Montgomery County Board of Education District 3

| Published: |
0

NONPARTISAN

Lynn Amano

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Feb. 28, 1966

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Owner/founder of American Shochu Company with my husband. Previously: Co-president of Atlanta Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND); worked in pediatric brain tumor research at Duke University.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): PTA president at Loiederman Middle School. Delegate to the County Council of PTAs. Worked on a number of campaigns.

• Campaign information:

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

Over the past 17 years as a parent and advocate in MCPS, I have seen missed opportunities to address the problems of our overcrowded, segregated, and unequal schools. I will bring current insights and creative solutions to tackle these persistent challenges. I believe that public education is a civil right, and it is our duty to help every child succeed. We can make smarter decisions and get better results.

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

The most important issue is the lack of resources to address the burgeoning needs of our school population. Explosive growth, with increasing poverty and language needs, has meant that we are struggling to maintain our quality of education. We need to coordinate efforts by communities and elected leaders to increase the share of money we receive from the state, county, and developers. We need smart decisions to stretch the dollars we have, and programming and investment to improve our schools. We can also reduce costs through creative use of existing schools and buildings, and careful budget oversight.

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

There are two interrelated issues the School Board has handled poorly: overcrowding and economic segregation. Both of these can be addressed with better decision-making and use of facilities. The Board has consistently voted to reduce economic diversity among schools in the same cluster. This increases overcrowding by creating schools with different income levels, and drives development around the “wealthier” schools. We can make more balanced decisions. We can support open, attractive school programs to engage students from diverse backgrounds in areas of shared interest. Improved schools across the county will attract families and developers away from our most crowded areas.

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

As a longtime anti-poverty and social justice advocate with a scientific background, I bring a well-rounded, holistic approach to problem solving. In my 17 years of advocating for better schools as a parent, PTA leader and committee member (ranging from boundary decisions to construction to the achievement gap), I’ve built collaborative relationships with activists and elected officials across the county. As a current parent, I’ve experienced overcrowding and high-poverty schools from the inside. I will bring new energy, perspective, and ideas to our persistent challenges, and ensure that every child has a pathway to success in college and career.

Patricia O’Neill (incumbent)

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Aug. 20, 1950

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: My work experience includes six years as a preschool teacher and 10 years as a retail executive.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): I am running for my sixth term. I was elected in 1998 and re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Prior to my election to the Board of Education, I spent 12 years as a PTA volunteer and leader in the Walt Whitman Cluster of PTAs.

• Campaign information:

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

I have been providing experienced leadership and advocacy for the citizens of Montgomery County since 1998. I work every day to keep our schools strong, so that every child has a bright future. I have experienced MCPS as a student (Walter Johnson H. S.), parent, and Board member. I believe in the power of public education.

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

The opportunity/achievement gap remains persistent. We have made some progress, but more needs to be done. Children receiving Free and reduced priced meals, Limited English language and Special Education services continue to struggle. We need continuous sustainable funding targeted to meet the needs for all children. We must evaluate what is working and eliminate what is not. We need to provide staff with the tools to deliver top quality instruction, curriculum, technology and training. Every child must be college and career ready when they graduate.

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

After the achievement gap, the answer is addressing the growth/facility issue. We have aging and overcrowded schools. We have too many children attending classes in trailers and using bathrooms that would be unacceptable to adults. The BOE needs to work more closely with other elected leaders and county agencies to ensure accurate enrollment projections, manage future growth and make sure that MCPS has adequate resources to provide safe, secure and modern facilities.

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

I am a 20-year veteran of the Board and I bring experience, wisdom and leadership at the local, state and national levels to the position. I have served as president five times. I am chair of the Policy Management Committee and as a member of the Fiscal Management Committee. I have served as president of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and co-chair of the Washington Area Boards of Education. I have served on numerous committees for education related issues. I was a longtime PTA activist in the Walt Whitman Cluster who served in numerous leadership roles.

Laura Simon

• Where you live: Potomac

• Date of birth: March 19, 1968

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Health activist/yoga instructor. Former business owner and product manager.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): For the past few years, I have had an active role on the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations’ Health and Safety Committee, including former chair of the Safe Technology subcommittee.

• Campaign information:

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

I am running for BOE because I think we could use a fresh perspective to get the best for our kids. I would like to see greater transparency and responsiveness; improved communication between the teachers and MCPS; more effort put into eliminating the achievement gap; greater emphasis on programs for at risk students, including increasing mental health support; less focus on standardized testing; and a school system that puts the safety of the children first.

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

The most important issue for me is screen time. Today our kids spend too much time on screens, both in and out of the classroom. Chromebooks and smartphones have become particularly troublesome in the classrooms for teachers. Kids are accessing inappropriate content, being distracted by social media, and having trouble focusing. Studies show that too much screen use in classrooms is negatively impacting physical and mental health and academic success. We must find the right balance, minimizing adverse health and developmental impacts and only using screens when they are proven to truly add value to a child’s education.

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

Chromebooks were rolled out without transparency or concern for health impacts. A more thoughtful course would have been to create a committee of health professionals to provide input in an open forum. Maryland’s Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC), established by the General Assembly, expressed concern over published science finding harmful effects from wireless radiation, and recommended reducing exposure to children with wired connections. Doctors have written to MCPS for years warning of the adverse health risks to children who are still developing. Yet rather than minimize risk, MCPS is continuing to increase the amount of wireless radiation.

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

I have two children currently at MCPS and two that have graduated. I have had kids at MCPS schools for over 15 years. I have volunteered with the PTA and the MCCPTA, leading the effort to revamp my children’s elementary school after-school enrichment program, and was a founding member of the Health and Safety Safe Technology group. I know only too well that kids grow up fast and the BOE needs to respond quickly to the challenges they face. I’m ready to take on these challenges and work towards a healthy positive school environment for all the districts children.

Back to Bethesda Beat >>

Newsletters

Leading Professionals »

Dining Guide