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Teachers union endorses candidates for school board

The Baltimore Sun

School board incumbents Janet Siddiqui and Ellen Flynn Giles and candidate Allen Dyer have been endorsed by the Howard County Education Association, the union that represents more than 6,000 school system employees.

"We not only influence our members, but their families, retirees and community members that value our option," said Ann DeLacy, president of HCEA. "We are respected. We are held in high esteem. Hopefully, they know that we go through a very thorough process and we examine all the factors that contribute to student learning."

Siddiqui, Giles and Dyer are among six candidates vying for three open seats in the Nov. 4 general election.

In a news release, HCEA said Siddiqui and Giles have "demonstrated a strong commitment to providing programs that have enhanced overall student performance as well as addressing the minority achievement gap, at the same time ensuring that [the Howard school system] continues to attract and retain the best qualified staff with competitive salaries and benefits."

In endorsing Dyer, the union mentioned in the release his call for "adequate staffing with salaries for staff competitive enough to provide teachers and support professionals with a viable option to live in Howard County." Dyer, who unsuccessfully ran for the board in 2006, also was recommended because he advocates reducing class size, closing the achievement gap, and repairing and renovating schools.

Siddiqui, a Clarksville resident, is a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. Giles is a senior editor and analyst with Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill Co., and resides in Scaggsville. Dyer is an attorney and computer consultant from Ellicott City.

"Our primary consideration in recommending these candidates to our members is the strong positions and support they have exhibited on behalf of public education and our public school employees," DeLacy said.

In an interview, DeLacy also outlined the union's reservations about the other candidates. Betsy Grater, a retired bed-and-breakfast owner from Ellicott City, was not endorsed because she was not as informed as the other candidates, the union president said.

Diane Butler, the vice president of the St. John's Lane Community Association, was not endorsed because of her "lack of confidence in the school system," DeLacy said.

University of Maryland student Di Zou was not endorsed because he did not interview with the union. Zou, a graduate of Glenelg High School, ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2006.

"We would love to hear from him, but he's never interviewed with us," DeLacy said.

Going green

Lime Kiln Middle and River Hill High are two of the 36 schools to be named to the Maryland Green School Awards Program, which is sponsored by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE).

The schools were inducted during a ceremony May 29 at the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.

This year's group of schools represents the highest number of Green Schools named in a single year since the program launched in 1999. With the recent additions, 12 Howard County schools are now members of the program, which encourages schools to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and inject environmental content into the curriculum.

Currently, 201 Maryland schools are members of the program. Schools complete an application process in which they must document two years' worth of environmentally-friendly practices.

The MAEOE program is distinct from the Green Schools program, which is funded by the Educational Foundation of America, the Maryland Energy Administration and the county school system. Twenty Howard County schools are among more than 200 schools in Maryland, California, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania that are part of that program.

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