The Howard County Education Association announced Thursday that it will recommend Bess Altwerger, Dr. Zaneb Beams, Dan Furman, and Cindy Vaillancourt for the Board of Education.

Altwerger, Beams, Furman and Vaillancourt are among 13 candidates vying for four open seats on the board. The primary election, where the field will be narrowed to eight, is June 24.

Incumbents Brian Meshkin and Frank Aquino are not seeking re-election to the seven-member board, while fellow incumbents Sandra French and Vaillancourt are seeking another term.

In a statement, HCEA President Paul Lemle said there is "historic interest" in this year's Board of Education race.

"It was reflected in our job satisfaction survey, where only 28 percent of the respondents expressed confidence in the current board. Each of these candidates offers a perspective our schools need," Lemle said. "Each is committed to including the voices of educators, parents, and the communities we serve before significant decisions about our shared future are made."

In its release, HCEA said Altwerger has "devoted her talent as an activist and career as professor of education to protecting schools from one-size-fits-all approaches, unproven changes, and attacks on public education."

"Bess has a wealth of experience in teacher preparation and is a strong advocate for challenging and engaging instruction," Lemle said.

HCEA said Beams has "committed her talents as a pediatrician to improving quality of life of Howard County children."

"That commitment extends to learning in safe, healthy schools where kids will be taught by supported, respected faculty and staff," Lemle said.

HCEA cited Furman's experience as a former student board member and his legal expertise.

"Dan is a consensus builder, and we believe he can reduce conflict among stakeholders and on the board itself," Lemle said.

In recommending Vaillancourt, Lemle said she has "taken hard votes and held positions that matter a lot to our members," including opposing Race To The Top and preserving the middle school reading program.

"She has been there when it counted," he said.

To be considered for HCEA's endorsement, candidates completed questionnaires and participated in interviews with rank-and-file members of HCEA. Recommendations were finalized by HCEA's Board of Directors and Representative Council.

As recommended candidates, Altwerger, Beams, Furman and Vaillancourt will appear on the association's Apple Ballot and they will be able to use the recommendation in campaign literature, according to the release.

Additional assistance will be provided closer to Election Day, including a large-scale get out the vote effort during the early voting window, the release states.