Board Member Report

Board Member Report (2020-12-07)

Revised for publication.

First I want to congratulate our returned board members, Ms. Mallo and Ms. Delmont-Small and newly elected board members: Dr. Lu, Ms. Mosley and Ms. Watts. I often make mistakes using he or she. So please forgive me if I make similar mistakes in the future.

The world has been different and might never be the same for many reasons due to the pandemic as well as the election. We are facing un’precedented challenges to provide a quality and safe learning environment for our students. 

There have been some discussions on our new board leadership and some of them were difficult conversations. The conversation keeps evolving. We have a diverse and capable board. Listening empathetically and working respectfully across diversity and social differences  to reach a solution is not easy, in many ways. 

I truly appreciate the opportunity to serve as the board chair. It is both an honor and huge responsibility. 

Let’s reset and start anew.  We are all here to serve the public. Let’s work together to have a board that will have the priority to serve the students and families in Howard County.

For the board functionality and board member relationship, I want to share some suggestions for an effective board I learnt while serving on Columbia Association board as following: 

  1. Don’t make random or wild assumptions or accusations of other board members. 
  2. Speak kindly and don’t speak ill. Don’t embarrass, belittle or humiliate other board members deliberately. 
  3. Respect other board members’ opinions and votes.  There will be different opinions and votes from time to time.  Let’s try not to take it personally. 
  4. Respect other people’s time. We have to run the board efficiently while giving every board member enough time to share his/her opinion. 

For me, as a board chair, I believe in the collective ingenuity of the board and passionate service of each board member.  I will serve in a coordinator role and encourage every board member to take different initiatives and leadership roles. I believe each board member is an equal part of the board and should work together in that spirit. Each board member should have the opportunity to serve as chair or vice chair if he/she wants to serve in those roles and have the support specified in the approval procedure during their four year terms. 

Another spirit is to have enough discussions before we make motions. Let’s separate our board discussion into two parts: having discussion first, then talking about making motions.

Let’s continue our journey to provide quality education for all of our students. We are facing many challenges. Covid-19 pushed us to adapt the virtual learning model, which has presented many challenges for our students,including but not limited to students of special education, students of foreign language learners, students who need face-to-face instructions, students who have internet connection issues, etc. As the vaccine will soon become available to the general public, I believe our society including our  school system will be able to fully reopen gradually. We need to create a plan to prepare for that moment. I believe we need to provide extra education opportunities through innovation, partnership and other out-of-box solutions for our students during this transition time, next summer and beyond.  

Let’s discuss all potential ideas, put them on the table, examine them carefully and find options that are pragmatic, efficient and effective to serve our students. 

We are in this together. We have always been. Let’s work together and go through this turbulent time together. We can and we will prevail.

Thanks you.

Board Member Report 2020-9-10

Board Member Report 2020-9-10

Modified for publication.

This is the first board meeting since our full virtual education started. We have mixed feelings about it, doubt, uncertainty, disappointment and excitement. As a parent myself, I totally understand some frustrations from parents and also appreciate what has been done given the constraints. 

First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our students and parents, our teachers and staff,  and our community to take a fresh start for the new semester. September 10 was Teacher’s Day when I grew up in China. I always appreciate so much help I received from my teachers when I grew up. Students, parents, the community and the system showed gratitude to our teachers. 

It is especially difficult for our young learners, kindergarteners, first graders, students with special needs and high school seniors, students who are transitioning from one school to another. However, we are keeping to change, improve and adapt our work to help all students. 

Our school system keeps exploring ideas of bringing a small group of students into the classroom settings and provides much needed service for them, especially for students with special needs. The situation is unprecedented and we are working slowly but steadily on this. We must put safety as our highest priority. We are crossing the river while feeling the pebbles in the water. 

Second, I would like our staff taking the community inputs and feedback, reflecting on what we learn during this process, and thinking about our second semester ASAP. What is the criteria we can aim to reopen school safely, smoothly and gradually? 

Third, I know some of our parents’ confidence in our school system has eroded during our struggle to offer education services for our students while dealing with covid-19. We saw 300 less enrollment in kindergarten, more than 2200 withdrawals from our school system. How to regain parents’ confidence will be a challenge for us. 

Finally, we are entering Phase III recovery for the state and the county. However, we still need to keep vigilant until the covid-19 is under total control. Please keep wearing a mask and keep social distancing. The quicker we can keep the numbers down and covid-19 under control, the faster we can get back to the normal life. We are almost there.

Thank you.

Board Member Report on 2020-07-09

BOE board member report on 2020-07-09

Revised for publication

Welcome Mr. Koung to serve on the board. It is a tough job this year with so much unknowns. We look forward to working with you.

School Reopen Effort

School reopen will be tonight’s main focus. I believe the health of our students, teachers and staff are the highest priority. Whatever approach the school is taking, we will keep that in mind. Then how to implement a workable solution will involve all stakeholders. For example, we had a survey to understand our students/parents, teachers’ concern and need. 

At the same time, until we have a solid data to know how many teachers are committed to come back to the classroom, we are not able to make any sound decision for the fall easily. 

For some schools, maybe there are 10% teachers who want to come back to teach. For some subjects, maybe all the teachers want to teach online. So we need the solid data, not the survey data to make a sound decision. Our decision should be flexible and workable.

We need to work hard to give parents, students and teachers different options to suit their individual situation and need. If possible, they can choose online or classroom instruction. We need to put more efforts and priority into students who need more resources, for example, students with special needs, and students lagging behind already. 

Thanks for community members for your input. We know every one care about this schedule. Prof. Meagan Fitzpatrick from University of Maryland helped me to understand the various disease spreading modeling, which is very informative and useful.

Again, I want to emphasize the importance of our online teaching curriculum. I want our school to use this opportunity and develop a flexible/robust online curriculum and integrate them into the classroom curriculum for our future.

Equity, Inclusiveness, diversity and respect

Tonight we are going to talk about equity policy too. Equity, inclusiveness, diversity and respect are all working together. These objectives are mutually supportive and inclusive and we should work in such a manner. Also we need to take historical background and cultural sensitivity into consideration. We have a long way to go. During this process, I believe we should take a positive and affirmative approach to overcome any challenges, address each problem one by one, unite the majority of our people and embrace a better future. 


Finally, I appreciate the feedback from Jewish Federation of Howard County and I am sorry for the omission.  

I ask the board to reconsider my motion I made during last board meeting and amend it as following:

Move the Howard County Board of Education denounce any bias and racism towards African American, Asian American, Latino American, Muslim American, LGBTQ+ community, the Jewish community and any other groups who have been ignored, marginalized, discriminated against and/or oppressed and allocate resources in accordance with these values as a school system and a Board.

Note: the original motion and this motion passed unanimously.

Board Member Report 2020-05-14

Board Member Report

2020-05-14, Thursday

Revised for publication.

First, I want to thank Ms. Min Woo, Specialist and Mr. James Lemon, Executive Director of Community, Parent and School Outreach for hosting the Well-Being in the Asian Community seminar. I dialed-in and listened for a while. I just missed Dr. Martirano’s excellent speech. It was a great seminar for the community. 

We have been hearing more feedback from our parents, students and teachers.  For students with special needs or resource limited families, please keep reaching out to school and discuss your children’s needs and how the school can help to meet their needs. 

For High School seniors, we care about their graduation, one of the most important ceremonies before their grown-up life. 

For High School juniors, they worry about their senior year experience and graduation next year. Please notice that everything will be a little different and take some time to self-reflect, manage your course-load and re-prioritize your curriculum. 

At the elementary school level, we are keeping revising our distant learning practice. I believe the school can do a little more than we are having now. For example, 

  1. Having more, short virtual meetings with teachers and peer students online. Building a connected classroom with our teacher and classmates of younger ones will also help our students’ psychosocial well-beings. It does not need to be long and well-scripted. Even a fireside chat with our teachers, a joke around with their peer classmates will be very helpful. 
  2. Providing a curriculum less intense, more engaged and more organized. Building and keeping a good routine for our young students will help them in the long run. Helping them to learn to be self-disciplined and being resilient, being independent from a daily, not so rigid agenda will help our students. 
  3. If a teacher wants to engage more with their classroom and students, we should encourage that engagement. Sure, we don’t want to  overburden our teachers. 

When we look back in the future, we may realize it is NOT what the academic knowledge our children learn, but the way we deal with this unprecedented crisis. Our children will learn flexibility, adaptability, accountability, discipline, compassion, and resilience. These great traits will benefit them all the way in the future.

Another topic I would like to highlight: we need to use this opportunity and time to prepare on how to integrate distance learning into our curriculum, especially if we are not sure how/when we will come back in the fall. If we are not able to get this right, those less-fortunate students will be impacted more disproportionally.

I truly appreciate our superintendent, teacher and staff’s dedicated effort during this time.

Thank you.