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"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself" ~HL Mencken
I’m a life-long resident of Southwestern Baltimore County, and a product of the Baltimore County Public Schools. I guess you could say I’ve been involved in the area’s schools nearly my whole life, but it was when my kids entered school that I started to become involved in education advocacy. [Kids have an odd way of forcing us to be adults.]
I really became involved in advocacy as part of the solution to overcrowding in the Catonsville area. [Truth be told, there were a lot of rumors flying around, and, well, it made me mad to see parts of my community pitted against one another.] Through that evolution, and the subsequent redistricting process I decided that I needed to continue to be involved.
So why the leap from community advocate (some might say “rabble-rouser” - and they wouldn’t be wrong) to seeking an elected position on the school board? The main answer is I think I can help, but there’s more to it. I just didn’t feel that I could sit back, having rightly-criticized the work that has gone on, and then shirk from putting myself forward when the opportunity presented itself.
That having been said let me lay out some things that are the core values that would drive me as a member of the board. [I ask and fully expect you, the stakeholder, to call me out should I drift from them.]
- Transparency - Too often the workings of the school system are shrouded from the public eye, or, at least, seem too have been. I would like to see a system where every stakeholder gets the chance to to see the processes at work. In that vein, my hope is that we can avoid hidden agendas and the sense than people are left out.
- Justice - I hear a lot of talk about increasing equity in the system. What I want to see is a system that isn’t just equitable, I want one that is just. An equitable system would be one that would meet the needs of the students to meet the same outcome. While an equitable system might solve the problem of different starting points, it fixes the same end point for everyone. Is that enough? Should the goal of our children’s education be a piece of paper or should it be equipping children of many different backgrounds with what they need to be successful? I think it should be, and I think that striving for a just education is probably the most import thing we should be doing.
- Listen to the person on the sharp end - I’m a nurse and a paramedic. I work in a high-stakes field with often-limited resources. Sound familiar? Our teachers work in just such an environment. What I’ve found in my field is that care and outcomes are always maximized when the leadership listens to the ground-level providers, and gives them what they need to be successful.
- Everything else - Our schools should be safe, they should be well-resourced, and there should always be a coherent plan for where everything in the system is headed.
Ultimately, folks, what I want is to be a guy who works for a good school system. I don’t want to be a guy who wants to win an election. What I believe is that the system works best when the stakeholders have a voice.
Well, I am a stakeholder in this community. I have been for most of my life. I’ve been a student, a parent, and a advocate. And now I’m asking you to lend your voice to mine on election day so we can give all of our kids the tools and opportunities they deserve.
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February 28, 2018