Montgomery County school board, District 5
District: District 5 Political party: Independent Birthplace: Detroit, MI Age: 51 Residence: Silver Spring Family: Married with four children, one on college and three in MCPS Education: BA University of Michigan. MBA Loyola University Professional experience: President of a successful high technology firm for 16 years, founder and president of the Wilderness Technology Alliance (WTA), a non-profit organization that has partnered with 118 schools and community-based organizations in three states to implement technology work-based learning program for at-risk kids, earning some of our nation's highest awards for education impact and excellence, 2000-current; Global Lead, Technology in Education and Youth Entrepreneurship, World Vision (the largest global non-profit organization in the world), current; US Department of Education IT Career Cluster Initiative-Washington State CEO; US-Department of Education - Stanford Education Hero, awarded by the US Secretary of Education to 10 people in the United States for demonstrated excellence and heroism in education, 2000; Computerworld-Smithsonian Laureate for Education 1999, and 2002 Community experience: Founder Technology Education and Work-Based Learning Program at YMCA of Montgomery County; Board Member, Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) Homeless Shelter, 2006-current; Member, Montgomery County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Review Board, 2008-current; Knights of Columbus, 2008-current; MCPS PTSA - 2008-09; Key issues: - Improve student learning while reducing the high-cost of education though fiscal responsibility, implementing / expanding proven practices and leveraging 21st century technology to provide access to on-line accredited education anytime and from anywhere. - Highly leverage Montgomery County's location at the heart of the US political and economic system. This includes work-based learning opportunities for every student that require establishing deep and highly-integrated partnerships with business, local government and national government. It also means re-kindling the entrepreneurial spirit with extensive youth leadership and enterprise programs in every middle and high school. - Improve student behavior, a serious detriment to our children's education and contributor to teacher / administrator burnout. Institute the proven Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) system throughout MCPS, require parental involvement and more. Campaign website: www.louaugust.com Campaign e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Campaign phone number: 301-879-3331
Q. What are your top three priorities for the next four years, if elected? Same as the key issues noted above: - Improve student learning while reducing the high-cost of education though fiscal responsibility, implementing / expanding proven practices and leveraging 21st century technology to provide access to on-line accredited education anytime and from anywhere. - Highly leverage Montgomery County's location at the heart of the US political and economic system. This includes work-based learning opportunities for every student that require establishing deep and highly-integrated partnerships with business, local government and national government. It also means re-kindling the entrepreneurial spirit with extensive youth leadership and enterprise programs in every middle and high school. - Improve student behavior, a serious detriment to our children's education and contributor to teacher / administrator burnout. Institute the proven Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) system throughout MCPS, require parental involvement and more.
Q. How would you rate the performance of the current school board: excellent, good, fair or poor? Why?
Good. They brought top quality education to Montgomery County, yielding top rankings in many categories. However, they are not forward thinking enough and do not come from occupations that require collaboration and innovation skills, both critical for our School Board today. Technology and globalization have created major changes in almost every sector, from newspapers to finance and even to government. We must create a roadmap so our children can compete with a rising giant: Incredibly motivated youth from the developing world who are increasingly educated, earn $2 a day, and are competing for Western jobs through technology and the internet....and we must do all of this with less money than ever before!
Public education in Montgomery County has been delivered in almost exactly same way as it has for 150 years. With vast economic changes taking place not only in Montgomery County, but also across the world, we can no longer afford the high-cost model of education excellence that the Board and Superintendent have delivered to taxpayers. County, state and national budget shortfalls are bad and getting worse, and it would be irresponsible and potentially catastrophic to our children to continue with "business as usual."
We can do better, much better. Not only cutting costs through greater fiscal responsibility, but by massively leveraging relationships with business and government -- advantages that are not available to youth in other areas -- and by harnessing 21st century technology for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Q. How would you rate the performance of Superintendent Jerry Weast: excellent, good, fair or poor? Why?
Good. He is actually excellent at programs providing opportunities for the less fortunate. As one who devotes his life to this cause, I really honor what he has done. Yet, just as President Kennedy said, "a rising tide raises all boats," so also does a "lowering tide lowers all boats." This must be our #1, #2 and #3 priority right now. Montgomery County and America's loss of fiscal advantage and increasing budget deficits are a lowering tide that has the potential of devastating public education. Me must take aggressive and highly innovative action now, not only to ensure a soft-landing, but to improve student learning at the same time.
I applaud his practice of holding principals and upper-level administrators accountable for test scores. I would also extend that to student behavior. Parents do not want their kids bullied. They do not want them living in fear. Teachers and administrators are sick-and-tired of playing kindergarten cop and being held responsible for correcting behaviors that should be corrected at home. Ask a child in Montgomery County Public Schools what they think the #1 impediment is to a better education. Is it better buildings? Better teachers? Better materials? Or is it better behavior from other students who damage the educational experience for all? I work in schools in the developing world, and none have the widespread behavioral issues that American schools do. We must institute the proven interventions, including the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) system throughout MCPS, require parental involvement and more.
My biggest concern about Superintendent Weast is that he may not have an innovator's temperament, and innovation is what our school system needs right now. Properly navigating change in a dynamic world requires letting go of ego, listening to conflicting points-of-view, embracing new and proven ideas even when they are not your own and not holding grudges. Not doing so creates huge blind spots with even larger consequences. Just look at the debacle of the Promethean White boards, an 8-figure purchase I opposed from out outset due to off-the-self technology substitutes that were (and are) available at almost no cost at all.
Q. What is your assessment of the current state of the school system?
MCPS is doing very well, in fact, excellent for a school system operating in the 1990's. The problem is that it is 2010 and we are no longer educating in a small pond with a huge tax base and lots of local jobs. The pond is huge, in fact it is getting salty, and I don't believe MCPS remotely grasps what this means and how to prepare for it.
We are on the precipice of an overhaul in education methodology, access and re-apportioned economic opportunities the likes of which the world has never seen...and what has happened thus far is only the very beginning! How will our children compete with brilliant youth who are happy to earn $5 per day? How will we keep jobs in America when land is 1/100th the price overseas with few building restrictions? How will we keep education innovators interested in supporting American schools when they are greeted with volumes of red-tape at every engagement?
Our standard of living is not a right; in many ways we were just lucky to be at the right place at the right time. I work with education and economic development programs in the developing world every day and know their challenges and advantages. These youth deserve every chance to enjoy a better standard of living, and I will do everything I can to get it for them. But our youth also have a place this global economic puzzle, and I am equally determined to get them there. Doing so will require that we stop sugarcoating problems, leverage every advantage and innovate!
Q. What programs, if any, do you think are needed in the school system, and how would you pay for them?
There are many programs that we need. Below are my top three:
Access to quality education anytime and from anywhere. The face of education is being dramatically innovated and changed, but mainly in the developing world and by private education. Whether by satellite radio, VCD, computers and more, both are using technology and new paradigms for curriculum delivery to provide accredited high-quality education anytime and from anywhere. This is an effort I am involved in every day. In Montgomery County, we have the opportunity to dramatically broaden and deepen our curriculum options to students through on-demand on-line classes delivered to every home. As a school board member, I will implement comprehensive on-line learning delivered into every home in Montgomery County. For those families without a computer, MCPS will provide one at no cost to taxpayers. The free computers will be paid for by free federal programs that provide surplus technology to schools and by school-based computer refurbishing enterprise programs. The overall curriculum delivery platform will be paid by the down-stream consequence of more students learning from home or the library and less school-based expenditures for the same. I will also push for the formation of a new Board of Education committee related to this work: The Emerging Technologies Committee.
Partnerships with business. The Washington DC area has the largest concentration of business headquarters than any other place in the world. We must massively leverage this resource NOW for the benefit of our youth and even the business community. I will institute a comprehensive region-wide outreach to businesses, non-profits and government agencies in order to secure work-based learning opportunities for every student in Montgomery County. Focus will be placed on opportunities what provide global engagement opportunities for our youth. The program will be paid for though corporate sponsorships and cost savings from the down-stream consequence of more students learning from the workplace and less school-based expenditures for the same. I will also push for the formation of a new Board of Education committee related to this work: an External Partnerships Committee.
Comprehensive countywide youth entrepreneurship and leadership programs. Just as I identify that MCPS must learn to innovate in order to adapt, so must our youth. Middle and high school based entrepreneurship and leadership programs provide the ideal venue to teach innovation and leadership. As a national leader in this area, I will bring scaleable youth enterprise programs to every middle and high school, most with a global focus. The global programs will advance skills around managing the client-side of a global engagement and include partnerships with high schools and universities in the developing world. Montgomery County students will not hide from global change, they will embrace it and lead it! This program adds no additional cost and all programs will be encouraged to generate revenue in order to sustain and grow, while adding authenticity and accountability to their enterprises.
Q. Does the County Council have too much, too little or not enough oversight of the school system? How would you improve the relationship between the school board and the council?
The County Council has good enough oversight of the school system. They are ultimately responsible for the budget and the fiscal responsibility of its membership ultimately determines how much oversight it chooses to exercise. Given recent budget deficits and weak contract negotiations with unions, I have separate concerns about he fiscal responsibility of Montgomery County Council.
The best way to build a partnership is by doing things together and I will aggressively support many areas of collaboration: We need to work together to develop a close partnership with businesses and government in order to provide work-based learning for every student in Montgomery County. We will also work together to implement comprehensive on-line learning throughout the county, including providing access to more computers in libraries and community based organizations, programs to gift computers to low-income families and more. The school-based enterprises will need customers to consume their services, and I will encourage county government to lead the way. We also need to partner with law enforcement to be more pro-active with behavioral issues.
Q. Is county funding for schools too much, about right or too little? If too little, where would you find additional money?
It is where it is, and lawmakers and school officials make due with what we have. However, there is an old mindset on the board and in the county. Our world is developing cutting-edge solutions to address quality comprehensive education on a very small budget. MCPS is not tapped into these, nor to this thinking. We MUST expect to deliver our nation's best education with whatever resources we are provided. We MUST expect that these resources will become less as our economy falters and our deficits increase. Thus, we MUST expect to innovate, and we MUST innovate NOW.
However, two of the programs identified above will generate revenue for MCPS. Closer partnerships with business will include a comprehensive outreach for additional financial support, especially as large numbers of students are engaged in workplace learning. The school-based youth enterprise program will also provide MCPS will many low cost or no cost products and services.
Q. Is the recent focus on bullying overblown or should it be getting even more attention? What would you do about it?
It is a huge issue. But it goes way beyond bullying. We all have been immersed in a national school system that tolerates misbehavior. Most of us grew up in it. When you go to school in the developing world, more stunning than the austerity of their conditions is the great behavior of their students. Most still live in their ancestral lands and laid wide open for all westerners to see are the consequences of our urban migration, our pop-culture and the extermination of our native cultures. Unfortunately, because we are living in it, we do not realize how bad it is. I have great hope for, and fear of, this rising giant in the developing world that I love and I work with every day. For once armed with comprehensive, low-cost, quality education that is getting increasingly close, our children will pay dearly for all their parents and grandparents allowed to be lost. That is why we must comprehensively correct our behavioral issues and aggressively leverage every advantage in order to carve-out an economic niche for our youth in this emerging global puzzle. This includes universal access to work-based learning and on-line learning.
As a member of the School Board, I will push for wider adoption of Positive Behaviors Interventions and Support (PBIS), as well as other invention systems that create a conducive environment to prevent the development and occurrence of problem behavior, proactively and systemically make students aware of negative social behaviors while teaching and encouraging positive social skills, provide accountability, and continuously monitor student performance.