Board of Education candidates discuss various issues in online forum

Oct. 20, 2022, 4:44 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 1 year, 7 months ago

Topics ranged from teacher recruitment to school policing

On Oct. 14, Board of Education candidates participated in an online forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County. Candidates were asked wide-ranging questions which included issues such as teacher recruitment, school accountability, and school policing. 

Questions were submitted by the forum’s many sponsors, which included NAACP-Montgomery County, Identity, Inc., American Association of University Women, METRO DC PFLAG, Asian Pacific American Advocates, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Chinese American Parent Association of Montgomery County, Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network, ElevateHER and Asian American MOVE.

The candidates are Mick Erickson and Karla Silvestre for at-large, Grace Rivera-Oven and Esther Wells for District 1, Scott Joftus and Julie Yang for District 2 and Valerie Coll and Brenda Wolff for District 5. All candidates were present at the forum except for Erickson. 

In light of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) struggling to find enough teachers, teacher recruitment was a major topic of the forum. Solutions varied: while Joftus and Wells proposed increasing teacher pay across the board, Silvestre and Rivera-Oven argued that MCPS should encourage students to eventually teach in MCPS. 

Another major topic discussed was oversight and accountability. Wolff and Coll wanted to see funding going towards proactively meeting student needs while Joftus stressed the importance of tracking the progress and implementation of county initiatives. Additionally, Yang and Oven both mentioned the need for transparency in the way school funds are spent. 

Finally, candidates shared their views on the presence of police in county schools. Yang and Rivera-Oven don’t support police involvement in county schools, especially given concerns over the negative effect police could have on students of color. “Having SROs at schools is not the magic answer to all the issues of school safety,” Rivera-Oven said.

Wolff asserted that while MCPS should take those concerns into account, the county can still work with the police. "[Police] should be part of a comprehensive system of support that has to include mental health, wellness and preventative services,” Wolff said.

Both Wells and Silvestre added that while there are ways that police can help and work with MCPS, there should be clear boundaries set as well. 

The Montgomery County Board of Education general election will be held on Nov. 8 

Last updated: Oct. 21, 2022, 8:07 a.m.

Tags: Montgomery County Board of Education race Montgomery County Public Schools

Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »

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