Valerie Ervin Age: 47

Residence: Silver Spring.

Education: BA, labor studies, National Labor College; MA, public administration, University of Baltimore.

Occupation: Chief of staff for Montgomery County Council member George L. Leventhal.

Elected offices/civic activities: Past president, Montgomery Blair High School PTA; parent representative, NAACP Parents Council; co-chairman, Montgomery County Education Forum; member, Blacks United for Excellence in Education.

What do you think is the most urgent problem facing your jurisdiction?

"Montgomery County schools are among the nation's best, but we face a critical problem: a widening achievement gap between African American and Latino students, and their white and Asian American counterparts. I want to try new approaches to make sure every student is in a classroom with a challenging curriculum and high expectations, both of which foster a love of learning. To reach these goals we need to attract, keep and motivate the very best teachers and staff, making sure they have the tools they need to help every child excel."

Why should voters elect you?

"As PTSA co-president and County Council staffer, I built relationships with county and school officials and will use my experience to advocate for all children."

Web site:

www.valerie4boe.org

E-mail address:

valerie4boe@hotmail.com

Sheldon Fishman

Age: 57

Residence: Silver Spring.

Education: BS and MS, mechanical engineering, Tufts University; MS, biostatistics, Harvard University.

Occupation: Computer engineer; instructor, Johns Hopkins University.

Elected offices/civic activities: Former Maryland PTA Family of the Year; former vice president for administration, Montgomery County Council of PTAs; member, Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board; former co-chairman, Global Access and Finance Budget Committee, MCPS; former area vice president, MCCPTA; former Blair High School delegate, MCCPTA; former Einstein Cluster coordinator, MCCPTA; former president, Oakland Terrace Elementary School PTA; treasurer, District 18 Democratic Caucus; vice chairman, Democratic Precinct 13-24; former Cub Scout leader.

What do you think is the most urgent problem facing your jurisdiction?

"Our challenge is to ensure that all the students in this diverse system achieve their full potential and leave with the tools they need in the global economy. Our job is to open doors by expanding options, monitoring and promptly reporting the progress of all students, tailoring instruction to individual needs and making sure that tax dollars are spent on policies that work -- not to close doors by eliminating gifted and talented programs and instituting one-size-fits-all classrooms. Our vision of continuous improvement must be driven by the highest aspirations of the community, not simply by standardized test scores."

Why should voters elect you?

"Countless citizens will attest to my know-how, independence and commitment to outcomes, all keys to responsive oversight of our often rigid and adversarial school bureaucracy."

Web site:

www.sheldonfishman.com

E-mail address:

fishmans@radix.net