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April 18, 2017

White + male + upcounty = Our next SMOB

by Lauren Frost, Online Entertainment Editor
The achievement gap, bring your own device policies, the quality of school lunches and who has the best stickers are just some of the issues middle and high school students across Montgomery County consider as they log into their computers to cast their votes. They are voting for who will represent them when it comes to important school board decisions: the Student Member of the Board of Education, or SMOB. Unfortunately, for many students it is difficult to relate to either of their options.

Although Montgomery County has an array of students from different backgrounds, the majority of the SMOB candidates all come from the same one. There needs to be more diversity among SMOB candidates to have different and more diverse issues raised and to better represent the county's array of different people.
The Student Member of the Board position has been filled with many candidates of similar, upcounty backgrounds. Courtesy of Montgomery County
The Student Member of the Board position has been filled with many candidates of similar, upcounty backgrounds.

The students of Montgomery County come from 164 different countries and are 23.4 percent black, 23.4 percent Hispanic and 15.7 percent Asian, yet this diverse student body is faced with two possibilities for SMOB: a white male from upcounty or another white male from upcounty. Since the creation of the Student Member of the Board nearly 40 years ago this has mostly been the case.

Of the 39 past SMOBs only 12 of them have come from downcounty or Northeast Consortium (NEC) schools, including two from Blair. Most of the SMOBs come from upcounty schools, which are known to be more affluent, such as Bethesda Chevy-Chase (BCC) and Richard Montgomery. These schools are vastly different from schools in the Downcounty Consortium such as Kennedy, Einstein and Blair. Compare BCC, where current SMOB Eric Guerci attends, and Kennedy High School , whose last (and only) SMOB came in 2000. BCC has a graduation rate of over 95 percent while Kennedy's is slightly less than 80 percent.

There are also significant financial differences when it comes to location, at BCC the amount of students who have ever been on Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) is 20.9 percent,at Whitman , another upcounty school it is less than 5 percent however in downcounty schools that number is significantly higher, at Kennedy it is 79.2 percent and even at Blair it is 55 percent.
This year Matt Post is a final candidate for SMOB, he is from Sherwood High School. Courtesy of Matt for SMOB
This year Matt Post is a final candidate for SMOB, he is from Sherwood High School.

There's a clear difference in the status of these schools, and 70 percent of the student members of the board coming from upcounty have done little to help the students from the schools that are struggling. While current SMOB nominees are trying to get food trucks to come to schools upcounty, there are many students downcounty who can scarcely afford the school lunches. If more students from downcounty were able to secure a position as SMOB they could bring the issues that they face to the Board of Education's attention instead of these issues being cruised over or being brought up by a person who doesn't experience the issues first hand. Schools in the lower part of the county such as Kennedy and Einstein are facing different issues than schools upcounty such as BCC and their voice deserves to be heard as much as the voices of the upcounty students
Alex Abrosimov, from Richard Montgomery High School, is also a final candidate for SMOB, is is also white, male, and hails from upcounty. Courtesy of Alex for SMOB
Alex Abrosimov, from Richard Montgomery High School, is also a final candidate for SMOB, is is also white, male, and hails from upcounty.

There is also a lack of young women who make up SMOB members. Only 28 percent of past SMOB members have been female. There are many issues that affect women in school, dress codes and sexual harassment to name a few, and these issues are more likely to come up with a women representative. Women bring another perspective to the table, even when it is not specifically about female dominated issues. Take Ananya Tadikonda who ran, unsuccessfully, for SMOB for this year, but brought up issues such as diversifying the curriculum, allowing students to follow their passions and allocating money to the minority scholars program, all of which were unique to her in a pool of seven other male candidates. From a different perspective, she was able to bring light to new problems.

With most of Blair’s population, and over half of MCPS's, being minorities and the SMOB continuously being of the upcounty, white, male type, the views of these groups and the issues that these groups face can be overlooked. Without having someone, time after time, who can truly reflect and represent a vast number of MCPS students and the issues they face in school, we the students are essentially left voiceless. Here at Blair we pride ourselves on having diversity and on the different perspectives and experiences it brings to the table. The office of SMOB should be able to do this as well.



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  • Martha (View Email) on April 19, 2017 at 10:09 AM
    Sherwood is upcounty?
    • Yes on April 21, 2017 at 9:35 AM
      Sherwood is at the same latitudinal level as Poolesville, Seneca Valley, and Watkins Mill.
    • MEB (View Email) on June 6, 2017 at 12:40 PM
      There are 26 high schools in MCPS (including Edison) - 3 are considered the "Northeast Consortium" and 5 are considered the "Down County Consortium". Unlike these named consortiums which were grouped together to provide academic programs and choices to specific populations, "Up County" is not specifically defined by MCPS except when defining the region for the "Up County" Middle and High School magnet programs at Roberto Clemente Middle and Poolesville High. To apply to these “Up County” Programs, a student must be from the following 9 high school clusters: Clarksburg, Damascus, Gaithersburg, Magruder, Northwest, Poolesville, Quince Orchard, Seneca Valley, and Watkins Mill – students from every other school in the county would apply to more southern programs at Eastern and Takoma Park Middle Schools and to your Blair High School.

      To simply say that if a school is not in either the NEC or the DCC then it must be “Up County” is inaccurate. Three of the remaining 9 previously unclassified (“other”) schools are inside the beltway – no one but you would think these could EVER be considered “UP” County. The Rockville schools also are not northern enough to be considered “Up County.” Nor could it be argued the location of the school is what defines Up County from others (such as the previous reply that Sherwood is at the “same latitudinal level” as Poolesville) – one must look at the borders of the cluster to determine what makes sense. Upon inspection of this MCPS cluster map (http://gis.mcpsmd.org/Viewer.html), the reader can see Sherwood draws from the Eastern portion of MoCo while more “latitudinally” equivalent schools Gaithersburg, Northwest, and Poolesville draws from northern reaches of the County.

      Now on to your primary argument – COME ON! You can’t compare the races of the SMOBs 30-39 years ago to today’s given the sea change the MCPS population and demographics have experienced in that same time period. If you look at the racial make-up of the student population in 1978, it will look A LOT different than in 2017 – additionally, many of the northern-most schools didn’t even exist because the population of the anything north and west of Rockville and Gaithersburg was small compared to the eastern and southern regions of the county. So, since you didn’t even address the points of population explosion and the huge change in racial make-up of the county, your argument lost credibility.

      Now limit the SMOB data over last 20 years to get a more accurate comparison to the diverse population for which you try to make your argument. In that time, there were only 6 years where the SMOB was white (2 of these years it was the same guy) – 5 other years, the SMOB was African-American – the SMOB was Asian/Middle Eastern 8 times (twice, the same person was voted in 2 years in a row) – and only once was the SMOB Hispanic (and was the only time since 1978). That seems more reflective of our county’s population, no?

      In the same most recent 20 years, the SMOB came from a true “Up County” schools 8 times, from the NEC 4 times (ALL from Springbrook), from the DEC twice, and from “others” 6 times. Again, a lot different than the argument you’re trying on.

      A good point you make is the representation of female candidate which has not shown improvement in the last 20 years (only 25% of SMOBs).
      All in all, you would have better served your reader to (a) limit your analysis to the most recent [X] years (I picked 20), (b) recognize that if a school isn’t DEC or NEC it isn’t necessarily considered “Up County”, and (3) compare the demographics of the schools represented to the candidates and voters in society as a whole to see if what is going on in schools is similar to what is going on in the Country– now THAT would have been an interesting comparison.
    • MBS (View Email) on June 6, 2017 at 12:44 PM
      There are 26 high schools in MCPS (including Edison) - 3 are considered the "Northeast Consortium" and 5 are considered the "Down County Consortium". Unlike these named consortiums which were grouped together to provide academic programs and choices to specific populations, "Up County" is not specifically defined by MCPS except when defining the region for the "Up County" Middle and High School magnet programs at Roberto Clemente Middle and Poolesville High. To apply to these “Up County” Programs, a student must be from the following 9 high school clusters: Clarksburg, Damascus, Gaithersburg, Magruder, Northwest, Poolesville, Quince Orchard, Seneca Valley, and Watkins Mill – students from every other school in the county would apply to more southern programs at Eastern and Takoma Park Middle Schools and to your Blair High School.

      To simply say that if a school is not in either the NEC or the DCC then it must be “Up County” is inaccurate. Three of the remaining 9 previously unclassified (“other”) schools are inside the beltway – no one but you would think these could EVER be considered “UP” County. The Rockville schools also are not northern enough to be considered “Up County.” Nor could it be argued the location of the school is what defines Up County from others (such as the previous reply that Sherwood is at the “same latitudinal level” as Poolesville) – one must look at the borders of the cluster to determine what makes sense. Upon inspection of this MCPS cluster map (search "MCPS GIS data viewer") the reader can see Sherwood draws from the Eastern portion of MoCo while more “latitudinally” equivalent schools Gaithersburg, Northwest, and Poolesville draws from northern reaches of the County.

      Now on to your primary argument – COME ON! You can’t compare the races of the SMOBs 30-39 years ago to today’s given the sea change the MCPS population and demographics have experienced in that same time period. If you look at the racial make-up of the student population in 1978, it will look A LOT different than in 2017 – additionally, many of the northern-most schools didn’t even exist because the population of the anything north and west of Rockville and Gaithersburg was small compared to the eastern and southern regions of the county. So, since you didn’t even address the points of population explosion and the huge change in racial make-up of the county, your argument lost credibility.

      Now limit the SMOB data over last 20 years to get a more accurate comparison to the diverse population for which you try to make your argument. In that time, there were only 6 years where the SMOB was white (2 of these years it was the same guy) – 5 other years, the SMOB was African-American – the SMOB was Asian/Middle Eastern 8 times (twice, the same person was voted in 2 years in a row) – and only once was the SMOB Hispanic (and was the only time since 1978). That seems more reflective of our county’s population, no?
      In the same most recent 20 years, the SMOB came from a true “Up County” schools 8 times, from the NEC 4 times (ALL from Springbrook), from the DEC twice, and from “others” 6 times. Again, a lot different than the argument you’re trying on.

      A good point you make is the representation of female candidate which has not shown improvement in the last 20 years (only 25% of SMOBs).

      All in all, you would have better served your reader to (a) limit your analysis to the most recent [X] years (I picked 20), (b) recognize that if a school isn’t DEC or NEC it isn’t necessarily considered “Up County”, and (3) compare the demographics of the schools represented to the candidates and voters in society as a whole to see if what is going on in schools is similar to what is going on in the Country– now THAT would have been an interesting comparison.
  • Systematic Issues on April 19, 2017 at 10:35 AM
    This likely stems from the time that is consumed when one runs for SMOB. Many of the more diverse students have other time-consuming responsibilities such as jobs or sports, leaving the affluent (and usually white) students to run. However, this is only a small part of a fairly flawed system that advantages schools who only have one candidate. It seems clear to me that the entire system should be reformed.
  • Glen Foster (View Email) on April 19, 2017 at 8:37 PM
    I Believe Alex is a good option and has our best interests at heart. There are many situations where we see more affluent schools get attention while many lower - budgetary schools get constantly looked over. With this SMOB, they must be aware of the constantly changing demographic of the MCPS student body, and the flux of budget constraints and changes. Alex, however, is well aware of these prolonging issues alongside, the achievement gap, social media restriction, and the makeup of school lunches. I believe that instead of worrying where they come from but moreover what will they do for our county and how they will usher MCPS in to our future. Vote Alex for SMOB.
    • No way on April 20, 2017 at 11:05 AM
      Alex already had his turn last year and he lost. Move on. Let someone else from downcounty run. Yeah, he can claim to care about us in the DCC, but then again you could just have someone actually *from* the DCC...

      So don't vote for Alex. Or Matt. Just sit it out. Our dislike of both candidates can only be reflected by low turnout.
    • No on April 21, 2017 at 9:31 AM
      Alex is NOT aware of the budget constraints of the county. His plans include fixing schools, adding more classes, hire more counselors -- all of which cost exorbitant amounts of money in a county that is seeing its budget reduced, not increased. None of his plans are fiscally responsible. He talks about no other SMOB candidate fulfilling their campaign promises, but his plans are not just unlikely but unfeasible. I don't particularly wan't to vote for a white upper class male, but if I am required to I'm going to support the one who could possibly get things done -- Matt Post.
    • Ayylmao on April 24, 2017 at 9:33 AM
      I know its you Alex
    • A Concerned Student on April 24, 2017 at 9:36 AM
      I Believe Matt is a good option and has our best interests at heart. There are many situations where we see more affluent schools get attention while many lower - budgetary schools get constantly looked over. With this SMOB, they must be aware of the constantly changing demographic of the MCPS student body, and the flux of budget constraints and changes. Matt, however, is well aware of these prolonging issues alongside, the achievement gap, social media restriction, and the makeup of school lunches. I believe that instead of worrying where they come from but moreover what will they do for our county and how they will usher MCPS in to our future. Vote Matt for SMOB.
    • A Concerned Student on April 24, 2017 at 9:50 AM
      I Believe Matt is a good option and has our best interests at heart. There are many situations where we see more affluent schools get attention while many lower - budgetary schools get constantly looked over. With this SMOB, they must be aware of the constantly changing demographic of the MCPS student body, and the flux of budget constraints and changes. Matt, however, is well aware of these prolonging issues alongside, the achievement gap, social media restriction, and the makeup of school lunches. I believe that instead of worrying where they come from but moreover what will they do for our county and how they will usher MCPS in to our future. Vote Matt for SMOB.
    • Me too thanks on April 25, 2017 at 10:22 PM
      Don't vote for him he's an ass
  • KA (View Email) on April 25, 2017 at 9:14 PM
    When my classmates and I watched the debate video, we noticed that Matt had ideas for fixing problems such as discrimination and mental health issues. Whereas Alex just knew what the problems were and that they should be fixed. There is a huge difference there. Also, Matt emphasized the importance of fixing the above two issues more than Alex, which I thought was meaningful.
  • SJW Burner on April 25, 2017 at 10:20 PM
    Sorry, why is this piece of crap even published? Needs to be proofread at least.
  • Handmade Machine on April 25, 2017 at 10:24 PM
    The grammar in this article is atrocious, do you guys even proofread?
  • Jake (View Email) on June 4, 2017 at 11:04 PM
    Most of the SMOBs come from upcounty schools, which are known to be more affluent, such as Bethesda Chevy-Chase (BCC) and Richard Montgomery

    BCC is upcounty? WTF?
  • billy bob on August 29, 2017 at 2:32 PM
    pizza is yummy
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