In a conversation with The Washington Post, the Northwest High School senior spoke about his work and plans for the future.
How do you balance board obligations with school?
Along with normal classes, I take dual enrollment courses at Montgomery College, across the street from where the Board of Education meets. One of the biggest sacrifices is probably sleeping and eating. If you come home from a meeting at 11 or 12 at night, and you have homework, you only get a couple hours of sleep. It’s almost like working two or three jobs between the board work, school and college applications.
What are some of the things you’ve done so far that you’re proud of?
I’ve been working on outreach and communication. Even in the adult world, when you’re dealing with state or local politics, you face a lot of apathy in getting people to understand what you do. I started a blog called SMOB 365 and put out a picture every day of meetings I’m at, with a Facebook version and a Twitter version. I started mocostudent.org, which allows students from local school papers to contribute stories. I’ve also been working closely with empowering the youth voice and started the Montgomery County Students Coalition. This organization is pushing for coordinated efforts among the youth organizations.
What are your thoughts on efforts to make education more rigorous through Curriculum 2.0 and Common Core?
As a student, I completely agree that we shouldn’t be accelerating students the way we have been, especially in the first-, second- or third-grade levels. Part of me wishes I could start again as a first- or second-grader because I probably would be more prepared for the college and career things that I’m starting to push myself into now.
As a student member, you get to vote on everything except for the budget, labor contracts, school openings and closings, and redistricting. Do you feel you still have influence?
A few weeks ago, the superintendent [Joshua P. Starr] called me in . . . to ask me about what’s going on with the students. It’s a big responsibility. We’re still pushing for expanded voting rights, but for some of these issues I’m proud to be at the board table. I’m proud to speak my truth about the implications of the budget and these issues and what it means for students.
Any plans to pursue a political career?
I don’t know. I’m 17 now. I am very happy where I am and to speak out on behalf of my peers. I’m interested in colleges where I can study the intersection of politics, philosophy and economics — the way people think and the process behind political and economic decisions. It plays a lot to my interests and would certainly be a good knowledge base for possible careers in the public or private sector.