SCHOOL BOARD races traditionally get overshadowed by contests for higher office. Clearly that is the case in Montgomery County where the spotlight is on an unexpectedly competitive race for county executive and in Prince George’s County where voters’ attention seems focused on Maryland’s race for governor. But voters in Montgomery and Prince George’s should not overlook school board races. Schools account for the biggest share of county spending, and their health is critical to the future of the two jurisdictions.
Wise choosing is especially important in Prince George’s this year. The school system has been roiled by a series of controversies, political infighting on the board and uncertainty about the future of a state law that gives some authority over the schools to the county executive. Among the challenges confronting the system will be voting on a permanent replacement for now departed chief executive Kevin M. Maxwell and rebuilding public trust in the schools.
Four seats on the hybrid board of elected and appointed members will be decided Nov. 6. Our endorsements, first published prior to the June primary that whittled down the field of candidates, go to Lupi Grady in District 2; Pamela Boozer-Strother in District 3, Carolyn M. Boston in District 6 and Sonya Williams in District 9. Ms. Grady, Ms. Boston and Ms. Williams are incumbents with solid records that ground them in the challenges facing the system. Ms. Boozer-Strother is a small-business owner and community activist who will bring a pragmatic approach to issues such as increasing parent engagement and upgrading school buildings.
In Montgomery County, four seats on the board will be decided. In District 5, Brenda Wolff is running unopposed for the seat left open by Michael A. Durso’s decision not to seek reelection. Julie Reiley, seeking the at-large seat being vacated by Jill Ortman-Fouse, and District 3 incumbent Patricia O’Neill received our endorsement in May. Ms. Reiley is a long-time education advocate with smart ideas on how the system can better tackle the achievement gap for students of color and those impacted by poverty. Ms. O’Neill is a 20-year veteran of the board with unequaled mastery of the system and its needs.
In District 1, incumbent Judith Docca is being challenged by Maria Blaeuer, director of programs and outreach at a nonprofit focusing on parent empowerment. We have long admired Ms. Docca for her advocacy for minority children and the need for education equity. Ms. Blaeuer, who also sits on the board of a charter school in the District, has thoughtful ideas about how to better help students who are at-risk. She supports incentives — such as smaller class sizes and more planning time — for the highest performing teachers to teach at the highest need schools. Voters would be well-served by whoever wins, but we give the edge to Ms. Blaeuer.
This editorial has been corrected to clarify Maria Blaeuer’s job title.