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What Do You Think?

January 20, 2008

Editor's note: Each week, The Herald-Mail invites readers to answer poll questions on its Web site, www.herald-mail.com. Readers also may submit comments about the poll question when voting. Each Sunday, a sampling of edited reader comments will run in The Herald-Mail.

There were two poll questions last week. The first question was: What issue would you like the candidates for the Washington County Board of Education to address before the Feb. 12 primary election?

"I would like to see more specifics. Supposedly, our schools are great and I am sure they are, but it would be nice if we could see concrete numbers comparing, say, last year to five years ago and 10 years ago. I would like a candidate who thinks independently and will make more facts available to the public."

"I would also like specifics and not so many vague generalities that are open to infinite levels of interpretation. On a more specific note, I'd like to see specifics addressed with how we can bring the opportunities and successes that the middle and high schools have seen to the elementary levels. It just seems like the focus has been on the middle and high schools as preparation for college and the working world. What about the foundation all of that is built upon? What can be done to strengthen that and provide those children with a well-rounded experience?"

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"An interesting question would be to explore their ability to make decisions, connected with how they will gain information for their decisions. Will they rely upon what the board staff brings to them to stamp 'yes' or 'no,' or will they ask for multiple choices and alternate ideas along with the reasoning for each? Do they have the ability to do independent research when that is necessary? I am not implying that the board has been about rubber-stamping, but am saying that it should be about more than that. It is appropriate to use the expertise of staff to do a bulk of the legwork, but a board member should be able to evaluate beyond a simple yes/no vote upon recommendation of the staff."

"I think it would be nice to have a candidate who also thinks about the costs. In the past five years, how many extra positions were created that are nonteaching positions? I hope for a candidate who also looks at the cost angle. All these brochures that get mailed to us telling us basically how great (Superintendent Elizabeth) Morgan is. I do not recall getting so many mailings before she was superintendent. Are these necessary? How do they make education better for my kids? I just would like a candidate who monitors the costs of our system. Seems like every year, more and more money gets put into education in our county and I would like to see more accountability for how our tax dollars are spent."

"I think they should be more aware of the drug problem. Not only in the schools, but in all of Washington County and the whole state of Maryland. Let's lock up all of the drug dealers and throw away the key."

"I think the importance of teen sex should be increased in high school. The rate continues to climb and girls are dropping out without options. And, if a boy who is also in high school gets a girl pregnant then why doesn't he drop out as well? Seems it is one-sided. More sex education, I feel, is important to keep these kids in school rather than being a parent at 16 or 17."

"It would be refreshing for a board candidate to express a desire to get back to basics. Self-esteem in schools should come from students actually learning and not just being told they are great. The candidate should be realistic that schools cannot be a substitute for families and society. A candidate who is seriously concerned with our school system and desire to improve it would be refreshing rather then a candidate who just uses it as a steppingstone to other offices. Another Bill Staley would be fantastic! Someone who has experience in education and is a straight talker! We need more people like that on the board!!!"

"I am wanting candidates (to state) their thoughts on sex education and options to keep kids in school rather than having them taken out. It also goes to why are the girls punished when the boys are not regarding their education. Sex is not a bad topic and should be openly discussed by candidates and in school. While schools are not a substitute for parents, the schools need a more liberal approach to teaching sex education."

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