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Opinion Here’s who The Post endorses for school board in Montgomery and Prince George’s

Montgomery County school bus drivers gather in the parking lot at Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring on Jan. 13. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
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Schools are still feeling the pandemic’s calamitous effects. Learning loss, teacher and staff shortages, behavioral problems, and school safety are just a few of the challenges. The people serving on school boards are more important than ever, and voters in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will decide in the Nov. 8 elections who will do so in Maryland’s two most populous school districts.

In Montgomery County, four seats — three district seats and one at-large — are on the ballot; all eligible voters can vote for each seat, regardless of where they live. For the at-large seat, the clear choice is incumbent Karla Silvestre. Not only has Ms. Silvestre proved an able leader, tested by the demands of an unprecedented pandemic, but her opponent, Mike Erickson, has been a phantom candidate, unresponsive to media inquiries and doing no noticeable campaigning. Ms. Silvestre emphasizes addressing learning loss and students’ and staff members’ mental health needs.

All of The Post's endorsements for D.C., Maryland, Virginia elections on Nov. 8

For the District 1 seat Judy Docca is vacating, we endorse Grace Rivera Oven, founder of a nonprofit that fights food insecurity in upper Montgomery County. Her deep roots in the community, including running an after-school program for high-risk youths, gives her keen insights into students’ and families’ needs. Among her priorities: closing the opportunity gap and expanding wrap-around services.

After longtime board member Patricia O’Neill died, the school board appointed Scott Joftus to her District 3 seat, and it made the right choice. As head of a company that provides technical assistance to school boards and superintendents, Mr. Joftus is uniquely qualified. His opponent, Julie Yang, has an admirable record of work in the schools and community involvement, but Mr. Joftus is best equipped to help improve student outcomes.

In District 5, we endorse incumbent Brenda Wolff in her bid for a second term. Twice elected president of the board, Ms. Wolff helped steer the schools through the pandemic’s disruptions. She has championed the use of out-of-school time to extend learning. And we admire her commitment to addressing school-system inequities.

In Prince George’s County, voters in four districts will select board members. In District 2, a seat Joshua M. Thomas is vacating, our nod goes to Jenni Pompi, the parent of two children in county schools who has worked as a community advocate for more than a decade. Ms. Pompi is tired of the petty fights and personality clashes that have marred the board in recent years and promises to stay focused on students’ needs.

In District 3, incumbent Pamela Boozer-Strother seems headed for a second term — her opponent dropped out of the race — and that would be a good thing. Ms. Boozer-Strother, thoughtful and collaborative, helped lead the system through the pandemic crisis and would provide needed stability to the board, which is being reshaped so that all its positions will be elected.

Voters in District 6 have good choices for the seat Belinda Queen is vacating in the candidacies of Ashley Kearney and Branndon D. Jackson, but we give the nod to Mr. Jackson. His compelling story about how he overcame adversity to work for a Fortune 100 company shows he understands the struggles students face. An economist, he can read a budget’s granular details, which would make him a valuable addition to the board.

For the District 9 seat, we endorse Kent Roberson. A graduate of Prince George’s schools who has three children in them now, Mr. Roberson has been active in his school community and in county politics. He would hit the ground running as the schools seek funding for their growing needs.

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Editorials represent the views of The Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the Editorial Board, based in the Opinions section and separate from the newsroom.

Members of the Editorial Board and areas of focus: Opinion Editor David Shipley; Deputy Opinion Editor Karen Tumulty; Associate Opinion Editor Stephen Stromberg (national politics and policy); Lee Hockstader (European affairs, based in Paris); David E. Hoffman (global public health); James Hohmann (domestic policy and electoral politics, including the White House, Congress and governors); Charles Lane (foreign affairs, national security, international economics); Heather Long (economics); Associate Editor Ruth Marcus; Mili Mitra (public policy solutions and audience development); Keith B. Richburg (foreign affairs); and Molly Roberts (technology and society).