Hello and welcome to "Meet the Candidates." My name is Tim Hwang and I am your current Student Member of the Board of Education. Although I can hardly believe it, my term is almost over, and the time has come to elect a new SMOB.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for electing me last year. It has truly been a gratifying experience serving you on the Board of Education and look forward to the rest of my term.
I am proud of the successes we have had thus far. In this one year, we have been able to initiate a pilot program to allow cell phones in high school lunches, start the long process of eliminating the unfair LC policy, and continue an effective environmentally friendly school system that has allowed MCPS to win numerous awards. Furthermore, with our top AP scores, #1 ranking in graduation rates, and new integrated curriculum we have been able work towards closing the achievement gap, work on several policies including a new bullying policy, and I personally have started a new communication system using new media like youtube videos, twitter, facebook, and a blog while opening up a new representative committee called SMOB 2.0.
Students can now receive email newsletters to stay informed on the Board of Education’s activities and share their opinions with MCPS by signing up at www.MCPSQuickNotes.org or joining any one of my new media outlets online. In the spirit of all of this, I have made an attempt to get MCPS more technologically savvy while still doing old fashioned school visits to most of your schools and holding county-wide town halls.
I am also in the process of getting your student representative the ability to vote on the budget so that they can be allowed to make changes to programs and budget issues from here on out and make the SMOB an equal position on the Board – a right that we have been fighting for 30 years. In the midst of all of this, I also created a taskforce to look at many of the county’s problems such as Youth Voter Registration, Crime, Gangs, Poverty, Hunger, Healthcare, Mental Health, and the Environment through the eyes of student engagement.
Finally, I, along with the rest of the Board, am continuing to lobby the County Council and the State government hard to get full funding for all of our programs and services in our budget like our buses, teachers, and other important items. Through the “Campaign For Our Future” hundreds of you throughout the county were able to come together in a grassroots campaign to fight for full funding of our education. And your elected officials are beginning to witness the power of the youth voice, as seen by the hundreds of you who packed the County Council’s Youth Town Hall.
However, much work remains to be done. We face the problem of retaining the very best teachers, closing the achievement gap, and maintaining the programs we currently have in place. The contract of the superintendent is set to expire and your next SMOB will be choosing a new superintendent who will set the direction of MCPS for the next several years, and overcrowding continues to plague many of our schools. In the current economic state our country is in, all of these goals and ideas will continue to become more difficult. With Federal Stimulus funding running out next year and the budget gap at the county and state increasing at over $700 Million in the County and $2 Billion in the state this year alone, now more than ever you need a SMOB who will fight for the programs you believe in. The next SMOB will have to confront these and other challenges during the next school year.
Every January all sophomores and juniors across Montgomery County have the opportunity to apply for the position of Student Member of the Board of Education. In March, a nominating convention is held where delegates from every middle and high school across the county listen to speeches and responses from all the candidates and then vote to narrow the field of candidates to the final two.
On Wednesday, April 28th, you will have the opportunity to voice your opinion and vote for one of the final two candidates for SMOB. This person will represent you on the Board of Education for the upcoming school year. The school board member you pick will help make important decisions affecting not just your own education, but public schools throughout Montgomery County. Before you vote, please watch the rest of this video, and read the voter's guide that is provided for all students. The voter's guide gives important information about each candidate's background and where he stands on issues that affect you. To give all students a chance to review this information, the Guide is available not only in English, but also in Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
In a few moments, you will meet the candidates and have an opportunity to listen to their answers as they address questions posed to them by several of your fellow students. Then, on Wednesday, April 28th, it will be your right and responsibility (and yes, that includes you, seniors) to vote for the candidate you think will most successfully represent you and the students of Montgomery County. Thank you and good luck.