One of the primary factors that influenced my recent decision
to run for Montgomery County Executive is my passion for
education and my excitement at seeing some of the achievements
in the public school system resulting from changes initiated
when I served on the County Council from 1986 through 2002.
Clearly much remains to be done, and nothing would please me
more than to once again be part of the team, helping to lead a
renaissance in education for all of our children. Simply
put, education has been an essential part of my life, and it
will be the top priority in my administration.
Some of you may not know that I grew up in a poverty-stricken
environment in Louisiana. My mother worked several jobs to
provide the basic needs for my twelve brothers and sisters and
me. Early in our lives she taught us the value of hard work,
high moral and ethical standards, and the importance of
knowledge and education. My mother’s formula for success was to
embrace education as a means to better ourselves. This she did
by constantly challenging us to learn as much as possible. She
did not tolerate excuses that would deter us from achieving our
goals. Her example has had a profound impact on my life and that
of my siblings. Her teachings about the importance of education
instilled in us a constant desire to learn. Interestingly enough
and as a testament to my mother’s teaching, four of my siblings
have also pursued careers in education: one of my sisters is a
school administrator, two are teachers, and a brother works as a
supporting services employee in the school system in East Baton
Rouge Parish, Louisiana.
I have been a professor at Howard University Law School since
1975 and hold a B.A, M.A, JD, and LLM degrees. Graduating first
in my class from Howard University Law School in 1974, I held
the third highest academic average in the history of the school.
Later I served as the law school’s Assistant and Associate Dean.
In 1978 I was selected as a White House Fellow, a unique
national honor, which placed me at the highest levels of
executive leadership in our federal government.
In addition, the education communities most recently honored
me with the following:
- The Maryland States Teachers Outstanding Leadership
- Montgomery College Special Leadership Award, 2003
- The Lifetime Achievement Award from Maryland Parent
Teachers Association, 2002
Education continues to be a focal point of my life’s
work. During each of my sixteen years on the Montgomery
County Council, I was a member of the Council’s Education
Committee. I was first elected to the Council at a time when the
County faced a looming recession and the challenge of funding
and allocating resources to meet the needs of our ever-changing
community. The numbers tell an amazing story. Between 1986, when
I was first elected to the Council, and when I left in 2002, the
student population in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)
had increased by about 42,000 students.
As a member of the Education Committee and three-term
president of the Council, I was part of a dynamic partnership
dedicated to maintaining MCPS’ reputation for academic
excellence. We met this challenge despite a recession in the
early nineties, by funding researched-based initiatives that
were proven to help children. Highlighted are just a few
key examples that demonstrate what my priorities will be as your
- Provide Adequate Building Capacity to Reduce
Overcrowding. We built schools to accommodate
increases in our student population. When I was elected to
the Council in 1986, MCPS had a total of 152 schools. By the
time I left in 2002, working with my colleagues on the
Education Committee we had funded 40 new schools: 23
elementary schools, 13 middle schools, and 4 high schools.
Thanks to our work the Capital Budget had grown from an
expenditure of $23.4 million in FY 1986 to $135.5 million in
FY 2002. With this and other resources we were able to
accomplish building many additions, modernizations, and
Beyond mere bricks and mortar, these classrooms incorporated
new teachers and updated resources that continue to have a
positive effect on student academic achievement in MCPS
- Reduce Class Sizes to meet each child’s individual
learning needs. We funded smaller class sizes
because the research showed that teachers are more effective
with students in small class settings. I am especially proud
to have funded and helped sustain the multi-year early
childhood initiative that began in 1999 with $10.3 million
to reduce class size.
These funds helped reduce oversized classes across the
system to the levels of the 1994-95 school year. They helped
lower the size of classes for reading in grades 1 and 2.
They helped decrease class sizes in Grade 7 mathematics in
all middle schools, enabling students to better prepare for
Algebra 1. They trimmed the size of high school Algebra 1
classes and reduced oversized high school classes in
general. In funding these initiatives, I stood with the
School Board in actualizing its goals to ensure that every
child would be able to read independently by Grade 3 and to
increase student success in Algebra by the end of Grade 9.
- Ensure that all-day Kindergarten is in every
school. The all-day kindergarten expansion that I
helped fund in 2000 was the impetus for the current push,
now mandated by the state, for all-day kindergarten in all
schools. This 2000 initiative restored all-day kindergarten
to schools that had been cut in FY 1993 due to budget
constraints, and increased all-day kindergarten from nine to
seventeen MCPS schools.
In FY 2002 we expanded the program to 28 schools--
establishing a pattern that has brought the total today to
73 MCPS schools, well ahead of the rest of the state.
- Connect classrooms with technology to guarantee
that all children are prepared for their future. My
support for enhanced technology in schools has always been
driven by my conviction that technology has the ability to
bridge the divide in academic achievement among our
students. The growth in the technology budget for MCPS
during my tenure on the Council is an eloquent testimonial
to my ability to implement my priorities. In 1986 the
Council approved $5.6 million in funding for technology in
the Operating Budget. By FY 2002 that part of the budget had
quadrupled to $24 million.
By far our boldest technology undertaking, however, was the
Global Access Technology initiative that we started in 1995
and funded out of the Capital Budget. By FY 2002 in the
Capital budget, the six-year plan had grown to $51 million.
In addition to providing much-needed funds for teacher
training in technology, this initiative is the reason why
today’s teachers and children are able to connect to
schools, offices, and the Internet through an MCPS wide-area
While we can take pride in what has been accomplished thus
far, we cannot and must not rest. The achievement gap among our
students remains, despite promising results from many of our
program initiatives. We must continue to strengthen the school
system’s partnership with Montgomery College to ensure a
seamless continuum of educational opportunity. Access to further
education is a virtual necessity today. I will continue to be
active in my support for Montgomery College, long recognized as
one of the nation’s best community colleges for the way it meets
the County’s educational needs.
I have consistently worked in the public sector with the
strong belief that each and every child can learn. All students
need highly qualified teachers, support service personnel, and
administrators who will maintain positive and safe learning
environments while providing instruction that will prepare
students for a variety of post graduation choices. We must
continue to find and fund effective ways for our special needs
youngsters to thrive and excel in our classrooms.
As County Executive I will continue my strong support
for education consistent with my record on the County Council
and my life-passion for education. I present myself to
you as a leader with unique and unparalleled experience,
combined with the passion and vision to keep us on the path of
academic excellence for all of our children. I look forward to
hearing from you regarding your concerns and ideas about our
County’s future and specifically the challenges we face in
providing the best education system possible for our children.