Montgomery County Board of Education District 1 | Bethesda Magazine

Montgomery County Board of Education District 1

 

Nonpartisan

 

Maria Blaeuer

Where you live: right outside Laytonsville, near Gaithersburg

Date of birth: Dec. 16, 1975

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Director of programs and outreach for Advocates for Justice and Education, a nonprofit that focuses on parent empowerment and the rights of students, especially those with disabilities.

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): None

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

MCPS is a great system, but it can be better and needs to be more inclusive of our diverse community and responsive to all families.

Not all families and students are equally well-served by MCPS. As a result, many students do not achieve to their potential. Too many families and teachers feel unheard by the BOE and administration, and can’t participate in important decisions around school policies that directly impact their experience and education.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

We have a well-documented graduation/achievement gap between white youth and our youth of color.
I support:
• Incentives for highest performing teachers to teach at highest need schools.
• Ensuring equitable access to magnet/specialized programs — including geographically equitable access.
• Recruiting and retaining more teachers of color and teachers who speak more than one language
• Investing in early education (Pre-K & supporting quality affordable childcare programs) and in early identification and intervention.
• Investing in early elementary literacy — not reading on grade level by 3rd grade is a significant risk factor that we can and should address.

3 – What is one major issue the current school board has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I have been disappointed with the Board’s disregard of community input in policy creation on several fronts:

• Student safety: Parents clearly stated that they expect reforms in how abuse allegations are reported and investigated, but that has not been addressed in a meaningful way.

• Families (and many teachers) raised concerns about a lack of adequate PE and recess time, concerns about school food, lack of support for student mental health, but again, those concerns have not been meaningfully addressed.

Curriculum 2.0 is another example of how the BOE needed to listen to parents and teachers, but didn’t.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I am a former two-time PTA treasurer with 3 children. I have two children in MCPS right now & one who recently graduated from MCPS. I’ve also been an education attorney for the past ten years, focusing mostly on representing families in special education and school discipline matters. I serve on the board of a small charter school that serves at-risk youth and I have trained parents, teachers, school and district administrators, attorneys and other professionals across the country on education law and how to build stronger, more authentic school/family relationships.

 

Judy Docca (incumbent)

Where you live: Montgomery Village

Date of birth: June 24, 1939

Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Member of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Previously: teacher of Spanish and French in the District of Columbia and in Montgomery County; assistant principal at Montgomery Blair High School; principal at Argyle Middle School; coordinator in the Department of Human Relations in Montgomery County Public Schools. Worked for MCPS for 38 years.

Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Three terms as school board member

Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

• Eliminate the opportunity gap for African-American and Latino students
• Support initiatives to increase opportunities in “Choice” programs for all students. Few seats have been added during the growth of the population in MCPS
• Increase diversity in hiring with attention to recruiting Asian and Latino employees
• Return teachers to classes from special assignments to keep classes in Special Education and English Language Learners classes small
• Use nontraditional space for special programs to ease overcrowding.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

• Maintain budget priorities

• Keep positive relationships with funders — the State, the County Executive and the County Council

• Pay attention to overcapacity of schools; closing the opportunity gap; make sure “Choice” programs are available in all portions of the County — Upcounty and East County

3 – What is one major issue the current school board has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

We need to make sure our staff is able to receive appropriate training in curriculum, testing and reporting on student progress to parents and community members. Advertise meetings in which the public may ask open-ended questions about the schools and policies.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have worked in education for 38 years as a teacher of Spanish and French; a coordinator in Human Relations; a teacher of Hispanic, African-American and Ethnic Groups in American Society. I have a B.A. in Romance Language and Literature, Penn State, an M.A. in Romance Language and Literature at GWU and a doctorate in Educational Administration at GWU. I was a youth sponsor, a vice president in the NAACP, a founder of the Montgomery County Alliance of Black School Educators, an SAT tutor and a two-term vice president of the BOE.

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