‘Tis, of course, endorsement season.
When I first launched this blog, way back in the Beforetimes of 2014, I decided to issue endorsements (in part) to deconstruct the meaning of an endorsement in an evolving media landscape. I thought it might be an interesting way to lampshade the increasingly important role of blogs as information delivery vehicles/conversation drivers; particularly those blogs that cover local politics and public affairs at a time when local journalism is, shall we say, hurting.
On a less meta note, I also wanted to use the platform to support candidates I liked.
Which brings me to today’s post. With the Primary Election slightly more than two months away, I wanted to go on record with my support for three candidates for the Howard County Board of Education:
With the Board on the precipice of losing a great deal of institutional knowledge (with all of the incumbents up this cycle choosing to not seek re-election…or election in the case of the one appointed member), Howard County needs to elect Board of Education members who are thoughtful and experienced community leaders who have demonstrated their knowledge of education issues, their deep understanding of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), and their ability to work with a variety of stakeholders to achieve real-world outcomes that benefit our schools.
Of the 13 candidates vying to finish in the top eight in the June Primary and in the top four (and thus secure election) in the November General, I believe the three aforementioned candidates…Taj, Mallo, and Miller…are the best of the field and offer impressive talents and informed perspectives that would serve our schools, and the County as a whole, extremely well.
Sabina Taj has a long and distinguished history working on education issues. Her Foundation work has given her first-hand knowledge of K – 12 education best practices and creative, thoughtful solutions from across the country. To build upon the strengths of our schools, we need an influx of new ideas and Taj can offer fresh perspectives. Furthermore, Taj has a great deal of hands-on Howard County education experience, including being an Adjunct Professor at Howard Community College, a member of the Board of Education’s Operating Budget Review Committee, and as a member of the executive board of an elementary school PTA. Finally, her positions on priorities as reported in a candidate questionnaire she recently filled out… “healthy schools, healthy students…community representation…[and] educational equity” are all highly salient and well-aligned with critical community needs.
Jen Mallo has impressive education advocacy credentials. A former Chair and Vice Chair of the Community Advisory Council, a PTA and Boosters leader, and a highly engaged volunteer, Mallo has not only been a committed advocate for teachers, staff, and students…she has also had the opportunity to examine, in-depth, HCPSS practices, procedures, and systems. Now is not the time to elect candidates who require training wheels. Like Taj, I believe Mallo is ready to be an excellent Board of Education member on Day One of the job. They possess the right knowledge and the ability to ask the right (and tough) questions. Moreover, Mallo’s stated positions on priorities including “fiscal responsibility…teacher empowerment…[and] equity” reflect not only critical structural needs but also an analytic approach to problem solving. The Board of Education, bearing in mind the fiscal challenges faced by HCPSS, needs members with such analytic skills.
I have already written about, and announced my support for Robert Miller previously. So I will keep this short. Miller is a reflective educator who spent 34 years in the classroom. Miller has a deep understanding of effective teaching strategies and ideas on how to promote the best educational environment. His voice in policy debates will be a vital one. His stated positions on priorities such finding ways to increase the time spent on quality instruction, on improving the atmosphere and communications involving parents and teachers, and on preparing our students to be well-rounded citizens through increased social and emotional learning are all ideas deserving of an advocate at the Board-level.
Will there be a fourth BoE endorsement? Possibly but these three candidates have my full support. I encourage all Howard County voters to cast their ballots for Sabina Taj, Jen Mallo, and Robert Miller for the Board of Education in the upcoming June Primary Election.