Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Review: School Board Elections This Year

TeachTheFacts is, as the name suggests, primarily concerned with the public schools teaching the facts. We are a registered 501(c)(3) corporation, which puts some limits on how much we can endorse candidates in elections -- we're not here as a political entity, but as a group that wants to see that our community maintains high standards in public education, in terms of both accuracy and fairness. We are not a deep-pockets organization (a little understated humor there) and probably won't be pouring money into any campaigns or anything -- but we do have an intense interest in watching how the races line up, and seeing that good people end up in important decision-making positions in Montgomry County, Maryland.

We will be especially interested in watching the school board candidacies. So far, we have learned that Board President Dr. Charles Haughey and Board members Gabriel Romero and Valerie Ervin have decided not to run again (because Ervin is mid-term, someone will be appointed to fill her position if she steps down). Challengers are still filing, until the cutoff date of July 3rd, so we'll keep an eye on them, too. Primaries are in September.

Just to get us warmed up, I am going to copy something from the Potomac Newcomer's Guide, put out by the Potomac Almanac. Here is some information about the school board, including stuff about members (I edited a little bit where it was out of date):
Board of Education

The eight-member board is the county’s official educational policy-making body and is responsible for the direction and operation of the public school system.

Although board members are divided into regions (Potomac falls into District 2) in order to ensure that there is representation from different geographical areas of the county, all members are elected at-large. There is one student member of the board who is elected by the middle and high school students of the county. The student member’s vote does not count in certain cases.

The school system's Web site is www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org [really http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/ -JimK]. This site is updated regularly with Board of Education agendas, minutes, announcements, invitations for public comment on new policies and other information. E-mail for any Board of Education member should be sent to boe@fc.mcps.k12.md.us. E-mail is shared with all members of the Board.

Charles Haughey (At Large)*
..Current Board of Education President
..Term expires in 2006
Sharon Cox (At Large)
..Current Board of Education vice-president
Gabe Romero (District 1)*
..Term expires in 2006
Steven Abrams (District 2)
Patricia O’Neill (District 3)
..Term expires in 2006
Valerie Ervin (District 4)
Nancy Navarro (District 5)
..Navarro was appointed to the Board in October, 2004, to fill the seat board member Henry Lee left for family reasons. Her term expires in 2006.
Sebastian Johnson (Student member, Montgomery Blair High School senior)

Asterisks mean the member has announced that they will not run for re-election.

Incumbents participating in this year's election process, then, are Pat O'Neill and Nancy Navarro.

You can also learn more about current board members by checking the Board's web site -- there are even bios that you can get to on the righthand side of the page.

The local teachers union recently announced the list of candidates they are backing in the elections. From The Post:
Officials with the 12,000-member Montgomery County Education Association yesterday announced that the teachers union is endorsing four candidates in the race for the Montgomery County School Board.

For the 1st District (Gaithersburg) seat, currently held by Gabe Romero (who announced that he would not seek reelection), union members endorsed former teacher and retired Montgomery public school administrator Judy Docca.

In the 3rd District (Bethesda-Chevy Chase) and 5th District (Northeastern County), the union endorsed incumbents Patricia O'Neill and Nancy Navarro.

For the at-large seat held by Charles Haughey, who is not seeking reelection, the union endorsed Shirley Brandman, a longtime PTA volunteer, who is a lawyer and former special education teacher.

Though the official candidate filing deadline for the Sept. 12 primary election is July 3, union officials said they announce endorsements early to allow members to participate in the selection process before summer break. Teachers Back Four Candidates

TeachTheFacts will be watching candidates closely. Of course we have our issue, the sex-ed curriculum, and will not want to see wafflers or bigots elected. Candidates should be able to state clearly how they feel about comprehensive and inclusive sex education, so citizens can know what they're voting for.

I don't expect sex-ed to be anybody's core platform in running -- there's a lot to running a school district besides this, and it's also a hard topic to get the voters involved in. But it is a topic that can separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here is the list of people who have filed, from the Montgomery County Board of Elections web site. I have removed phone numbers and email addresses -- you can get these if you want them. If I was able to find a campaign web site for the person, I linked it. I may update these if I learn about others -- Google doesn't really know everything, quite.


Shirley Brandman
..Cabin John, MD 20818
..Web site: http://www.brandman4boe.org/

John Horan Latham
..North Bethesda, MD 20852

Arquilla Ridgell
..Silver Spring, MD 20906
..Web site: http://www.voteridgell.com/index.html


Judy Docca
..Montgomery Village, MD 20886


Patricia B O'Neill
..Bethesda, MD 20817


Nancy Navarro
..Silver Spring, MD 20914-0847
..Web site: http://navarro4boe.org/

Susie Werner Scofield
..Derwood, MD 20855

We'll keep you updated as filings are announced and statements are made.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Advocates of comprehensive sex-ed curriculums need allies on the County Council too, and should vote for Valerie Ervin in District 5. Ervin is one of few school board members who has always advocated for a comprehensive sex-ed curriculum in MCPS. Check out her website at www.ValerieErvin.org.

June 16, 2006 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


June 27, 2006 5:27 PM  

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