Blair G. Ewing, an incumbent candidate for the Montgomery County Board of Education, aims not only to be reelected Nov. 4, but to bring about the victories of two others and change the board majority. "I'd like to see the composition of the board changed so that I end up with people I am comfortable working with," said Ewing, who is campaigning with Marilyn J. Praisner and Sandra M. King Shaw against Marian L. Greenblatt, Suzanne K. Peyser and Michael F. Goodman.
Three of the board's seven seats are up for election this year in the non-partisan, at-large school board race. Ewing and Greenblatt are seeking reelection; board president Daryl W. Shaw is not. The terms of John R. Barse, Elizabeth W. Spencer, Carol F. Wallace and Eleanor D. Zappone run through 1982.
After school board elections two years ago, the board split 4-3 on most decisions, with Greenblatt, Barse, Wallace and Zappone frequently voting against Ewing, Spencer and Shaw. Some call it a conservative-liberal split, although the members call themselves traditional and moderate.
Ewing, a 46-year-old federal government employe and Silver Spring resident since 1968 who likes to describe his job as "improving the government's productivity," disclaims a "liberal" label and calls himself a "realist" and "cautious moderate."
He said a "realist" is someone who tries to understand how people act and then tries to "achieve reasonable goals with a framework of human behavior that is not always rational."
On a board of education, that means making trade-offs in the way resources are allocated. Ewing said he does not believe the board of the last two years has made the right trade-offs.
"This board's philosophy is that all children are alike and if they're not, to make them alike. This board is moving us in the direction of mediocrity," said Ewing.
Ewing said he would propose that the board reinstitute the seven-period day and do away with countywide exams, both part of a high school policy and panel passed last January.
He said there should be more all-day kindergartens -- there are now only a handful -- and that schools should be encouraged to teach fundamental values.
"It must be clear to parents that children who disrupt the classroom would be out of school. I would be hard-nosed about doing that quickly. It's hard in Montgomery County. Many parents don't believe their children ought to be disciplined in public school.
"The board must make it clear that it will back those teachers. It's a matter of communicating intent," he said.
Ewing said he would also ask the board to do away with the "multiethnic convention," a one-day seesion on understanding ethnic groups that the board made mandatory for new teachers two years ago. Ewing said the convention has cost taxpayers $1 million in the last two years.
"I believe that money could be used for early childhood development," he said.
Ewing said he doesn't believe that the board should make a course on black culture mandatory, as it was two years ago.
"It introduces knowledge, which is good, but it doesn't change attitudes. We should look around for another approach and if we can't find one, we should say that we don't know how to do this."
As for the budget, Ewing said, "the board's job is to be an advocate of the best education for children. I've been less anxious for us to worry about the sum total of dollars."
The 181-school, 98,000-student system's budget for fiscal year 1981 that began July 1 is $309.1 million. One of the first jobs of the new board, scheduled to convene Dec. 1, will be to discuss what rising costs and declining enrollement will mean for the fiscal 1982 budget.
Ewing, who has a sone in Takoma Park Junior High school and one at the University of Maryland, said it is more difficult to get public understanding and support now that the number of people in the county who do not have school-age children is greater than those who do. But he said it is a challenge to make a case for the necessity of good education.
Ewing said he is always looking for opportunities for savings. "I found that the school system had been using premium gas in the buses and I wrote to bus manufacturers and to school systems in the North. Everyone said they used regular gas. That saved us $50,000 the first year we switched."
Ewing, who is assistant director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, uses about a week of his vacationtime each year to attend daytime board meetings. He's an avid, if not always successful, politician, having lost a race for Congress in 1966 in the Binghamton, N.Y., area and a race for a Montgomery school board seat in 1974. Ewing then won a four-year term on the board in 1976.
Now he's hard on the campaign trail again, attending forums and meetings nightly, traveling to shopping centers and supermarkets on the weekends. His slate's campaign headquarters, located in the Rockville Commons, is getting ready for the final days before election, when they will take literature to "virtually every house in the county," Ewing said. They've raised about $6,000 so far and aim for $25,000 to cover their printing costs.
A number of special-interest groups, such as groups representing the handicapped, committees to keep schools open and members of the Gifted and Talented Association, give him support.
Ewing said he does not believe he is trading favors for votes but that "we have to open ourselves to a whole range of views and reach a reasonable accommodation.
"We are not without notions or principles, but we were elected to serve the entire county, which is diverse in its opinions and population.
"Our job is to listen, accommodate and ensure that, as much as possible, people have options," he said, "that they can choose between schools that emphasize language and schools that emphasize science, for example, or between schools that have innovative curriculums and ones that have traditional ones."