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Candidate hopes to spur other minorities to run

January 06, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

If elected to the Washington County Board of Education, William Princeton Young said his goals will include continuing efforts to increase the number of minority teachers and administrators working for the school district.

In May, Gov. Robert Ehrlich appointed Young to the board, filling the seat vacated by Doris J. Nipps, who was elected a Washington County Commissioner in November 2002.

Young, 57, is the first black member of the School Board. He agreed to serve because he thought it was time the board had a black member, he said.

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Young said he hopes he will spark other minorities to run for the School Board, he said.

As a therapist at the Washington County Mental Health Center, the Hagerstown native works with children and adolescents.

Young is one of 16 people who filed for four open seats on the School Board. A primary election will be held March 2, and eight of the candidates will advance to the general election on Nov. 2.

Young said he was alarmed at the small number of minority teachers hired this year by the school system. He said he has asked schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan to take steps to increase racial diversity, such as recruiting at predominantly black colleges.

This effort dovetails with getting the school system to work to increase the number of minority students taking advanced placement classes and going on to further their education, he said.

At his urging, district representatives will talk to families in black communities to try to increase the value minority families place on education, he said.

Minority students might have more interest in education if they encounter more minority teachers and administrators, he said.

"Students need to see people who look like themselves," he said.

Young said that through his work as a therapist, he has gained knowledge and insight into children and students that other board candidates do not have.

For example, the therapy work, as well as prior work as an assistant warden at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, have given him insight into how a child is affected by having a parent who is using drugs or imprisoned, he said.

Those are not the issues that teachers and administrators traditionally spend much time thinking about, he said.

In working to get more county and state funding for the district, Young said he would point out to county officials and state legislators that "everything in our whole society begins with education."

He said he would urge officials to look at progress in the school system, such as increased participation in advanced placement classes and a decreasing dropout rate.

If the school system can make those improvements with the existing budget, it can do more with a bigger budget, he said.

"You get what you pay for," he said. But he also said, "I understand there is a funding crisis in the entire state - I am not naive about that."

Young said he supports the push for the School for the Arts. While some students excel in athletics or academics, others find talents and strengths in the arts, he said.

Young's hobbies include fishing, reading and playing with his 41/2-year-old grandson.

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