As a resident of Hanover, and mother of two students, one at Elkridge Elementary and one at Howard High School, Kornreich said she has seen the effects of the overcrowding in the region. She said more foresight is needed on the part of the board and the school system.

"You can only put so many students in a building and make it manageable," she said. "Route 1 used to be the only issue, but overcrowding is reaching across the county."

Increasing technology and easing overcrowding would also have an impact on achievement, Kornreich said.

"Overcrowding, increasing class size, impedes the ability of teachers to differentiate instruction," she said. "And one of the big answers to the multifaceted question of achievement is using technology to personalize education. If each student is allowed to learn on their own and at their own pace, they'll succeed more."

Submit a Letter to the Editor for the Laurel Leader, Columbia Flier and Howard County Times

Mary Jo Neil

50, West Friendship, former board of directors for National PTA, former bylaws and policy chairwoman for National PTA, former Maryland Parent Advisory Council member, Maryland Alliance for Family Involvement in Education co-founder

Ensuring community input is heard and focusing the educational system on the child are the two main concerns of Mary Jo Neil's campaign.

She believes she knows how to help accomplish both.

"If there's an issue, let's find out what the community thinks, but let's look across the country, too," Neil said. "Let's find out what's worked. Tap into these resources that are there. And I have those resources in my background, and a desire to incorporate parent and community involvement at the decision-making level."

No one knows a child better than their own parent, Neil said, so parents should be involved in creating a more individualized learning system.

"Kids all have their own motivations, and working with them and their parents to find that motivation and encourage them, their skill levels and strengths, that will work," she said.

It's hard to accept, that students are graduating from Howard County schools and then being forced to take remediation classes at college, Neil said. Schools should offer a wide range of opportunities while still providing a strong core foundation, she said.

"Whatever grade you're at, get through it and get through it well so you'll be comfortable and have a strong foundation for the next year," she said. "It's about encouraging teachers and working with them to encourage them to find new ways to reach kids."

All students, she said, need a solid foundation — especially the ones "in the middle," not in special needs or gifted and talented students.

"Some students struggle," she said. "We need to find a way to reach the students to help them believe in themselves."

Jackie Scott

45, Columbia, Atholton High School and Clemens Crossing Middle School PTAs, founding member of Thurgood Marshall Democratic Club of Howard County, Health Law and Policy instructor at Georgetown University Law Center, Business Leadership and Organizational Development Instructor at Nyack College

Jackie Scott is running for the Board of Education on a platform of access, accountability and achievement.

The factors needed for all three to happen, Scott said, include discourse with the community and parental involvement.

"There should be a call for accountability at every level of the school system," Scott said. "From the board, staff, teachers, parents and students."