Why do you want to serve on the county school board?
Washington: I am running for those who have felt powerlessly insignificant in the 7th council district. Experience and a depth in perspective is what I will bring to the Baltimore County School Board, driven by charismatic leadership oriented in protecting and guiding the decisions that will govern our children, parents and teachers in the years ahead. I am the ideal choice for the following reasons: I am a parent of two children who have been a part of BCPS for over 18 years. (My youngest son is a junior at Eastern Technical High School) I formerly served as PTA President and Vice President of Dundalk Middle School. I presently am an Administrator at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). I served as a former K- 12 substitute teacher in BCPS. I am a community organizer who developed mentoring programs in local BCPS middle schools. With a vested interest and extensive experience connecting with the needs of the constituency, stakeholders, educators and legislators, I am the most suited to unify, leading the voice of our district upon the board of education. My voice and vote will be to fight for continuing resource investments in 1) our students, teachers and parents 2) emphasize infrastructural development 3) ensure the public safety of schools to ensure optimized conditions for learning
Has the county’s use of educational technology in the classroom been appropriate? Do you support the system’s expenditures for student laptops?
Washington: Technology is a powerful tool which has reduced barriers of access and accelerated the dissemination of information in our world today. We must continue to support our students with technologies that enhance knowledge acquisition, and promote positive performance outcomes in an efficient way. We must engage in a better process of no- bid contracts, to ensure sustainability and accountability in the fiscal management of tech associated expenditures. We must manage this tool from a scope of balance and sensibility that ultimately will lead to strategic investments. Human centered approaches to technology will be embraces as resources to support the needs of the education sector. Yet my position is clear, Technology was never meant to take the place of humans.
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?
Washington: Honestly no. System’s resources have not always been fairly and equitably divided. It been said the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in this case the affluent areas. In the southeast of Baltimore County, we have lacked the resources. With a vested interest and extensive experience connecting with the needs of the constituency, stakeholders, educators and legislators, I am the most suited to unify, leading the voice of our district upon the board of education. There are special populations within the school system that are growing at a disproportionate rate. Immigrant students taking English as a Second Language programs, are making up a growing segment of Baltimore County Students. In addition, the greater emphasis on early diagnosis has warranted a growing population of students with special needs and an expanded range of services required. Increased funding in those areas has helped, but not completely met the needs of the student caseloads that have drastically outpaced the budgetary constraints. In a jurisdiction of great diversity, I am an advocate for equity and supporting vulnerable populations. More staff is needed in those areas as well as in general education classrooms so all students can be fully engaged in their learning.
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?
Washington: The conditions surrounding this case, allows an opportunity for us to reflect not attack. Our systemic design can be improved to ensure the ethical integrity of our system. Demonstrating transparency and accountability, ensures the respectable stewardship of the institution unto the populous. More analysis must be done on our system to prevent issues from transpiring in the future.
Are the system’s rules on ethics, conflicts of interest and financial disclosure sufficient?
Washington: In an era of a lack of accountability and poor performance management there is an opportunity to implement best practices, examining standard measures in the field and audit fiscal expenditures to ensure quality assurance is optimized and any issues are addressed in an expedient manner. Ensuring ethical oversight of the school funds is necessary to determine spending aligns with strategic endeavors. Clearly, the current audit system failed to work with the recent scandal. I think it is incumbent on the new Board of Education to look at potential modifications, like bringing in an external auditor and/or providing accountability in oversight of the school systems fiscal operations. This is a platform that will support the consistent evaluation of our systems and policies to ensure ethical practices in the field.
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?
Washington: As one of the Conduct Administrator at CCBC I understand clearly that there are rarely perfect outcomes. In adjudicating cases, the primary goal should be taking a balanced approach that is student centered, and committed to creating conditions suitable for the academic environment. Protecting our teachers and students are a forthright priority. I hold clear strategic directions for disciplinary issues which may arise. While standard operating procedures are generally appropriate, more needs to be done to take the onus off of classroom teachers and hold each entity accountable for their role in the educational environment. That is why I support hiring more professionals to handle behavior and discipline problems outside of the classroom, thus demonstrating our commitment to classroom teachers to educate, not discipline.
What are your views on the Common Core and the PARCC exams?
Washington: Common Core and PARCC exams have serves as instruments indicative of the outcomes movement in the field of education. There is clearly a need to have standard measures and assessment tools to ensure our students are college ready upon graduation. I am a supporter of systems that are designed to structure performance and accountability measures in a manner that is sustainable in settings of academia. I think what is key is the timing of the roll out of exams to ensure a seamless implementation process. Part of the education process is learning where our students’ deficiencies are and creating a system of implementation that allows educators to gradually phase in standard assessments. It is imperative to recognize the deficiencies of our children, and the primary form of doing this is through mandated testing. We have a responsibility to ensure we are improving their education but we need a baseline measure to effectively do this. I am not for additional testing, but the resources we have must be utilized and implemented in a strategic fashion.
Should diversity be a factor in decisions about drawing new school attendance zone lines?
Washington: Diversity can be viewed from many different angles and I am a supporter of exposing our students to transformational education through diverse experiences. In relation to attendance zone lines, it is my assertion that zoning is tied to socio-economic and tax based jurisdictions. I believe in protecting the interests of our jurisdictions and ensuring that our institutions are reflective of the communities surrounding them.
How would you set priorities for school construction and renovation? Has the county devoted adequate resources to maintaining or replacing school buildings?
Washington: There should no longer be a debate regarding the conditions of schools who date back to the 1950s. It is now time to prioritize our inventory of schools, repair and reconstruct institutions of learning with integrity, demonstrating ethical stewardship of taxpayer’s funds in a transparent manner. We cannot produce leaders of tomorrow in schools that are outdated.