Why do you want to serve on the county school board?
Young: I have always been an advocate for education. My children (2 daughters) graduated from Lansdowne High. My youngest daughter went on to graduate from the Veterinary College at Iowa State. My oldest daughter graduated from Salisbury University and received a scholarship to Graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. I want to “Make BCPS Great Again”. BCPS has 23 recognized Blue Ribbon schools BUT on the other hand has TOO many failing schools. There is NO EQUITY in BCPS. The failing schools have not received the adequate resources to improve their student’s futures. I want to offer solutions to help fix EVERY school in BCPS. BCPS provides equality per school based on numerical formulas, but it does not provide EQUITY. Many schools need more resources other than those resources offered by BCPS according to their formulas. I also hope to change the “culture of fear” currently experienced by the students of BCPS but ALSO for the teachers and administrators in BCPS. People are afraid to say what the problems are in BCPS. Those that do speak out “ fear” retaliation. I want to grant the administrator’s of the schools more autonomy in deciding how its school problems are addressed. I also want to amend many policies of BCPS especially in the areas of Discipline and Grading. Too many incidents of violent behavior is going unchecked in our schools. Too many “NOT PREPARED” for “College OR Anything” students graduate because of the current LS and no grading homework policies in place.
Has the county’s use of educational technology in the classroom been appropriate? Do you support the system’s expenditures for student laptops?
Young: I will give credit to Dr. Dance for “dragging” BCPS into the 21st century. Now EVERY students and EVERY teacher can utilize a computer in their classes. However the launching of this initiative should have began at the high school level. There was a rush to judgement to have STAT’s 1:1 ratio in the elementary schools. The ratio of 3:1 would reduced the number of computers by 30,000 and would have allowed a faster implementation in every school. As it is, we only had 3 Lighthouse high schools this year. The high school teachers have not received adequate training by the STAT teachers. So the use of technology was inappropriate IMO because of lack of foresight by both the Board and the Superintendent. The savings from having 30,000 less computers in the ES would have saved $30 million dollars desperately needed for replacement schools throughout the county. The lack of oversight of the technological expenditures cost BCPS another $100 million dollars. The original Daly contract was for $205 million I believe and BCPS has now committed over $340 million. This lack of accountability of our county tax dollars is inexcusable.
Are the system’s resources fairly and equitably divided among its schools? Does the system provide adequate support for students with large populations of minority or low-income students?
Young: The resources appear to be fairly divided but they’re not. Kevin Kamenetz has proposed a 3rd NEW high school near Towson but NOT 1 new high school in Southwest Baltimore County. “Chevy” renovations are good enough for the Southwest. But they built 2 new elementary and 1 new middle school in District 1. The cost of those 3 new schools in District 1 only equaled the cost of the ONE new high school in District 3 (G.W. Carver). BCPS is going to build 2 MORE new high schools in the Towson area? That’s politics, not EQUITY. District 1 has the most over crowded elementary xchools in BCPS (currently +850 students). These are the future students for most of the middle schools and high schools in District 1 and NO planning that I can see is in place to accommodate future over crowding. BCPS estimates for the past 2 decades have been incorrect and ill planned. They build the new schools too late thus resulting in the over crowding. And the majority of BCPS failures have been in the under-served areas where the majority of the minority and low-income students have attended over-crowded schools their entire academic career in BCPS. We need EQUITY and we need it now. The priorities of BCPS are being driven by politics and they always have been. And now we have corruption in the mix too. What a shame. What a disappointment for the GREAT citizens of Baltimore County.
What additional steps, if any, need to be taken to ensure that the board exercises adequate oversight over the superintendent? Do you see a distinction between the disclosure failures that led to former superintendent Dallas Dance’s guilty pleas and those that interim Superintendent Verletta White has admitted to?
Young: A buyout clause needs to be in every contract. If the candidate doesn’t like the offer then move on to the next candidate. I believe that if through the actions of a Superintendent that the Board of Education would have a vote of confidence and should have an opportunity to exercise that buyout clause, annually or upon request by the candidate. There also should be a penalty for early resignation by the Superintendent for breach of contract. I will not comment about Superintendent White. That issue has been resolved. I am not a fan of her appointment nor of the behavior on the part of the majority of the board who approved her appointment.
Are the system’s rules on ethics, conflicts of interest and financial disclosure sufficient?
Young: The Ethics panel system seems to be working because of the due diligence of certain board members. I am glad to finally see a new contract that explicitly bans ANY extra monies for the Superintendent. I would like to see the same ban for many of the BCPS offices that deal with businesses. The Board must stay alert of future illegal activities and the system needs an independent top to bottom review for waste, fraud and abuse. Meaning I would support and ask for an external audit of BCPS and implement its recommendations, if any.
Do you think the school system's discipline policies keep students safe while appropriately disciplining students who exhibit poor behavior? What, if any, changes would you propose to the school system's discipline policies?
Young: The students do not feel safe. The schools are not safe. The violence in the schools is not be reported and in many cases, the violators are returned to the same class the same day. This has to STOP. The ambiguities in the discipline policies of BCPS (i.e. MAY result in) need to be addressed. REAL weapons and threats that are perceived to have REAL merit MUST result in immediate suspensions, until their hearings are held. Many teachers are fed up with the noncompliance by the administration to address the seemingly daily incidents of violence in many Baltimore County schools. Learning vannot occur in a disorderly atmosphere and teaching cannot occur when discipline is not being enforced. As a former BCPS teacher, these rules are sacrosanct. Zero tolerance for ANY dangerous students. Our children lives are at stake. BCPS needs to review its numbers and placements of its PPW and other social workers throughout the entire system. If we need more than HIRE them.
What are your views on the Common Core and the PARCC exams?
Young: I support Common Core. Common Core has been adopted by over 40 states. I do not support PARCC. Maryland made a big mistake with PARCC and is now considering alternative measuring devices and tests for literacy and math. We need some standardized measuring method throughout a child’s educational career in BCPS other than teacher’s grades and tests. BCPS graduates too many unprepared students and does not ready them for the real world experiences they are about to face. PARCC scores, or for that matter, ANY standardized test scores should NOT be used as a graduation requirement for students AND shall NOT be used for teacher’s evaluations IMO.
Should diversity be a factor in decisions about drawing new school attendance zone lines?
Young: Diversity should be a consideration but not a factor. We have many segregated communities in Baltimore County. But these are community schools as well as magnet schools. Children who are capable should be given a fair opportunity to attend any magnet school that they choose. We have some magnet schools holding lorreries for the seats but are NOT at full capacity. That makes no sense at all. Since we have segregated neighborhoods, we’re bound to have some highly segregated schools. I do not want to see BCPS students being bussed around Baltimore County to achieve some vague goal such as diversity. It cannot be forced upon anyone. It will occur on its own accord.
How would you set priorities for school construction and renovation? Has the county devoted adequate resources to maintaining or replacing school buildings?
Young: I have a 3 tier plan for priorities of school construction. Separate all the ES, MS and HS construction plans and prioritize them separately. Use the capitalization/utilization inspection scores as part of each school’s score for priority. We must also consider over-crowding as a priority too. Then develop a 10 year construction/maintenance projection plan. Prioritize each category of schools and then consult, confer and allow the Board of Education to determine the order and prioritization of the projects. This 10 year plan will be reviewed EVERY year and if needed, adjusted every year according to the needs (NOT THE WANTS) for each school AND community. Remember there are many more elementary schools than MS and HS combined.