Member of Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Education Sub-Committee for many years in Anne Arundel County, TAAAC representative, Faculty Council Chairperson, Member of the ASI-TAAAC Advisory Group, High School Concerns Committee Chairperson for TAAAC ~ 6 Year Veteran of the United States Army Reserves from 1967 to 1972
Why are you running for office?
I am running for BOE to help the kids in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. I have taught and mentored them for years and I believe they need my voice on the Board of Education.
How should schools address hate bias incidents in the school system?
Everyone has the right to expect a safe school environment and no one has the right to take that away. Hate bias incidents must be investigated promptly and thoroughly and immediate action, including severe consequences, must be given.
Schools must be pro-active as opposed to reactive. The importance of diversity and the building of relationships must be an emphasis in all schools at all levels from the very first day. Each school should have a plan and they should plan their work and work their plan. Plans must include all stakeholders in the school and the cluster.
I have been a “bully blocker” for my entire teaching career and I will continue to do so as a member of the Board of Education.
What actions would you pursue to reduce the number of student arrests in county schools?
Students at risk are often identified before there are any serious incidents in school. We must do a better job of providing resources and help to those students who are struggling in schools. We must provide mentors and the needed resources to help the at-risk students improve their attitude and their willingness to be positive players in the school. When at-risk students encounter caring and nurturing mentors in their lives, they begin to show improvement. They begin to care more about themselves and they begin to make positive decisions which will keep them from being arrested in school. The power of the relationship is the key to helping students exercise their power of decision making for themselves. Once again, we must take a proactive approach. We must identify students in the gap, and we must develop a plan of action for them by working with parents and professionals to identify issues and concerns before they become critical issues and concerns. We must connect students and parents with appropriate services. The earlier this occurs in the life of the child, the greater the chance of success.
Do you favor or oppose moving school start times later? Why?
This is not a new issue to me. Many years ago, in Anne Arundel County High Schools, we started school at 8:10 a.m. and students were dismissed at 2:55 p.m. We moved to a 7:17 a.m. start time which was recently changed to a 7:30 a.m. start time. I understand that some believe that teenagers cannot function before a certain time in the morning. Data from recent years would prove to us that thousands of our students have GPA’s of 4.0 or greater in spite of the early start times. However, my mind is open. I do have concerns about some of the proposed models. Many of our students must work for the survival of the family. That cannot be ignored.
ALL students and their parents have not been asked what they think. I know that very few teenagers want a change, let alone a change to 9 a.m. or later. I need to have answers to the questions I have about bus safety and overcrowding of busses. I need answers about the impact a change would have on our elementary students. Once I have the answers, I will be willing and ready to vote for whatever I determine to be in the best interests of the students I serve.
What changes would you propose in the school transportation system?
I am in the process of studying the school transportation system because in order to make recommendations and/or changes, one must know about the system. It was suggested that we could change start times in several ways without additional funding, but I understand that the proposals have safety issues which do concern me. Equity is important. Everyone does have the right to expect equal treatment. Where you live should not result in unsafe transportation conditions.
I will continue to study the system to prepare myself to make recommendations for changes and improvement.
How would you address the increased number of incidents of self-harm among county students?
In my career, I have had far too many cases of students who felt the need to harm themselves. I have always been prepared. In the past several years several students came to me to tell me that they were in crisis. The reason they came to me was because they knew that I knew exactly what to do. The relationship I had with these students was the reason they reached out to me for help. The relationship piece is extremely powerful. In fact, it does save lives. All staff must know what to do and we must always err on the side of caution. We do need more support personnel including guidance counselors and school psychologists and social workers. We must lower the ratio of students per guidance counselor to manageable and safe levels. All staff must ALWAYS know what to do so that no student falls between the cracks.
Should the school board approve spending above the superintendent's budget proposal?
The school board does have an obligation to provide students and communities with the best possible chance for success. If it is determined that the superintendent’s budget does not meet the needs of the students and schools, I believe that the school board should request what is needed. The needs of our students must be a priority.
What do you believe is the most critical for the school system to do if the Blueprint for Maryland's Future passes?
Money is of critical importance to help guarantee that teachers are paid a fair wage. Recruitment and retention of highly qualified teachers is of utmost importance. However, the need for resources to help schools cope with discipline issues is also a critical issue. Too much precious class time is lost in many of our schools.
There is an attitude gap among some students which contributes to the achievement gap. Many schoolteachers and administrators are frustrated because they feel as if they are out of options. Students will generally rise or fall to the level of our expectations. Alternative school settings are essential to be able to help the at-risk student improve his or her attitude in order to get back to the regular school environment. Restorative practices must be coupled with consequences and appropriate resources to help at-risk students succeed and thrive.
How should the board work with the superintendent to set policies for county schools?
It is all about relationships. Every member of the board should strive to develop a working relationship with other board members as well as the superintendent and his staff. These relationships should allow for the exchange of ideas in a positive setting. The exchange of ideas is critical to the success of our school system. We will not always agree with one another. We should always agree to respect one another and to seek common ground so that we can make the best possible decisions for our students.