Board of Education candidates participate in Bethesda Beat forum

Nov. 1, 2022, 2:35 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 1 year, 6 months ago

Candidates shared their views two weeks before the general election

On Oct. 26, Bethesda Beat hosted an election candidate forum where Montgomery County Board of Education (MBOE) candidates shared their opinions on a variety of subjects. The forum lasted 90 minutes, and was moderated by Bethesda Beat Executive Editor Anne Tallent.

The candidates that participated were Karla Silvestre for at-large, Grace Rivera-Oven and Esther Wells for District 1, Scott Joftus and Julie Yang for District 2 and Brenda Wolff for District 5. District 5 candidate Valerie Coll was not able to attend, and at-large candidate Mike Erickson did not respond to invitations to the forum. 

When asked about how to solve the learning loss caused by the pandemic, candidates Yang and Joftus shared different approaches. Yang said she would like greater mental support for students, as well as “clear pathways in science, technology, mathematics, arts and engineering.” Joftus focused on implementing coherent initiatives focusing on school structures, resources, and culture. 

Mental health was another key discussion point in the forum. Rivera-Oven focused on the benefit of hiring specialists from a variety of backgrounds. “We have professionals who speak English, who speak Cambodian, who speak Mandarin who were mental health professionals in their countries,” said Rivera-Oven. 

Candidates were also asked if they thought “MCPS addresses LGBTQ acceptance in age-appropriate ways” and if MCPS provides adequate support for LGBTQ students. 

Wells and Silvestre both believed that MCPS was providing sufficient support for LGBTQ students. Silvestre described MCPS efforts to increase LGBTQ acceptance and support. “MCPS has worked very hard on this issue with community groups. It has become a leader in the country in terms of implementing the state standards and we have created our own guidelines of work with our staff to support [LGBTQ students],” Silvestre said. 

Candidates also restated their positions on issues previously covered in an online forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County on Oct. 18. Those topics included  issues such as teacher recruitment, school accountability, and school policing. 

The general elections will be held on Nov. 8 and early voting is open now until Nov. 3

Last updated: Nov. 1, 2022, 2:36 p.m.

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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