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March 10, 2011

Get to know the SMOB candidates

by Philipa Friedman, Print Managing News Editor
In this year's election for the 2011-2012 Student Member of the Board, the competition has been narrowed down to two contestants: incumbent Alan Xie and newcomer Hal Zeitlin, both juniors. We asked them about their positions on key issues for the upcoming year and a little about their qualifications. Stay tuned for the "Meet The Candidates" TV show, which will air on the MCPS cable channel beginning March 21.


Alan Xie (Incumbent)
Richard Montgomery High School
Grade 11
Courtesy of Alan Xie


About which issue do you feel the most strongly? Why?

I'm committed to communication. Although issues such as the budget and SMOB voting rights are priorities for me, I see communication as the center of everything. To truly involve students and the community, we need strong avenues of communication. This year, I held county-wide town hall meetings, started the SMOB Council and established a centralized SMOB web site (mcsmob.org). Instead of passively waiting for students to get involved, I want to empower them by bringing information to them through face-to-face visits, morning announcements and school newspaper columns.


What, in your opinion, will be the biggest budget issues for the 2011-2012 school year and how do you plan to confront them?

Our biggest challenge will be meeting Maintenance of Effort (MOE). MOE is a state requirement that requires the County Council to provide at least the same funding per-pupil as last year. This year, the County Council doesn't intend to fully fund our budget, which could mean the loss of millions in increased state aid. However, I believe in collaboration with the County Council throughout the budget process so that we can ensure equitable funding for our school system.


What is your position on "gifted and talented" programs and why?

Our goal is to provide every child with a world-class quality of education tailored to their needs. As a student who attended both GT and magnet and is currently in the IB program, I can confidently say that these programs are challenging and rewarding opportunities for our students.


Both you and your opponent advocate for closing the achievement gap. What can you do in your term to ensure that steps are taken to achieve this goal?

There are many studies that link the achievement gap to socioeconomic status. But why should a person's birth determine their future academic success? We want all of our students to succeed, and be college...and life-ready by the time they graduate. What makes us unique is our belief in equality of opportunity. To address the achievement gap, we must ensure that all students have the same access to information and resources, regardless of their native language.


What do you believe the new superintendent will have to accomplish in order to be considered successful or effective? What will be the biggest issues facing him/her in the coming year?

Our new superintendent must be skilled and experienced enough to work in an extremely large and diverse school system. Our many active students, parents, staff and community groups provide a multifaceted perspective of education, and the new superintendent must be able to effectively communicate with all stakeholders. As the budget crisis continues, the new superintendent must also work effectively with the Board of Education and the County Council in order to develop a spirit of solidarity...and cooperation.


Why do you believe you are the better candidate for SMOB for the upcoming school year? What unique characteristic will you bring to the job?

Hal's a great guy who I've worked with in both SMOB Council and MCR-SGA, but I believe our school system needs an incumbent. With a new superintendent and a continuing budget crisis, we need a SMOB who knows the issues, knows the people and knows both the potential and limits of the position. I'm extremely passionate about what I do, and I bring dedication and persistence to the table. To me, it's all about communication, solidarity and cooperation.


If you could cross any two animals and create an epic hybrid animal, which would you cross, what would you make, and why?

I'd cross a phoenix and a hawk. It would be an immortal, smart, blazing,
predator bird. The wholphin came in second.


Hal Zeitlin
Winston Churchill High School
Grade 11
Courtesy of Hal Zeitlin


About which issue do you feel the most strongly? Why?

The issue I feel most strongly about is having teachers that are passionate and dedicated to their students. They are the key component to our education. When having a full schedule of inspiring teachers, not only will our students be educated, but they will be excited and prepared to take on the world.


What, in your opinion, will be the biggest budget issues for the 2011-2012 school year and how do you plan to confront them?

We have been providing public education to our residents for many years, and we have not fully questioned if our methods are efficient or inefficient. Where we can cut inefficiencies we can cut spending. We must look and see if our system holds any room for improvement...and when finding it, making ourselves a national model for one more reason.


What is your position on "gifted and talented" programs and why?

I feel that the gifted and talented program does have its purposes but in the end, it does operate unfairly against some students. I feel that our potential should be unlimited and assessed in its current status. When labeling a student, it...can send them a wrong message. Students should be in classes that fit them best; every student is gifted.


Both you and your opponent advocate for closing the achievement gap. What can you do in your term to ensure that steps are taken to achieve this goal?
This year I coordinated a county-wide diversity summit with students and MCPS staff including Board of Education members. After leading this, I have been working on a proposal to submit to schools to advocate for peer tutoring mentoring programs that enrich students and help the succeed in their academics. Not only will this have students work harder in school, but it will keep them motivated to stay out of trouble outside of school.


What do you believe the new superintendent will have to accomplish in order to be considered successful or effective? What will be the biggest issues facing him/her in the coming year?

...Our next superintendent must have a strong background with the budget as Dr. Weast did, possess effective communication skills, and be friendly and engaging. Although there is one thing I would like to see: innovative work towards helping kids. MCPS performs well academically, has many students, and truly deserves the best. What we need is dedication. Next year the biggest issue will be keeping our academics high while our spending low. If elected I will assist our new superintendent in knowing what is important to the students and working towards keeping these programs in place.


Why do you believe you are the better candidate for SMOB for the upcoming school year? What unique characteristic will you bring to the job?

I feel that I am the ideal candidate for SMOB. Not only does my outgoing personality resonate and allow me to relate with all students, but my knowledge and commitment will allow me to work well with my fellow Board members. In past years, regular students aren't pursued or informed by their SMOB, as if he or she becomes invisible. I want to start a clean record...In addition to working with the County Board as well as students, I will be present in Annapolis to make sure the student voice is alive in our State Legislature.


If you could cross any two animals and create an epic hybrid animal, which would you cross, what would you make, and why?

I will be creating an animal that represents me. I would cross an American Eagle and a Golden Retriever making a Golden Eagle...The Golden Retriever represents how I will work with our students as a companion and friend. Meanwhile the American Eagle represents how I am majestic and that people like this are valuable, but unfortunately going extinct.




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  • Just Saying on March 14, 2011 at 9:39 PM
    Why do I support Hal Zeitlin for SMOB? Because the students of Montgomery County deserve a representative who doesn't cheat in school--someone who doesn't merely see SMOB as a means to get into college. Someone who doesn't bribe RM teachers with "free gifts" or coerce the RM administration into making an intercom announcement TELLING students to vote for him.

    Alan's "accomplishments" this year aren't impressive; he made a website and a for-show "council" of students--mostly made up of his friends from school. I think it's disappointing that Alan spent his time on these trifling matters while failing to enact any meaningful measures that will actually change the way MCPS is run.
    • where's the beef (View Email) on March 15, 2011 at 2:23 PM
      "Someone who doesn't bribe RM teachers with "free gifts" or coerce the RM administration into making an intercom announcement TELLING students to vote for him. "

      Prove it.

      Also, it's not like Alan's brainwashing people - if Hal wanted to make an intercom announcement at RM, I'm sure the good people of their broadcasting department would have let him. Kids will make up their minds regardless of which candidate they're more exposed to - and more exposure, clearly, is not always a good thing (you're a case in point, Just Saying!)
    • Hal Zeitlin (View Email) on March 16, 2011 at 12:39 AM
      I think some of these things that are being said about Alan are a little unfair to him. Showing appreciation to teachers is a nice thing to do. They have to do a little extra work to help him with his schedule, and a gift is a small thank you that can go a long way.

      I do appreciate the support, but I really want to see this this election kept as clean as possible. Can we please not accuse candidates of anything along the lines of cheating and bribery?
      • Kudos. on March 17, 2011 at 1:36 AM
        Not many would play the game this fair. Great job!

        The irony here is that Hal is protecting Alan from someone who looks to be a bitter RM student.
        • orly (View Email) on March 18, 2011 at 2:20 PM
          Is this really irony? ohoho
    • anonymous on March 16, 2011 at 12:48 AM
      I disagree. Alan has accomplished a lot. Saying he has not is both wrong and inappropriate. Not only has he made 'SMOB', the actual role more meaningful, he has been able to reach kids who did not even know what SMOB even means. This by itself is an accomplishment. Middle schools are the ones that really lack any sort of knowledge pertaining to the board of education. They know who Alan is, they know what he does. He is a member of the board striving to earn full voting rights, preparing to hire a new superintendent. In the past two weeks he has gone to over four middle schools.

      Take into account that he takes hours and hours attending board meetings, reading huge packets, brainstorming ideas, for us. For all of us. He, the sole representative of the student body, worries for us, strives for us, fights for us. Very often he cannot attend class because of a board meetings. This valuable class time he makes up on his own, by teaching himself what he misses. All this effort he does, he does for us.

      Next month he will be going to San Francisco to hire the new superintendent for the NSBA conference.

      His time is not time wasted, his time is time accomplished. Time accomplished for us and for the future of Montgomery county. Soon, not only is he going to continue to change and aid us, but he will leave an important mark and legacy by hiring the new superintendent.

      A lot is being done. And he knows, there is always more to be done.
      • katie on March 24, 2011 at 7:25 PM
        amen.
      • AntiStalker on April 4, 2011 at 10:52 PM
        ...stalker?
    • Ahaha. on March 16, 2011 at 1:08 PM
      Amusing. Although you appear to be literate, well-spoken individual, you obviously lack any knowledge of what the SMOB actually does on a day-to-day basis. SMOB Council, the website...all of that is icing on the cake. You seem to have overlooked Board business meetings, the Superintendent Search, SMOB voting rights, etc.

      At least Alan isn't contacting local newspapers (the Patch, Examiner) and using his connections to have them run biased, one-sided articles about the election.

      Your twisted portrayal of what seems to be "RM insider information" makes me think that you're a bitter RM student. If you actually knew Alan, you'd know he's not grade-obsessive, high-strung, or a cheater like half of the IB program is.

      Show some respect for the sacrifices Alan has made on your behalf while serving as SMOB. Have you seen how thin he's gotten? Your sole motivation for voting for Hal seems to be an irrational hatred of Alan.

      If you vote based on experience, aptitude, or even charisma, then you would vote for Alan. It's a shame that you've been reduced to making up petty lies.

      Look at the facts. Do you really want to know what reeks of cheating? The fact that one of Hal's best friends is the Special Elections Coordinator. The fact that this year's primary election was held at Winston Churchill HS, providing Hal with not only a home field advantage but also the easy opportunity to send a full delegation of students (voting and nonvoting) to the election. The fact that Hal turned the primary election into a farce. He didn't care about proving he was a better candidate. Oh no. He acted unprofessional and goofed off, knowing that his friends in the audience would support him anyways, and that he had a guaranteed spot in the final two.
      • Skinny on April 4, 2011 at 10:55 PM
        I don't Alan's weight has to do with running back and forth from school to meetings. I can personally vouch for seeing him eat 20 Chicken Nuggets and his health seems of no issue to me. Maybe I should follow him home like you do?
    • Just Saying on March 24, 2011 at 11:08 PM
      Why do I support Alan Xie for SMOB? Because the students of Montgomery County deserve a representative who doesn't cheat in school. Someone who doesn't manipulate newspapers to run one-sided articles, and someone who doesn't take one picture outside of a school and pretends that he's "visited" it.

      Hal claims he visited Blair today, but did any of you guys see him here? What lies.

      http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/199697_1896041722935_1298344222_32223498_5759547_n.jpg
  • decision on March 14, 2011 at 9:45 PM
    Wholpin > Golden Eagle
    nuff said
    • real things (View Email) on March 15, 2011 at 10:32 PM
      Mostly because the Golden Eagle isn't an "epic hybrid". Does very much exist, is quite well known.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Eagle

      Also pretty sure that "American Eagle" is a store, not a bird.
  • nerd on March 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM
    Lol the golden eagle is also a special attack in Maplestory....
    • yeeeah on March 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM
      props for referencing maplestory bro
  • party in the usa (View Email) on March 14, 2011 at 9:54 PM
    I opened my SC today and I was like HOLY SHIFT LOOK AT THAT ASYM- those really big pictures of the SMOB candidates. You guys really did go all out on that, SCP.

    [BTW, SCO, nice one! http://twitter.com/mbhsSCO/status/40254178131443713 I'd like to know who wrote that~]

    Good luck to Alan and Hal in the upcoming election season. I'm sure both of them will be visiting this page in the next couple of days, so HI GUYS!
  • I've been told that Silver Chips interviews are no (View Email) on March 14, 2011 at 10:20 PM
    Just based on superficial impressions, I want to vote for Alan again.
    Hal's interview feels rigid, his sentence structure is elementary, and his answer to that last question is neither humorous nor intelligible. It borders on ridiculous.

    Content-wise, um, Alan wins. I guess. Not that that matters. Since when has the SMOB ever done anything truly notable?

    Oh, and I like Alan's picture more too (Hal's shirt and tie combo clashes horribly).
  • Alan on March 14, 2011 at 10:55 PM
    YEA ALAN XIE ALL THE WAY
  • omg on March 14, 2011 at 11:26 PM
    wow the guy on the top was on my sticker!
  • A broken record... on March 15, 2011 at 6:12 AM
    "...regular students aren't pursued or informed by their SMOB, as if he or she becomes invisible."

    Are we done beating this horse to death? I think it's a given that our SMOBs have tried their best to increase communication over the years...

    We've gotten a website, Facebook group, etc. and SMOBs like Tim and Alan have made an effort to reach out to kids through SMOB 2.0 and SMOB Council.

    Things have certainly gotten better since the 90s, I'll say that much. But can you expect one person to devote 99% of his or her energy to talking to over 140,000 kids? That's not even the most important part of the job...

    Last time I checked, the SMOB was an elected public official. Obama doesn't spend all of his time trying to talk to the 300+ million people of the US. You travel around your jurisdiction, get as much public input as you can, and then you get back to work.

    The SMOB makes a lot of important decisions with the Board, and that's where our energy should be focused at. It's a shame that most kids don't care or don't participate in the process, because it's open for them. SMOBs can visit schools and communicate as much as they want, but 9 out of 10 kids are going to choose the movies over a meeting. If kids actually showed up to budget hearings, maybe ...
  • The Goalie on March 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM
    Even though Alan seems confident and is experienced, Hal brings a certain energy to the table which gives him my vote.
    • Ironic. (View Email) on March 17, 2011 at 1:34 AM
      Hahahahaha, seriously? Let's take a look at last year's Silver Chips.

      People can be swayed by Alan's "charm" but the point of the matter is when it gets tough(which it will) and its nut check time; whose the man for the job. Someone with the proven record and who knows the politics of the county and really of the state better than ANYBODY ELSE. ............NICK MAGGIO ALL THE WAY!!!!

      Are you saying Hal's "lax bro" demeanor is more preferable? I don't know about that...
  • Just saying... on March 15, 2011 at 10:48 PM
    Your comment honestly made me laugh. It also makes me ashamed to go to the same school as you. You obviously don't know Alan...

    Great rumors, though. You should get your own ABC Family show for that.

    Maybe you haven't bothered to consider that RM administration has been driving Alan to meetings all year at a moment's notice. Maybe he bought them donuts as a thank you gift.

    Maybe you forget that Alan works harder than 99% of kids in your school. Your pathetic jealousy is pitiable. I heard he's taking more APs this year than you probably ever will, because he knew how to manage his time at his summer internship...

    And honestly, EVERY candidate does it for their resume. You don't think Tim did? If you're a senior and you've actually seen the Common App, then you'll realize how little space extracurriculars (like SMOB) get on college applications. Do you thin Hal has any more experience than Alan did last year?

    Maybe you should realize that Hal's shallow promises reveal his obvious lack of knowledge of the school system. And if Alan hiring the new superintendent isn't enough work for you, then maybe you lack knowledge of the school system too.

    Get your facts straight before you start spouting nonsense and claiming to be from RM. If making up lies about Alan and belittling his hard work is how Hal's friends campaign for him, then I'm starting to question his morality. You have to know Alan to realize how much time he puts into this job, and how much weight he's lost. Take the above picture (from last year) and compare it to your voter guide. That's at least ten pounds. That's dedication.
    • this isn't perez deary (View Email) on March 18, 2011 at 2:20 PM
      I love Alan as much as everyone, but the weight loss... man, he looks better than ever. Don't hate. (He's not a Lincoln!)

      Also bb "just sayin" is my tag. Thanks.
  • kevin on March 15, 2011 at 11:13 PM
    Why do I support Alan Xie for SMOB?
    Because the students of MCPS deserve a representative who doesn't cheat (Hal Zeitlin goes to Churchill. Alan's integrity and diligence is apparent to all his peers and colleagues)
    Someone who doesn't merely see SMOB as a means to get into college (Hal has no chance of getting into college without becoming SMOB, considering his awkward sentence structures vs. Alan's smooth, eloquent sentences).
    Someone who considers his teachers and the integral role they play in students' lives by thanking them with food.

    Alan's "accomplishments" this year aren't impressive, but Hal's will be way less impressive. His definition of outreach is asking for people to call him anywhere anytime to "talk."
    Hal is naive, vague, and idealistic. Judging from his answers, he thinks he is some kind of hero, which is not practical.

    Hal is outgoing and, sure, it "resonates." But that doesn't do anything for us. Alan's experience and eloquence does.
    • Hold up, girl. (View Email) on March 17, 2011 at 1:39 AM
      Admittedly, the first commenter is both incorrect and out of line. But given that it wasn't actually Hal saying those things, that makes your comments out of line as well.

      Please keep the election a fair and unbiased experience for everyone. Just because students at Hal's school made stupid decisions does not make him one of them. Also, Hal's sentence structure seems fine to me.

      At any rate, please refrain from personal attacks. I still think it's ironic that Alan has become the less outgoing/cool candidate. Or has he?
    • sam jones (View Email) on March 17, 2011 at 2:47 PM
      Saying that Hal won't get into college if he doesn't win is both low and does not add anything to the discussion. Its important to have a real discussion about this, not an insult war.
      • That's what happens... on March 17, 2011 at 11:13 PM
        This explains a lot about modern politics.

        Some Hal supporter throws a shot at Alan, and suddenly everybody's out to kill each other.

        Not saying any of them are right or that anybody is more wrong than somebody else...but...

        You know. It's just ironic how people commend kids for being better than adults, because it looks to me like we're far worse.
  • American Eagle? on March 16, 2011 at 12:07 AM
    Aeropostale is cheaper but these days people are more into Hollister or A&F.
  • Eastern Student on April 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM
    YEAH EASTERN!!!!
  • i love alan xie on April 4, 2011 at 10:55 PM
    Alan Xie is the love of my life.
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