By CAPA JRC Reporter Evelyn Shue
2020 has been, without a doubt, a tumultuous year. With the election looming, the coronavirus continues to keep people inside and calls for racial justice and equity grow louder still. These issues affect everyone, and have especially taken a toll on our youngest generation. Thus, candidates for the Board of Education’s (BOE) District 4 seat, Shebra Evans and Steve Solomon, have shared their goals and priorities so that voters will know what is on the ballot this November.
Meet the Candidates
Ms. Evans currently holds the District 4 seat and is also president of the BOE. She has two daughters in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and is running to continue her work in closing the achievement gap and more.
Mr. Solomon, a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, wants to make sure proper changes are made to the school system so that all school infrastructure is safe and modern and technical and vocational programs are expanded.
Online School and Reopening
As school continues virtually, a variety of issues including resource disparities, student engagement and student mental health have surfaced.
To ameliorate the current situation, Mr. Solomon’s biggest priority is to have schools reopen as soon as possible, especially for ESL students and students with special needs. “We’re lagging behind other counties who have a plan in place,” he said. “The Board needs to formulate a plan to reopen.” To do this, he suggests learning from other school systems that have already reopened and learning from them to set forth our own plan.
According to Ms. Evans, MCPS has begun planning for the possibility of reopening. For the time being, the BOE’s priority is to continue expanding the student wellness teams that have been implemented to make sure students are getting the help and support they need.
Asian American Community
As a current board member, Ms. Evans has had opportunities to connect with the Asian American community. “As a candidate running for school board, I’ve got the endorsement of the Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans because I'm really big on equity and inclusion,” she said. “We try to make certain that we have regular meetings with our students and I’m intentionally reaching out to Asian American students.”
Though he has not yet had direct contact with students, Mr. Solomon has interacted with Asian Americans on the campaign trail. “I’ve met several parents who are Asian American while campaigning and running,” he said.
Both candidates recognize the increase in anti-Asian sentiment since the emergence of covid-19 and agree that it should not be tolerated.
“There’s discrimination and racism in all facets of society and the county and school,” Mr. Solomon said. “I think any incidents of racism shouldn’t be tolerated and should be treated as equally as any other.”
Ms. Evans hopes to make sure that people are educated on these topics and exposed to different histories in order to eliminate implicit biases and racism. “We want to make sure that in a pandemic there is still a certain level of behavior that we do not tolerate,” she said.
Both candidates shared a little on what they believed set them apart from others.
Ms. Evans thinks that her experience as a board member and being an MCPS parent will grant her the ability and perspective to continue to carry out her vision for the county’s education system. “I have those relationships with state and local officials intact to garner the support we need for our school system,” she said. “I’m using my lens as a parent and a board member to guide me as I do this work.”
Though he does not have the same experience working on the board like Ms. Evans does, Mr. Solomon says that his sole priority is to serve his community. “I’m not tied to any group of people or special interests so I’m independent,” he said, “and I like to think that I can work with many sides of the aisle politically.”
Down ballot races may be overshadowed by the presidential election this year or more high-profile ones. However, it is still equally important for constituents to get to know the candidates running for those offices and make sure they cast informed votes, up and down the ballot.
This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.