Education Action Team

The Education Action Team aims to inform the community about threats to public education and to identify action steps that promote respect, fairness, opportunity, and funding for all students.

Why We Still Need to Fight Against Moms 4 Liberty,

Even in Howard County

As many of you are aware, Moms 4 Liberty is an organization that was born out of the regressive hard right wing movement. It was developed as a seemingly “grassroots” parent organization but it is backed by the Koch brothers and other big players to fight against the popular ideals of equality, diversity, and inclusiveness in everything from library books to teacher training.

One of M4L’s platforms is engaging members to run for local school boards to enact policies that work against diversity and inclusion policies. They have been successful in banning no less than 50 books from Carroll County Public School libraries. And they have set their eyes on us next. Watch nearly any HCPSS Board of Education meeting in the last few years and they are there, spewing their nonsense and trying to get attention. Recently, there was a highly successful protest outside one of M4L’s public meetings at the library in Columbia. Howard County citizens have sent a resounding message that we don’t want them here. But, we have a problem.

Howard County School Board candidates have gotten the message that their affiliation with M4L should be hush-hush. Trent Kittleman, running for BOE in district 5, was a founding member of the Howard County Chapter of M4L, but you’d never know it. She asked to be taken off their roles when deciding to run for BOE. She may be trying to hide her past affiliation, but there is no evidence her views on educational policy have changed. This comes as a challenge when evaluating BOE candidates. It would be much easier if they wore their bias on their sleeve. So, we as the citizens of Howard County, must look deep to find the hidden code of whose ideologies may align with M4L.

Here are some issues that may be at the forefront of their campaigns:

-A focus on parents’ rights

-Parent “opt out” options for books or materials

-Redistricting that prioritizes “keeping neighborhoods together”

-“Equality over equity”

Although our highly rated school system has had significant problems of late, creating divisiveness and anger, we must be vigilant in selecting our BOE candidates so that we do not inadvertently allow a fox to enter the hen house.

We, as members of IndivisibleHoCoMD who believe in fairness, tolerance, inclusion, and democracy, must continue to work toward building a fairer democracy. That starts with and includes a highly effective public school system that stands for those same beliefs.

Board of Education Candidates 2022

This year, the two At Large seats on the Board of Education are on the ballot. For the Primary Election, there are eight candidates running. The four with the most votes will go through to the General Election. You will be able to vote for two.

The Education Action Team sent all eight candidates a survey. Six responded. We reviewed the answers and attended forums to determine recommendations. See our infographic for our level of support. Get to know the candidates by looking at their survey answers below. 

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue? 

The most important issue is the staff shortage.  To address the staff shortage, I will request a review of the ground situation to discover the precise reasons teachers retire early or leave the school system. We must pay staff a decent salary and recognize a job well done through bonuses to retain our staff. We must provide more support for classroom teachers by adding paraeducators. We must improve HR services, streamline the application process, and adjust the hiring timing to attract new graduates. I believe it is worth pursuing and recruiting experienced people from industry and government as part time staff in areas of computer science, world languages, business, vocational technology, upper-level math and science, engineering and other subjects to expand our workforce, improve learning, and potentially free up classroom space by teaching these subjects virtually.

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  1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue? 

School capacity is the most important and pressing issue facing HCPSS.  We do not have enough seats in brick-and-mortar schools for all the kids, and we still continue to build residential housing without a plan to increase school capacity. We have schools that do not have room for any more portables and residential development continues. Our decreased capacity leads to frequent redistricting. We heard in the boardroom recently about how during a lockdown, kids in portables do not have access to restrooms. Teachers in portables do not have access to the same resources as those in the brick and mortar school. And while we can add portables, it does not increase the size of the cafeteria, auditorium, music rooms, or other spaces where large numbers of students gather. Such overcrowding surely contributes to disease transmission, including COVID. It likely also contributes to behavioral issues.  Every year, the BOE asks for the operating budget they need, saying that you can’t get what you don’t ask for. They need to do the same for the capital budget. Every year, they need to send the county council and county executive a budget request to fully fund the building of schools with the appropriate capacity. They also need to send a capital budget for deferred maintenance. They need to advocate to the county council, county executive, and in Annapolis.

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Jacky McCoy

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue? 

Addressing staff shortage is the most important issue facing HCPSS, especially efforts to recruit and retain teachers and principals. Our system needs to be renewed as a vibrant, exciting work environment to keep and attract high-quality staff. Investing more in teacher recruitment and retention through programs like “Grow Your Own teacher, increasing the salaries and improving benefits for educators, building effective recruitment pipelines with local colleges and universities are some possible steps to address critical staffing needs.

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Dan Newberger

1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps  should the BOE take to address this issue?

One of the most important issues HCPSS faces today is ensuring a full recovery from the  effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. So many of our students have experienced academic  learning loss, mental health impacts, and delays in social and emotional development. So  many of our educators are exhausted and feel alienated from district leadership. As much as  

we want a swift return to “normal,” it is going to take several years of focused leadership and  dedicated resources to ensure a full recovery. To address this, we need to develop  comprehensive, tailored, data-driven recovery plans for each individual school in the district  to guide their recovery. With input from educators, parents, and community members, and  with metrics and timelines to ensure accountability, these plans can be our roadmaps for  ensuring every student, educator, and school receives the support and resources they need. 

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1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?

I think there are many issues facing HCPSS right now, but what is highest on my priority list is addressing the lack of equity in our children’s education. To address this issue, the first thing I’d suggest that the BOE do is to make training regarding diversity, equity and inclusion mandatory for all HCPSS staff. By addressing the implicit bias that goes unrecognized in the adults tasked with teaching our children, we can address several issues at once – equity, disproportionate discipline and delivering world-class education.

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1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue? 

The budget has been and will continue to be the most pressing issue as it touches everything else. As a growing county, every year is probably going to be “historic” in terms of the budget, but the real question is if it’s adequate for the needs. We’ve had to make cuts year after year with class size increases, going back on commitments we’ve made to teachers, slashing funds for materials of instruction and custodial services, among others. We’re behind on building capacity for our growing student population and on maintaining our schools. With the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future we’re going to have additional requirements without the needed funding for all of it. The board and school system have to continue to advocate, and convince our community to advocate, for the funds we need for our schools and work with our funding agencies to prioritize education.

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Education Politics by Laurie Chin

2020-2021 Team Accomplishments

  • Worked to promote the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in the Maryland legislature, passed on February 12, 2021, Governor vetoed, veto was overridden. Public school students will benefit from a more adequate, equitable, and targeted funding formula that will improve the lives and schools of Marylanders.
  • At the County level, the Education Action Team is committed to informing the public about Board of Education candidates that support our values. In September we hosted a “Meet the Candidates” Forum to highlight those candidates that best represented the values of IndivisibleHoCoMD. In addition, we provided questionnaires completed by the candidates that allowed our members to see their views on important issues.

Click to access 03a40c_08d244bc3ce14ba9a974e4442767b6a3.pdf

2021-2022 Team Goals and Plans

Our hardworking action team is currently on hiatus until the fall. 

• Starting in September we will be working on supporting candidates who prioritize and support Public Education with words and actions. 

• We will be centering our support around the MD Gubernatorial race as well as the 2022 Howard County. Public School System Board of Education race, which will determine the 2 countywide at-large seats. 

This legislation will ensure our public education system is strengthened in five key areas:

• Early Childhood Education

• College and Career Readiness Pathways

• High Quality and Diverse

• Additional resources for At-Risk Populations

• Accountability of spending