Why I Am Running for Board of Education to Represent District 6

On October 14, 2020, the Capital ran the following commentary, in which I explain why I am running to represent District 6 on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education.

 

My life’s passion has been education, first for myself and then others spanning 20 years. As a young child, I attended public schools in foreign countries, including Hong Kong, Nigeria, and Cameroon, as a result of my father’s job assignments.

 

Upon high school graduation in Pennsylvania, I earned a B.A. degree from Wellesley College, a Master’s from St. John’s College in Annapolis, and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University. I’ve lived in Annapolis since 1999.

 

In pursuing education excellence for others, I gained broad knowledge of different educational systems and extensive experience in management and oversight. I taught at Georgetown University and St. John’s College. I currently chair teams that evaluate public charter programs around the country and conduct leadership programs for the Aspen Institute, a global non-profit that develops leaders and provides a nonpartisan forum for reaching solutions on vital public policy issues. I also chaired the board of a local private school.

 

I’m often asked what it means to me to run as a candidate in a non-partisan race. My answer is that it means that I am running to represent all the families, students, teachers and constituents in this district. That is what I pledge to do.

 

If elected to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education, I will be a loud voice for District 6 and an active board collaborator to hold the superintendent and his staff accountable. This is no time for on-the-job training. Being elected amid education uncertainty and budget tightening means hitting the ground running.

 

Effective school systems lead with trust. Without trust, education suffers. As mother to an Annapolis High School graduate and former vice president of the Parent Teacher Student Association there, I know the daily challenges of teachers, students and families. I’ve witnessed the agony of students who lose their best teachers and the frustration of teachers who have classes too large and lack resources. I’ve heard heart-wrenching stories of parents who cannot easily communicate with the schools to address their children’s needs. I’m saddened by frequent hate and bias incidents that plague our schools.

 

l find the gross inefficiencies and overall waste in the AACPS appalling as evidenced by a recent independent evaluation of its transportation system. Moreover, I remain horrified by the unanswered death of a child at Central Special School.
 

The coronavirus makes it even more critical that we attract and retain the best teachers. We must align their pay with that of teachers in surrounding counties. Teachers need greater autonomy for thoughtful and imaginative instruction — take curriculum development out of the hands of administrators and put it back into the hands of the teachers who know best. New teachers to AACPS need experienced mentors to support them. Experienced teachers need career ladders that allow them to remain in the classroom rather than moving to administrative positions for advancement.

 

The virus brought economic stresses and physical and emotional insecurity to many of our students and families. Before the pandemic, counselors and social workers were in short supply. We need sufficient numbers of these staff members, especially now.

 

Classes must be smaller so teachers and students can develop relationships that lead to improved academic outcomes. And we cannot let up the pressure to fully and consistently address bullying, hate, and bias incidents, upgrade transportation, and institute healthy school start times.

 

If elected I pledge to help make the board more efficient and hold the superintendent and his staff accountable for best practices that improve the lives of teachers, students, and families. Especially in tough economic times, we must better support our teachers, cherish our children, and respect their parents. I will bring all my experience, skills, and passion to this great challenge if elected to the BOE.

©2020 by Friends of Joanna Bache Tobin.  Authorized by Friends of Joanna Bache Tobin - Susan Levine, Treasurer