The role of the board, Scott said, is to ensure that policies are being developed and implemented that allow students to achieve at their highest level. Part of achievement, Scott said, is for students to have equitable access to the resources they need to succeed.

"You can be No. 1, and still have kids that are left behind or not prepared," Scott said. "It's important to close the achievement and resource gaps that exist."

Flexible curriculum development would help, she said , as would more individualized student attention as a result of that flexibility.

"We have to engage students where they are," Scott said. "We have to figure out how to balance the need for students to have access to resources, and measure how kids are progressing with their various learning styles and strengths."

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Board members, Scott said, should seek ways to be innovative with technology and curriculum, but should move forward with the caution necessary to prevent just following trends.

"There should be careful, measured understanding — so the system doesn't leave people behind in a rush to meet the next change in the curriculum," she said.

Scott said she wants to have an impact on the future of education in Howard County, with the help of the community, parents and teachers.

"I'm willing to spend the time," Scott said. "I'm willing to listen."

Janet Siddiqui

50, Clarksville, Board of Education member since 2007, former board chairwoman and vice-chairwoman, office medical director for pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Odenton facility, part-time faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

The well-being of the whole child — including the child's education, health and future — is the focus of Janet Siddiqui's bid to be re-elected to the Board of Education.

"A pediatrician can bring a different perspective for the whole child," Siddiqui said. "A perspective for the developmental, social, cognitive and emotional aspects and challenges that students face."

Siddiqui said she would like to see the creation of a nutritionist or wellness coordinator to look over the school system's wellness policies, and wants increased physical activity integrated into the high school schedule.

As for narrowing the achievement gap among students of different backgrounds, she said expanded preschool opportunities and early interventions could help.

"If you catch students early, set better foundations, you have a better outcome," she said. "We've known a lot of that, and community groups — like HeadStart — do help. ... We have to maintain the successes we've made, but take it to the next level."

Balance is also important in eliminating the gap: a balance between the right leaders, highly qualified teachers and elected officials, Siddiqui said.

"Students see role models in teachers, and I'd like to see more African American males as teachers in the system," Siddiqui said.

Siddiqui said she would also like students to learn languages needed in government and business, like Chinese and Arabic, as well as the Romance languages traditionally taught in schools. In addition, she wants a renewed focus on art, incorporating an "A" in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives.

"With STEAM, we could use critical thinking skills and creativity to help all students succeed," she said. "These are things like art projects as experiments in elementary science classes, music in physical education — things that make learning fun for students."