Tag Archives: Jill Ortman-Fouse

JOF, Progressives Take on Ficker

By Adam Pagnucco.

Former school board member Jill Ortman-Fouse is co-chairing a new group opposing Question B, Robin Ficker’s charter amendment on property taxes, along with former Jamie Raskin staffer William Roberts. The group has attracted a large number of progressive institutional supporters as shown from its website below.

Right out of the gate, MoCo Against B has released this video going after the architect of Question B, Robin Ficker himself.

MoCo Against B’s press release appears below.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daniel Koroma
info@mocoagainstb.org

SCATHING NEW AD LAUNCHED AGAINST QUESTION B

New coalition of concerned citizens, voters, religious organizations, area non-profits and unions drops tough new ad opposing Robin Ficker’s Question B on Montgomery County ballots.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, September 23, 2020 — Montgomery County residents today saw the first political advertisement on the contentious “Question B” that will be appearing on their ballots this election. The ad, called “Dangerous”, takes aim at the ballot question, which according to the clip, would hinder the County’s COVID response, cause slashes to schools and essential services, and threaten Montgomery County’s AAA bond rating.

The coalition behind the new ad is called Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B and is made up of concerned citizens, faith groups, teachers, firefighters, unions, and local non-profits. Montgomery Neighbors Against Question B is co-chaired by former Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse and current Chair of the Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board, William Roberts. Their treasurer, Daniel Koroma, is a White Oak community advocate and serves as the Business Liaison for the Montgomery County Government. The group aims to defeat Question B by shining a spotlight on its own plain language, its disastrous outcomes, and the intentions of its creator.

“With this new ad, we want to show Montgomery County voters exactly what Question B says and just how damaging it would be to our schools, our essential services, and our economy,” said Laura Wallace with Jews United for Justice, one of the many organizations in the coalition. “Jewish tradition teaches that each of us has a duty to ensure that everyone in our community has the resources they need to thrive — especially during this pandemic. Now is not the time for fiscal irresponsibility.”

Question B is the brainchild of notorious heckler and right-wing operative Robin Ficker. If it were to pass, it would limit the County’s ability to generate revenue by limiting it to the previous year’s revenues, adjusted for inflation. It would strip the Council of its override power and could strangle local schools, emergency services, and other essential services.

“Question B is bad for communities of color. Black and Brown communities were already facing gaps in education, employment and small business support services before the COVID-19 pandemic. If Question B passes, our communities, already facing the devastation of COVID-19, would face the brunt of the negative impact of Question B” said Daniel Koroma.

Following the launch of this ad, Neighbors Against B will be working until polls close to educate voters on the fiscally irresponsible nature of Question B and encouraging them to oppose it with their vote.

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For additional information, please contact Daniel Koroma at info@mocoagainstb.org.

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MoCo’s Nasty School Board Race, Part One

By Adam Pagnucco.

Negative campaigning has a long and brutal history in Montgomery County but this year’s school board election is emerging as one of the most contentious contests in decades. The arguments contain echoes of the titanic school board election battles of the early 1980s, in which a conservative faction led by Marian Greenblatt was eventually toppled. Then as now, race, school boundaries, accusations of busing and the shadow of national politics mixed in a bubbling witches’ brew that no cauldron could hold. There is nothing new here. Rather, skeletons emerge from the grave to refight battles that seem as eternal as they are ancient.

The immediate impetus of the current dispute is a change made to MCPS’s facility planning policy in September 2018. Prior to the change, four factors were weighted equally in picking sites for new schools and changing school boundaries: demographic characteristics of student population, geography, stability of school assignments over time and facility utilization. The new policy was revised to contain this sentence on demographics: “Options should especially strive to create a diverse student body in each of the affected schools in alignment with Board Policy ACD, Quality Integrated Education.” Jill Ortman-Fouse, who at that time was on the school board and helped lead the effort to change the policy, justified it by saying, “Diversity matters. Let’s weight that a little bit more.” MCPS followed up by hiring a contractor to study school boundaries and implementing a redistricting in Germantown and Clarksburg that spawned a lawsuit.

Now supporters and opponents of the new facilities policy and the boundary analysis are at war. The leader of the opposition is Stephen Austin, a newcomer to MoCo politics who set up a Facebook group last winter that now has almost 8,000 members. It’s unusual in the county for such a large group to form so quickly without external organization and funding, but schools are a hot issue here for folks with all kinds of perspectives. The other side is a group of MCPS activists favoring the boundary analysis, many of whom have been active on school issues for a long time. Their spiritual leader is Ortman-Fouse, who has made diversity her signature issue both during and after her tenure on the school board. Austin is one of 13 candidates running for an at-large school board seat in a field with varying views on school boundaries. Strong feelings run high on both sides.

My personal sympathies lie with those who favor diverse schools. My upstate New York elementary school was roughly 90% white. When I moved to MoCo, I deliberately chose to live near a diverse public elementary school so that my kid could benefit from being around others with different races, cultures and life experiences. My choice paid off in a BIG way. My kid has experienced both diversity and superb academic instruction at the same time. He is much better prepared for the modern world than I was at his age. So I won’t be voting for any candidate who opposes diversity.

But there is more going on here than just that one issue.

I read the posts in Austin’s Facebook group almost every day. There are statements on there with which I disagree. There is some nastiness directed at the other side (and the press). But there are also participants who express a mixture of curiosity, concern and skepticism. Some distrust what they see as a centralized school bureaucracy that does not communicate very well. (This is one sentiment they share with some on the other side!) There are plenty of folks there who are not white. There has also been discussion of issues other than the boundary analysis. It’s a more complicated place than Austin’s opponents might admit. However, some of the blame for that goes to the moderators who have kicked out people who disagree, causing the exiles to assume the worst since they can’t view the content themselves. Inflammatory tidbits sometimes leak anyway.

I’m not all that worried about the pugilists in the ring. In politics, anyone who throws a punch should be ready to take a punch. But I do wonder about the people in Austin’s group, as well as on other social media threads, who read all of this material and say nothing. What are they thinking? I bet more than a few believe there is no point in saying anything because if they do, and if they vary from the orthodoxy of either side, they will be subject to bitter, public personal attacks. How many folks who have something to contribute will never run for school board or get involved with school issues at all for fear of being hurled into the mud?

Here is a great irony. Austin’s supporters believe that the school board does not do enough to oversee or challenge MCPS management – a view shared by some on the left. It’s a common perception that some school board members get assimilated into the system after winning office (with the notable exception of the 2015 revolt against then-Superintendent Josh Starr). Bereft of a sizeable, independent staff of analysts reporting exclusively to them, the board risks being at the mercy of a management that can control information and set tight boundaries for policy decisions. One school board member who resisted that tendency was none other than Ortman-Fouse, who never backed down from management, regularly demanded (and released) data and engaged in actual constituent service – just like elected officials are supposed to do. Put aside their ideological disagreements and Ortman-Fouse could provide a model of independent-minded school board service that even Austin and his folks could appreciate were it not for their mutual loathing.

At this point, tribal politics has taken over this race. Each tribe fears what the other one will do if it wins. Non-tribe members are barely acknowledged even though at least 99% of the county has no idea what is going on in this election. The disengagement of so many voters and the sheer oddities of present times make this a hard race to divine.

In Part Two, I’ll assess the tactical environment in what might be MoCo’s strangest election ever.

And in Part Three, I’ll talk about a few issues that have been largely undiscussed so far but collectively will determine at least as much of MCPS’s future as any boundary analysis.

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MoCo’s Most Influential, Part Seven

By Adam Pagnucco.

Part One of this series laid out the rules and methodology for how we determined MoCo’s most influential people. These lists were developed by adding together the nominations of 85 people who are themselves extremely knowledgeable and influential. Today, we present the mind-bending conclusion!

5 (tied). Jill Ortman-Fouse, Former Member, Board of Education – 16 votes

Source: Love her or loathe her, she’s taken center stage in the most controversial topic in county politics right now.

Source: Even though no longer in an elected position her past actions on the BOE had influence over what is happening with the BOE/MCPS now. She regularly stirs the pot online and offline and isn’t scared to go head to head with her opponents.

AP: It’s amazing to think that JOF’s influence is even greater now than during her time on the school board, but it is. Even her opponents in the school boundary war concede her influence with their relentless and often personal attacks. JOF’s lasting mark will be in her mentorship of the next wave of MCPS activists, many of whom idolize her and have vowed to carry on her agenda of diversity and equity for years to come.

5 (tied). DeRionne Pollard, President, Montgomery College – 16 votes

Source: Not only has she done tremendous work with the college, partnered with corporate and community leaders as well as electeds across the county, but she’s also led strategic conversations on race as she tries to address those barriers not only for her students, but for the future of the county.

Source: Holy moly, what a dynamo of leadership! She is inspiring, bold and always on! She shoots for the moon and rarely misses. Just look at her track record of budget successes for the college.

AP: It’s easy to forget what a mess Dr. Pollard’s predecessor, former Montgomery College President Brian Johnson, made of the college. The college’s professor union discovered through public information act requests that Johnson was frequently absent from the office, “routinely censored” information, prevented employees from talking to trustees and ran up outrageous expenses. Later, it was revealed that Johnson was wanted for arrest in Maricopa County, Arizona for failure to pay child support and the sheriff even said, “We’d be happy to put him in jail.” Thankfully, that’s ancient history. Montgomery College has rebounded nicely under Dr. Pollard’s leadership and is now one of the highest-ranking colleges in Maryland. That’s one reason why she has been at the college for ten years, an unusually long tenure for a person in her position.

4. Gino Renne, President, MCGEO – 17 votes

Source: Still one of the gorillas in MoCo politics, always at the table.

Source: Manages to be influential despite MCGEO’s pathetic track record in actually getting candidates elected. Remember the Duchy vs. Berliner showdown? OK, Gino lucked out when Marc Elrich squeaked out a win in a crowded primary, but I have no idea why so many elected officials get so concerned about what MCGEO thinks – yet there it is.

AP: The Godfather has been stomping on politicians and getting contract results far exceeding the private sector for a looooooong time. But with a budget crisis looming, he is about to go up against the only force more powerful than he is: a bad economy.

3. Jack Smith, Superintendent, MCPS – 24 votes

Source: Schools are still the number one issue.

AP: This being Montgomery County, the MCPS Superintendent will always be on this list. However, none of Jack Smith’s predecessors have had to do what he is doing now: designing and implementing a distance learning program for the entire student population in a matter of weeks. If he pulls it off well, it will be a huge success story for the entire school system.

2. Adam Pagnucco, Co-Author, Seventh State – 28 votes

AP: Two words. Sample bias! Let’s move on to number one.

1. Casey Anderson, Chairman, Montgomery County Planning Board – 31 votes

Source: Chair of the planning board, an incredibly influential position that even people in-the-know underestimate, and perhaps the only official (elected or otherwise) who has a vision for where he wants the county to go. Together, they’re a dangerous combination.

Source: His views on housing, schools, and transportation are respected in both Rockville and Annapolis.

Source: Perhaps the most activist planning board chair ever, tied in closely to smart growth/YIMBY movements and will play the central role in the upcoming General Plan, which will set the stage for 50 years of land use planning and subdivision staging which is top of mind for the here and now.

Source: With incredible data to back him up, he is changing the conversation around development/moratorium/etc.

Source: Has made many strategic moves with planning. Innovative visionary.

Source: His post gives him huge power over land use. He wields his power effectively to satisfy his overlords on the council. As a regular on the Democratic Party circuit, his interest in partisan politics suggests Casey is jockeying for a run at elective office.

Source: Someone has to stand up to Marc Elrich.

Source: Land use is political in this County. Has overseen numerous policies and plans that will shape this County for years to come. Surprisingly laid back guy when not in his official capacity. Last term on the Planning Board – what will he do next?

AP: Casey is my choice for the most influential non-elected person in MoCo. He is not only the most prominent smart growth leader in the county today; he has become one of the greatest planning board chairs ever. His stewardship of the upcoming general plan as well as his role in crafting many other master plans over the years will put his stamp on the look and feel of this county for the next 50 years.

That’s it! Thanks for reading!

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Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, June 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Let’s look at the June campaign finance reports for the Council At-Large candidates, the last ones available prior to the primary.  A note on methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Third, for publicly financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in the column entitled “Cash Balance With Requested Public Contributions.”  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

Below is our fundraising summary for the Council At-Large candidates.  We are including only those who have qualified for matching funds in the public financing system or have raised at least $100,000 in traditional financing.  With a field this deep and talented, candidates who have not met either of these thresholds will struggle to compete.

Four candidates are bunched at the top: incumbent Hans Riemer and Will Jawando, Evan Glass and Bill Conway.  Two more – Hoan Dang and Gabe Albornoz – have raised enough money to compare with past candidates who have won.  Then there is MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm, who is working as hard as anyone and has an entire side of the Apple Ballot to himself.  That has to be worth the equivalent of an extra mailer or two.  Finally, school board member Jill Ortman-Fouse is not a money leader, having entered the race very late, but she does have a base of loyalists who could be very useful in working the polls on Election Day.  Overall, our view is that Riemer will be reelected, Jawando and Glass are in good positions and one – maybe two – of the others named above will likely also be elected.

Here’s a question for the readers: why are the female candidates not raising more money?  Danielle Meitiv (who ranks 10th on the chart above), Marilyn Balcombe (11th), Brandy Brooks (12th) and Ortman-Fouse (14th) are all good candidates running in an electorate that is 60% female.  Not only do their totals lag the above men – they also lag the amounts raised by Beth Daly (2014), Becky Wagner (2010), Duchy Trachtenberg (2006 and 2010) and of course four-term incumbent Nancy Floreen.  Public financing was supposed to equalize the influence of small contributors, including women, with corporate interests that are overwhelmingly male dominated.  And yet the nine top fundraisers are men.

Let’s remember that the best-financed candidates don’t always win.  Exhibit A is the chronically underfunded Marc Elrich, who finished first in the last two at-large races and could be the next County Executive.  The at-large race also has produced surprises in the past, including the defeats of incumbents Blair Ewing (2002), Mike Subin (2006) and Trachtenberg (2010).  As soon as your author thinks he has the at-large race figured out – BAM! – something different happens!

This is probably the best at-large field in MoCo history.  It’s sad that only four of them will win.  But so it is.  On to Election Night.

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Campaign Finance Reports: Council At-Large, May 2018

By Adam Pagnucco.

Today, we look at the Council At-Large candidates.  As with yesterday, we start with a note on methodology.  First, we calculate total raised and total spent across the entire cycle and not just over the course of one report period.  Second, we separate self-funding from funds raised from others.  Self-funding includes money from spouses.  Third, for publicly financed candidates, we include public matching fund distributions that have been requested but not deposited in raised money and in the column entitled “Cash Balance With Requested Public Contributions.”  That gives you a better idea of the true financial position of publicly financed campaigns.

Below is our fundraising summary for the Council At-Large candidates.

First, a few random notes.  As of this writing, five at-large candidates – Craig Carozza-Caviness, Ron Colbert, Paul Geller, Richard Gottfried and Darwin Romero – have not filed May reports.  Lorna Phillips Forde did file a May report and requested matching funds, but her report contains many duplicated entries and is a big mess.  We are not printing her numbers until they get straightened out.  Michele Riley has given herself a combined $21,000 in two loans and one contribution, which exceeds the $12,000 self-funding maximum allowed in public financing.  That needs to be corrected or otherwise remedied.

Now to the numbers.  In the pre-public financing days, winning at-large candidates generally raised $250,000 or more with the notable exception of Marc Elrich.  Four candidates are in that territory: Hans Riemer (the only incumbent), Evan Glass, Bill Conway and Will Jawando.  Gabe Albornoz and Hoan Dang are not far off.  Delegate Charles Barkley (D-39) has not raised quite that much, but he started with a big war chest built over years of little competition in his district.  The cash on hand leaders are Glass, Riemer and Barkley, who are virtually tied, followed by Conway and then Jawando.

In evaluating differences in cash position, we don’t find variances of $20,000-30,000 very significant.  That’s because candidates schedule their expenditures differently.  Some have spent a bit more before the deadline and some held back to show a bigger balance.  What we do find significant is the difference between candidates who have close to $200,000 available for the final push – Riemer, Glass, Barkley and Conway – and those who have half that amount or less, such as Albornoz, Dang, Marilyn Balcombe, Jill Ortman-Fouse, Mohammad Siddique, Ashwani Jain, Danielle Meitiv, Seth Grimes and Brandy Brooks.  (Forget about those who have $25,000 or less.)  The latter group of candidates now faces very tough decisions on resource usage.  A mailer to super-Dems can cost $35,000-$45,000 depending on how the universe is defined.  So a candidate with $100,000 on hand might be able to squeeze out two or three mailers and that’s about it.  Is that enough to stand out given all the other races going on?

Institutional endorsements also play a role.  Several of the lesser funded candidates, especially Brooks and Meitiv, have some good endorsements that could help them.  We think the biggest beneficiary will be MCPS teacher Chris Wilhelm, who has more cash on hand than Albornoz, Dang and Balcombe and also has the Apple Ballot.  If the teachers mail for Wilhelm, that could effectively close the gap a bit between him and the top-funded candidates.

For what it’s worth, the conventional wisdom is that Riemer will be reelected, Glass and Jawando will join him and the last seat will come down to Conway or Albornoz.  We’re not ready to buy that for a couple reasons.  First, among the seven County Councils that have been elected since the current structure was established in 1990, only one – the 1998-2002 council – had zero at-large female members.  Combine that with the fact that 60% of the primary electorate is female and it’s premature to write off all the women running.  Second, this is an unprecedented year.  We have never had public financing before and we have never had so many people running at-large.  What seems like conventional wisdom now could seem very unwise in the blink of an eye!  So we expect surprises in this historic election.

Next: the council district races.

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Ortman-Fouse Files for Matching Funds in Record Time

By Adam Pagnucco.

Board of Education member Jill Ortman-Fouse, who is running for Council At-Large, has filed for matching funds from the county’s public financing system.  Ortman-Fouse took 49 days from the date on which she established her campaign committee to apply for matching funds, a FAR shorter period of time than any other candidate.

Ortman-Fouse’s application, made on April 16, lists $23,466 in contributions from 368 county residents, exceeding the Council At-Large thresholds of $20,000 and 250 residents.  Below is the number of days between committee establishment and matching funds application for the twenty candidates in public financing who have applied for matching funds.  (Five other candidates submitted applications but were ruled ineligible by the State Board of Elections.)  Bear in mind as you read the stats below that the candidates have different qualification thresholds.  Executive candidates must collect $40,000 from 500 county residents.  District council candidates must collect $10,000 from 125 residents.

Ortman-Fouse totally smoked her competition in filing time, something that is going to turn heads among her competitors.  In just one term, she has become arguably the most popular school board member in the county since Blair Ewing, who left to run for County Council twenty years ago.  One reason for that status is her close attention to answering constituent questions and her constant social media interaction with them, something that is typical of the best elected officials in county and state governments but is unusual for school board members.  That has given her a network of supporters that approaches the level of incumbent County Council Members.  How far that penetrates into the rank-and-file voting public is unknown, however, as few voters can name their school board members.  And Ortman-Fouse has also been handicapped by her late start, missing out on the endorsement processes of many influential organizations.

That leaves us with a general observation.  It’s true that the top fundraisers in the Council At-Large race are men and that men have received most of the influential institutional endorsements (with some going to Brandy Brooks and Danielle Meitiv).  But the Democratic primary electorate is roughly 60% female and of the seven councils in the current structure since 1990, only one (the 1998-2002 council) lacked a female at-large member.  So don’t count out the women, dear readers – and especially not Jill Ortman-Fouse!

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Jill Ortman-Fouse Announces for Council At-Large

By Adam Pagnucco.

Board of Education Member Jill Ortman-Fouse just announced on Facebook that she will be running for Council At-Large.  This comes eleven days after she said she would be running for reelection to the school board.  We will have more to say about this and other events in the Council At-Large race, but for now, we reprint Ortman-Fouse’s Facebook post below.

*****

Black men make up 2% of the nation’s educators in our schools. John Robertson is one of those role models who would like to make a bigger difference as your at-large Board of Education member. As you might recall, that’s my seat. 😉

I’m going to try not to give you whiplash from my candidacy for board announcement last week, but here it goes:

I really appreciated all the amazing responses to my announcement — from educators, students, parents, neighbors and community members. You all are wonderful and I’m extremely blessed to know you.

Then I heard that someone had jumped in my race. Nervously, my whole family set about searching to see who he was.

We found his graduation speech. I read it and I thought, wow. Another search revealed he had a masters in social work. I literally talk about MSWs’ skills in terms of the mental health challenges we are facing in our schools all the time. As you know, our students’ (and their family’s) mental health needs, have been a priority for me. Then I texted some folks to see who might know him. He was described as “smart, mature, innovative.”

My friends said I could beat him. Incumbents always have an advantage — especially in a county of over 1 million people where getting your name out is hard. Then I’d text them the links, and they would agree with me, that he sounds amazing.

So, Mr. Robertson and I had coffee. I went down my list of biggest concerns and things I’m passionate about for our students, staff and school system. We are clearly on the same page. I’m going to step out of the race because I’m confident John would be a great addition to the team, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about him.

What next? Well, one of the things I get in trouble for is working outside my approved lane of education policy — because I care as passionately about the issues that impact our kids and families outside of our schools as the ones inside. So, why not try making it official as a member of our County Council? I realize others have made the suggestion along the way (which I appreciated) and in a much timelier fashion. 😉 But I didn’t want to leave the work unsupported.

I know there are about 30 candidates running for four at-large seats. I know I haven’t even started to raise money for a campaign. I know some organizations have already endorsed, and other candidates have been campaigning for almost a year.

But I also know that we have made a difference together, and I would like to continue to work with our community and our leaders at the county and state level to make our collective vision a reality. I would bring everything you have counted on in my work on the board to the council. I certainly would understand if members of our community were disappointed. I know how valuable your partnership is, but I think we could actually have an even bigger impact together on the council.

I would bring the education focus and knowledge of where the gaps are to continue to advocate for our schools. I would continue to be a strong voice for transparency, accountability and responsiveness, to ensure our county resources are used most efficiently and effectively. And I would bring my experience as an elected leader representing your interests, my desire to listen closely to different voices and respect them — even when I disagree, working as hard as I can for our community to win together, to the council role if I were so fortunate to win that position.

I am going to need 250 contributions of $150 or less, totalling $20,000 in about 75 days to qualify for public financing. I know it’s a very steep climb. But I’m an eternal optimist, and my friends who have volunteered to help are amazing. So, stay tuned…

I know I made you scroll twice. That’s my thing.

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Endorsement and Announcement

First, EMILY’s List has endorsed Joseline Peña-Melnyk for the open Fourth Congressional District. EMILY’s List supports pro-choice Democratic women for elected office in federal and gubernatorial races. It has already weighed in strongly in the U.S. Senate race with a $1 million ad buy for Donna Edwards. It will be interesting to see the level of resources committed in the Fourth.

Second, Shebra Evans has announced her candidacy for School Board from the Fourth District in Montgomery County. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

Montgomery County is and will continue to be a great place for education as long as we keep our focus on classroom instruction. We should never forget that we are here to help all students achieve. Shebra wants the education community–students, parents, teachers and administrators–to excel.  The education community excels with the closing of “opportunity gaps” and the expansion of “education opportunities”.  Students excel when they are inspired by dynamic teachers.  Parents and teachers excel by listening and working together.  All excel with the hiring of and the retention of visionary administrators who view education through a lens beneficial to students, common to parents, compelling to teachers with a singular goal of making a Montgomery County education, the very best it can be.

Shebra has done and continues to do the work needed to advance the education community. She has served in a number of capacities within the educational community.

·         PTA member and PTA Officer
·         Board of Directors for Montgomery County Council of PTA’s
·         MCCPTA Vice President – Educational Issues
·         MCCPTA Vice President — Programs
·         MCCPTA — Recording Secretary
·         Member of the Delegate assembly
·         Coordinator Wheaton Cluster
·         MCPS – Operating Budget Review Workgroup
·         MCPS- Wheaton High Advisory Committee
·         MCPS- Math Exam workgroup
·         African American Student Achievement Group — Co-leader

In addition to her work with the local schools, Shebra serves in the Children’s Ministry at her church and is actively involved with Girl Scouts of America.

Shebra earned her Bachelors of Business Administration degree in Economics and Finance.

Though there is a residency requirement, all county voters will be able to participate in this election.

Evans had the support of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) in her previous bid, which she lost narrowly to Jill Ortman-Fouse. As former MCEA President Bonnie Cullison tweeted her enthusiastic support, my guess is she will again.

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No Longer Waiting for a Starr to Fall

MCPS Superintendent Josh Starr and the School Board put the school system out of its misery with his planned exit. Starr leaves in two weeks and all involved have agreed never to speak of it again. It’s all so Downton Abbey.

At this point, figuring out exactly why Starr needed to go remains a mystery. Lou Peck helpfully put together that Judy Docca, Michael Durso, Jill Ortman-Fouse, and Rebecca Smondrowski demanded that he go. Puzzled Montgomery residents may still wonder why. Here is the Washingotn Post‘s explanation:

Montgomery County is a consistently high-achieving district with improving graduation rates and strong SAT scores. County officials familiar with school board deliberations told The Washington Post that Starr’s exit was not the result of a single issue; instead, a series of perceived missteps added to a simmering concern about Starr’s ability to build on the success of Jerry D. Weast, who retired in 2011 after a 12-year run.

County officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were describing private conversations, said the board members who lost faith in Starr cited concerns with his approach to closing the school system’s achievement gap and his candidacy for the chancellorship of New York’s public schools after a little more than two years in Rockville. They said his personal style was at times remote and dismissive, and they mentioned the lack of coherent vision for principals at the district’s 202 schools.

After reading this, I’m still wondering, Improving graduation rates and strong SAT scores sound not too shabby. The negative phrases of “perceived missteps” and “simmering concern” read like verbiage that could appear in almost any bureaucratic porridge. Doesn’t exactly reek of the polarization associated with Michelle Rhee or utter failure of many of her predecessors.

The concerns about his candidacy to be New York Chancellor make me shrug. It might be seen as a sign that we were on the right track the school system of America’s largest city considered him a good candidate. Would we prefer a superintendent that no one else wants to hire?

There is also a certain double standard in demanding total loyalty that we are clearly unwilling to reciprocate. Someone who wants to move up also has a real incentive to make the system he currently runs function well.

I’m still trying to figure out what the “coherent vision for principals” concern means. It could suggest a lack of clear marching orders. On the other hand, it might indicate a welcome lack of interest in wrapping up the job in the latest educational fashion. As someone who works in academia and has seen trends come and go, that wouldn’t bother me. Is it just bad relations with the School Board?

We’ll never know, though many theories will circulate widely. Less of a problem for the public’s right to know–I’ll manage in this case–than that it may leave potential good candidates wondering why he went and if they want to follow.

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Thanks @MoCoYoungDems

I just wanted to thank the Montgomery County Young Democrats for having me over tonight. I had a blast meeting lots of people and sizing up the races. Oddly enough, I even got to feel young as the MCYDs are older than the students I taught earlier in the day.

Paraphrases of a few of the really good questions they asked: Will the state legislative delegation and county council get along better after the elections? Why isn’t there more competition in the County Council races? Which incumbent is most likely to lose the at-large races? Will the General Assembly take up legislation on GMOs soon? Will our delegation be more progressive after the election? How can our elected officials be more effective in Annapolis?

Kudos to Melissa Pinnick for taking the lead in organizing a MCYD team for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Rockville. Click to sign up for this event or make a donation in support of this event.

I’d say it was great to meet future leaders but this is an active and influential group. Almost all of them are already highly active in leadership roles around the County and the State.

They’re also smart. They found the secret entrance on Platform 2 1/2 of the Bethesda Metro Station to the B-CC Regional Services Center. Marc Korman and Jordan Cooper promised that, if elected, they’ll make it easier to find.

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