Thursday, November 1, 2012

Seckinger for Board of Education

In the Board of Education District 4 race I am voting for Annita Seckinger.  

What's missing from our current Board of Education? Accountability and Transparency.  
MCPS parents have enough in their lives raising children without having to deal with constant surprises from their Board of Education.  Decisions of the Board of Education should be made with full transparency and ample notice to parents.  Something as fundamental as new curriculum should not be a surprise.  

Board of Education members  should honor and respect the Maryland Open Meetings Act.  See here, here, here, herehere, here, and here for violations of the Maryland Open Meetings Act during current BOE member Christopher Barclay's term.  

If BOE members honored and respected the Maryland Open Meetings Act there wouldn't be BOE surprise votes! It's that simple.

It's time for a change.  And that change is Annita Seckinger

Ms. Seckinger offers the opportunity for parents in Montgomery County to elect a Board of Education member that will be responsive to their concerns.  Ms. Seckinger will be someone who will listen and learn.  

The Parents' Coalition sent out questionnaires to both Ms. Seckinger and the current District 4 BOE member.  

Ms. Seckinger responded.  The current BOE member did not.  Parents can't have a dialogue with BOE members if they don't know where the BOE members stand. 

Here's what Ms. Seckinger had to say: 

1. Do you support an online checkbook for MCPS such as is used in a number of
other public school systems including Miami-Dade County Public Schools?

Yes, I do. An online check register allows taxpayers to see how the Districts spend
their money for products and services. It will also encourage the open bidding
process, and thereby assure money is being spent wisely.

2. MCPS has minority contracting goals—we want more business to flow to people of
color. Currently, do you believe the practice of awarding non-bid contracts supports
these goals? What would you do to make MCPS always use a fair and open bidding

I am completely in support of an open bidding process. One way to do this might be
to use a similar method as the checkbook or check register. The BOE needs to be
accountable for its spending since it is spending tax payers’ money hopefully in the
best interest of the tax payers’ children. After a bid is accepted, it should be posted
on line along the other bids that were considered but rejected.

3. Do you support a U turn away from a one-size-fits-all education and restoring
and improving wider choice of education opportunities for our children, including
restoring learning centers for special education students, restoring honors classes,
and restoring non-IT vocational education?

I more than support it. I intend to actively promote a wider choice of education
opportunities, including vocational education. I was one of those children who would
have benefited greatly from such programs. As someone who grew up with (at the
time undiagnosed) severe dyslexia, my school years were difficult to say the least.
Not all children are cut out to be academics, nor do they need to be. We need to
encourage and help our children develop their particular talents and potentials. It
is time we understood that what we keep referring to as learning disabilities are
actually different ways of seeing the world and different learning styles. We need to
respect, celebrate, and help promote them.

4. Do you support requiring new initiatives and new curriculum be required to
undergo a legitimate pilot study that meets the minimum standards from the U.S.
Department of Education for reasonable evidence before deploying to the whole
county? Do you support assessing all new initiatives against the minimum U.S.
Department of Education standard of "what works"?

I am definitely in favor of legitimate pilot studies, but need to learn more about the
US Department of Education standards, before committing to using this as a bench

5. If elected to the Board of Education, will you support or oppose MCPS' practice of
permitting principals to assess students fees to attend public school classes?

I oppose student fees to participate in public school classes. Public school is
supported by taxpayer dollars and any additional fees for classes are, both illegal,
completely unethical. The practice needs to stop. It is not benefiting our children at
all. We are here to do all possible to help out children, not hinder them.

6. Do you support a U turn from current policy of paying attorneys for advice on
how to skirt the Maryland Open Meetings Act to a policy of full compliance with
the Act and spirit of the law of open meetings, and even going beyond the legal
requirements of the Act?

Spending money on attorneys to defend an illegal action is an unscrupulous act,
and should not be support by anyone. These funds would be of better use to the
community if used in the schools, as would the complying with the Act in the first

7. Do you support returning the preparation of the MCPS budget to the public Board
of Education table?

I believe it should be transparent and public no matter where it is or who is involved.
Frankly, with the current Board’s lack of transparency I wonder if it would make a
difference. We need to solve the transparency issue of the Board as a first priority
before we assign them more things to hide.

8. Do you believe that the MCPS Educational Foundation should be transparent in its
sources of funds and its expenditures?

Believe? Absolutely. I am a firm supporter in transparency on any and all levels.

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