First-time candidate De Lacy running on experience

This is one in a series of articles profiling the six candidates running for the Board of Education.

A fixture in Howard County education for years, Ann De Lacy is using what she has learned over the course of three decades to guide her in the pursuit of a seat on the Board of Education.

With the aim to serve students and the community, De Lacy said she is not a candidate that will go along with the status quo.

"That's not why I'm running for office," she said. "If you don't have an opinion on something, you don't stand for anything. I have ideas that I believe are extremely important to have a world-class school system, and that is not continuing on the same path we're on."

De Lacy, 62, of Columbia, is the past president of the Howard County Education Association, where she served for six years starting in 2005. Prior to that, she taught in Howard County schools for 33 years. She's also served — in the past and currently — as a member of the school system's operating budget review committee.

"There's no candidate, in the remaining six or in the original field of 14, that can touch Ann on educational policy," said De Lacy's HCEA successor, Paul Lemle, whose group has endorsed De Lacy and candidates Jackie Scott and David Gertler. "She knows Race to the Top backward and forward, and it's the same with No Child Left Behind and every issue that's been an issue for the past 33 years. ... If other candidates had that experience, we'd have endorsed them, too."

Frustrated by the lack of transparency surrounding the Cradlerock Report two years ago — in which the school system revealed the model for a K-8 combining Cradlerock Elementary and Owen Brown Middle School was flawed — De Lacy is calling for more openness from the school system. It's a message she believes is resonating with voters, along with her educational knowledge and passion.

"Whether I get elected or not, I think a lot of issues that have come up as a result of me being in the race have become a topic of conversation for the system," she said.

De Lacy does not support Race to the Top, or "the blind focus" on standardized testing, and she said she has found voters to be unhappy with decisions the current board has made in regards to those issues, and issues like the middle school curriculum and redistricting.

"All of those years, people have been sitting in those redistricting meetings and the committees have been run by the central office which decides who's going to be on the committee," De Lacy said. "By and large, these people (on the committee) are all novices, year in and year out."

De Lacy said she wants a "true process" that would involve more people and create a more equal redistricting.

"Make all the schools have a good standard, and develop a process that involves all stakeholder groups, not only the parents," De Lacy said, calling the process of asking committee members to submit resumes and letters of interest for consideration discriminatory. "Property values are based on school test scores. ... We need a process that is a fair, well thought-out process that's very different from what we currently have."

Focusing on test scores, De Lacy said, narrows rather than enriches the curriculum in the schools. Schools are for the entire community, De Lacy said, and better schools are something everyone deserves.

"We are not inviting innovation," she said and community members from all across the spectrum "should expect the best in the public school system. We owe it to the taxpayers."

The school system has not been working in the best interest of the people, De Lacy said, and public education should serve everybody.

"We have to have a fair, outstanding, equitable education for every child, irrespective of his or her intellect and socio-economic status," she said. "High-quality, world-class public education serves the common good and sustains our community. ... We can do this better if we get the entire community involved in the process."

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