

"We have a lot of technology in use in the classroom right now, and that's good," Gertler said. "But in the future, there will be a real transformation ... it's not the technology that limits us. It's the policies, it's our willingness to adapt to change and address the very important consequences of that change."

Gertler said he has the experience and background needed to help address those changes. Many possibilities exist for technology in the classroom, Gertler said, and he wants to help build a plan to use them.

Teachers could individualize learning even further, tailoring lessons to the specific needs of each student with tools like self-correcting homework that adjusts to and addresses students' strengths and weaknesses, Gertler said.

"This is not fantasy," Gertler said. "We could have this in place quickly."

Innovations in technology can even address issues like school overcrowding, Gertler said.

"We're still behind the curve," he said. "We still have schools that are significantly overcrowded and others that are under capacity. There is no one perfect solution, but it's about building better projecting models that give you greater insight into what's coming down the road, and then acting on those in advance."

New programs combine learning with fun, and if those programs are implemented, Gertler said, education would become more interactive and engaging, which would in turn raise the level of achievement for all students.

"If you can engage kids — regardless of their backgrounds — and you can inspire them and get them excited in a productive, educational way, the bar will be raised for all of them," Gertler said.

Ellen Giles

61, North Laurel, editor and analyst for McGraw Hill, current Board of Education member, policy and audit committees chairwoman, PTA Council of Howard County liaison