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. 

Motion:

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.

2020-6-25 Board Member Report

2020-6-25 Board Member Report

Revised for publication.

First I would like to thanks our student board member Allison Alston, who has demonstrated a strong leadership. When I saw her performance at Reservoir High School’s Black History Month, I was really surprised and admired. You are a super star. We will miss you.

Today, I will talk about something different. The nation is watching the hardship, struggle and pain the African American community are experiencing. As a community member and a school board member, I share the same pain and the same concern:  Where are we going? How can we get to  the point where injustice will go away? When will everyone have the same opportunity to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential?

Two recent events highlighted here:

  1. I read the petition from more than 400 HCPSS high school students shared with the board. A 2015 Glenelg High School graduate is leading the campaign. Glenelg High School unfortunately had been on the newspaper front page for several racist incidents. Just reading the petition, for example:
    1. Some students called black students “N word” and there were no consequences. 
    2. Some teachers could not remember Asian American Students’ names or faces in a small classroom for half the semester. Some of our staff could not pronounce students’ family names.
    3. Some staff or teachers discouraged African American students or Latino American students from entering  into AP classes. 
  2. Many community members called me regarding a recent social media post from an HCPSS administrator. They feel the post was insensitive and offensive. They  believe our officials  should have been more thoughtful and responsible when they express their opinions  publicly, which includes clicking the “like” button on social media platforms. 

All these events made me think: What can we do to eliminate explicit and implicit biases, microaggression, discrimination and oppression? How can we systematically implement the necessary actions steps?

The questions are tough to answer as we are naturally inclined  to find a fast and easy way out, yet unsuccessfully so. The inconvenient truth is, only when we are able to face the reality truthfully and do self-reflecting and soul-searching, we are able to move forward. We can aim big, however, we should act small, starting with incremental steps for which we have the ability to execute as well as to examine the outcomes each step along the way. 

I agree that HCPSS should include more anti-bias training to help our workforce to better connect with the students and families. These connections will create stronger motivations for our students to work hard and also provide more opportunities for them to excel. We also need to increase culture proficiency training.When we do so, we need to ensure that everyone is included. No individuals or groups should feel being ignored, marginalized, discriminated against and/or oppressed.

I agree that HCPSS should work hard to reduce bias during the hiring process to increase workforce diversity and leadership diversity. When we do so, we need to ensure that everyone is included. No individuals or groups should feel being ignored, marginalized, discriminated against and/or oppressed.

I agree that HCPSS should include a more diverse curriculum to help our students expand their learning horizon which will promote better cross-group, cross-culture understanding and respect. When we do so, we need to ensure that everyone is included. No individuals or groups should feel being ignored, marginalized, discriminated against and/or oppressed.

I want to make a motion: 

Motion:

The Howard County Board of Education denounces any bias and racism towards African American, Asian American, Latino American, Muslim American, LGBT community,  and any other groups who have been ignored, marginalized, discriminated against and/or oppressed. 

2020 HCPSS Graduation Speech

2020 HCPSS Graduation Speech

I am Dr. Chao Wu from Board of Education. It is a great honor to have this opportunity to congratulate you, our high school seniors, graduating at  this un’’precedented time in our history. Many years later when we look back together, we will be proud of ourselves exemplying resilience and compassion, at this moment. 

Last year, I talked about embracing changes in my graduation speech. This year, we have been confronted with a change, an un’’precedented change. We are in a lockdown. We are having a virtual graduation celebration. We have a new norm. We are recovering slowly, yet steadily. 

There is a great proverb: what hits us and does not strike us down will make us stronger. Many of us witnessed the 2008 great recession because of the financial crisis. We survived and thrived. Now, we are experiencing a global pandemic. The pandemic will not deter us; instead, we will, yet again, define our own path with determination! (raise hand)

There will be many unknowns, especially in the short time horizon. There will be challenges, visible and invisible. We must, we will, and we can, prepare ourselves with knowledge, passion and compassion. 

I am grateful and hopeful that HCPSS has taught you those skills, to prepare for your future, a bright future. Along the road, you will continue to have friends, families and community to support you. Please always be hopeful and thankful.  

Your future is our nation’s future.

At this time, please join me in honoring the Class of 2020 as we now recognize each of our graduates.

Board Member Report 2020-05-28

2020-5-28 Board Member Report

Revised for publication.

We are almost at the end of our semester. We are experiencing a turbulence and we are facing uncertainty for the fall. 

It is important for the school system to keep examining our distance delivery model and listening to our teachers, students and parents.  Our students’ well-being and academic growth are both in the center of our daily operation. We should be able to conduct a survey before the school closes for the summer. 

Many questions can be asked, for example: 

  1. How do you feel during this time?
  2. Do you have a preference for synchronous (live-streaming) or asynchronous (pre-recorded) class formats?
  3. What is the best/worst part of distance learning? Where do you want to see improvements and changes? 
  4. If we could make one change or do one thing to help you with right now, what would it be? 
  5. For students in special education, ESOL, GT, etc, what do you want to change for the distant learning model?
  6. Do we have enough support for our high risk students and families?
  7. Which kind of interactions do you like with your teacher?

There are many more questions. It will take lots of effort to design an effective and actionable survey.

There are many unknowns. It is important to explore different possibilities , plan for the fall by conducting surveys and learning from the students and teachers. We should always pursue innovation in our teaching methodology and delivery. 

I know many families are exhausted and anxious to know what is next. Frankly we don’t know the full picture until we get over this pandemic. However, I strongly believe that we will be able to overcome this short period of difficulty. Our community is gradually open again and comes back to normal soon. We will stay strong and safely.

Thank you. 

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. 

My board member report on 2020-4-16

Revised for publication on 2020-04-16

We are entering a new phase of our education. We finally started our distance learning for high school students. I am glad to  hear many positive feedback from our parents. Middle school and elementary school will start next week. I wish this will give our students and families some relief, engagement, feelings of belongings and education. We are all together. 

I wish parents and students keep sharing their feedback with our school system such that the school system is tracking what the school system is doing, and keep improving the methodology, delivery approach and community communication.  In the current situation, I am especially worried about our delivery model for kids with special needs, younger kids having few parents’ involvement, kids who are already struggling or lagging on their subject. 

We probably will not go back to school for this semester. High School seniors will probably graduate without a prom or a graduation ceremony. Other students transition to a new middle school or a new high school even do not have a chance to say goodbye to their friend. I wish the school, community and parents are keeping a close eye on their children’s mental health. More video games, more screen times and less physical activity time for several months are very challenging for every student in this pandemic era.  

We need to be really careful on our spending. We will receive our 2021 operating budget in five days from the county executive. In Scott E’s blog, according to Dr. Holly Sun, Howard County’s Budget Director, Howard County is estimating a revenue loss of over $35 million in the current fiscal year, with major losses in income tax, recordation, and hotel tax. A significant revenue impact is also anticipated for FY 2021. These revenue losses don’t qualify for any known federal aid, which usually only covers expenses related to emergencies.

Here I am asking our school, pause any non-urgent spending until we hear from the county executive on the 2021 operating budget. 

As a board and a school system, we need to prepare for a difficult time ahead of us. We need to scrutinize any spending and probably think about a hybrid education delivery mode in the future, to incorporate distance learning as another education tool. 

Thanks.

My board member report on 2020-03-26

My Board Member report for today’s virtual board meeting

(revised for publication here):

This is a difficult moment which we have never faced before. Everyone is putting their effort to mitigate the current difficult situation. We don’t even know when this coronavirus emergency will end. My school visits have been on hold for two weeks now. I appreciate that the board receives daily update from the superintendent and his staff.

The plan presented by the superintendent last night was the school’s first step. It is not perfect. I am hoping we will be able to work together to improve this plan and make sure our students are taken care of and everyone in the community stays safe.

I am looking forward to a simple, limited structured instruction plan for our students before we have a fully developed plan. We can not wait for another four weeks. We can have a relatively structured curriculum and routine for students every day of the week, one for the morning and one for the afternoon, with much longer recess time and lunch time. This will be very helpful for many students and parents. Our students love our teachers and they want to hear from their teachers.

I don’t expect the online education will be the same as classroom education. We will not be able to serve every student as usual during this difficult time in our nation. We are not able even to offer PE class now.

So we need adapt to the new situation quickly. There will be up/downs during the process, as long as we can implement, correct and improve. This is also an opportunity to develop our future education model, incorporating online teaching and classroom teaching.

For the current plan, I am very concerned about the 25 thousands ES students who need to wait to the end of the second closure period. I am also concerned about the HS seniors facing graduation, special education kids needing intervention programs, kids from low income families getting the necessary help.

Let’s stay calm and work together through this difficult time. Stay safe. Thanks.

Closing Remark for 2019-2020 HCPSS redistricting

Closing remarks for 2019 redistricting

Revised a little bit.

This redistricting process has been a soul-searching process for me, both as an individual citizen who has children in our school system and as a board member who is making decisions that have impact on thousands of students and their families.  I never anticipated it would happen in such a dramatic fashion. When I was elected last year, I was eager to serve on the board and my goal was to improve education for Howard County, a place where I call home. When the board voted unanimously early this year to direct the superintendent to begin a comprehensive school redistricting process, I expected the redistricting to solve the most pressing issue of overcrowding in our schools and be as less disruptive as possible to the families.

Instead, we made a crisis by placing balancing FARM rate as the highest priority for this redistricting. As a first-generation immigrant and a student from poverty, and an ESOL student myself, I fully support diversity, inclusion and equity. However, equity cannot be achieved by simply balancing FARM rates. We need find the right and good balance among capacity, community and improving socioeconomic situation. In some schools we improved socioeconomic balance. In some schools, we created small feeds. In some schools, we created longer commute. Sure, we reduced overcrowding in many schools.

Early this year, we struggled to balance the fiscal year 2020 budget, and we had to cut many teaching positions. We have delayed the much needed Talbott Springs ES replacement and Hammond HS addition and expansion. We are now facing an even bigger budget crisis for fiscal 2021 starting with a $60 million shortage. This massive redistricting process with additional transportation cost in all likelihood will make the situation even worse.

Many families chose to live in Howard County for its diverse and inclusive environment and for our great public school system. Throughout the process, I read all of the emails, and replied to most of the emails that directly addressed to  me before last week.  I also met and talked to many community members. My notes filled 2 large notebooks. The key message from the community has been: Don’t move my kids. We love our community school. As elected BOE members, we are obligated to listen to our constituents and try to provide the stability that they ask from us. The principle should be Do no harm. Our goal should be to support ALL students in our school system.

Through this entire process, almost in each work session, I have kept asking our board members: what is our objective and goal for this redistricting? What is the threshold for capacity utilization at each school? Unfortunately, we have never came up with a consensus among board members. We started the massive process without a clear goal.  We were rushed by the timeline and eager to get to the finish line, which many people felt not justified and unfair, especially to those affected late in the process. Those communities were not afforded fair opportunity to participate in the public hearing sessions. Some schools were disproportionately impacted by this redistricting plan. For example, Altholton, Oakland, Waterloo, and many more schools have undergone a drastic change and some small feeds were also created, which is not consistent with the policy.

The cascading impact ran through like a tornado and many schools were impacted during this comprehensive redistricting. Under a tornado, everyone gets hurt.

To my fellow board members, they each brought their own perspectives to the process. Ms. Cutroneo has been raising many issues and listed all new developments in each polygon. Ms. Mallo had worked tirelessly with maps all over her house. Her focus on Columbia is undeniable. Ms. Coombs has been providing many useful inputs in Columbia and other areas. Ms. Ellis has been keeping the meeting in order. Ms. Demont-Small’s full feeder system attracted many attention. Ms. Taj was the FARM rate checker during the process. Thank you all for your hard work!

For myself, I want to be the voice which advocates evidence-based solution and keep our students in the center of decision making and have a long-term plan.  I am advocating for better process, better criteria and better priority for all students. In many cases, I am the lonely voice, but I will keep advocating. Some of my work throughout the process included

  1. I created a website for polygon search to facilitate the board discussion, developed a Python software to do polygon movement, capacity calculation and feeder analysis. 
  2. In order to minimize student movements, I also developed an alternative plan which dramatically reduced student movement. This alternative plan helped the board to think about other solutions which is less disruptive than the superintendent’s plan.

I believe wholeheartedly that students and parents love their community schools. The sense of belongings to their school is an integral part of their growth. We have a very diverse student body in every aspect. This is a free country and people make their own choices on where to live. The housing pattern which caused the affordable housing singular distribution across the county cannot realistically be addressed by the school board. We will simply not be able to redistrict our overcrowded schools in the near future, especially in elementary schools and middle schools. The average elementary and middle school capacity will reach 110% soon. If High School 13 opens on time, that will bring some relief to the high school level. However, I don’t see a new elementary or middle school within 10 years. We need to face this reality.

Moving forward, I have the following recommendations to the board:

  1. We need to revise Policy 6010. Set the capacity range a little wider to 90%-120%. This will allow more stability in each school. Our policy should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and evidence-based. There are conflicting criteria in policy 6010 and we could not meet them all simultaneously. So we need to prioritize the standards and put a weight on each criteria. Some criteria will have a higher weight and others will have a lower weight. However, we should not change the weight randomly based on board members’ preference during the process or after the weight is set.
  2. We need to revise the charter of Area Attendance Committee. Community inputs are critical to the decision making. The AAC committee should reflect the diversity of the community, for example, perhaps each high school should have a representative in the committee. As you all know, the 2019 AAC created much controversy.
  3. We need to improve the software, tools and capacity to the professional level in this process. We are lagging behind in technology. Polygon reassignment, projecting student at polygon level, real-time data visualization, even transportation cost associated with the polygon moves should be readily available in real time. I am asking to set up a technology advisory committee for the school system or BOE.
  4. We need to find better ways to inform the community. Many families were affected late in the process and did not have the fair opportunity to participate in public hearing. We should make the process fair and transparent to every family in the school system.
  5. New large development polygons should be assigned to nearby schools which have capacity before students move in. Milk producer , polygon 2010 is such an example.

Let’s continue to work together and bring the community together and serve all students.

Thank you.

Speech at Achieve Success Together

Work Hard and Achieve Success Together 

Friday, 2019-10-25

First, I would like to thank Jean Xu’s invitation and congratulate the Chinese American Parent Association of Howard County on their great success in initiating and running the AST program. Thanks for Mr. James Lemon from the school system on behalf of superintendent Martirano and Ms. Angela Cabellon from the county government on behalf of Dr. Ball.

We are one community, each with different strengths. By collaborating and helping each other, we are creating a win-win situation. By tutoring students from low-income families or ESOL students, we are nurturing the spirit of helping each other, thus benefiting all in the community. 

My early life before college

While preparing the speech, I have been reflecting my life before college since some of you in this Achieve Success Together program have similar backgrounds as me while I was at your age.

Some time ago, while joking around with other board members who was more miserable when we were young, I won easily. I never had any new clothes until high school. Our family raised a pig for a year but had to sell the meat in exchange for cash to pay other debts every year.

I needed to walk at least half an hour to my elementary school no matter what the weather was like,  in the rain, in the snow. If I wanted to choose a shortcut, I needed to walk through a cemetery, which was very scary for  me when I was young. Until the middle school, I never took a bus or a car, even a bike. That’s probably the reason I always get motion-sickness whenever I take a long distance bus ride. 

However, I never felt I was poor because I took every opportunity to learn and barely paid attention to other material stuff. My world was not about the materials around me, but the knowledge inside me. I was borrowing books from everywhere, reading extensively at every topic, working on math problems, building relationships with my teachers and having some great friends who had similar aspiration as myself. We were poor but every friend wanted to improve ourselves, to be better than our parents’ generation. I even had a dream to become a poet before high school. 

In retrospect, this kind of attitude was shielding myself away from the extreme poverty I was facing at that time. And there is also a community culture that I need to work really hard to change my life, Otherwise, I had to work on the farm field, like a child labor, which always scared me. 

I was almost pulled out from middle school because my father felt he would not be able to pay my high school tuition, which was less than 20 dollars. I was almost sent to work as a carpenter to earn some money for my family. With some help from my relatives, I was able to go to high school, and eventually became the first in my family to go to college.

Moving up and moving forward

Nothing is more important than our self-determination. I had some classmates whose families were richer at that time. For some rich kids, they did not have that urgency and struggle. I was determined to study hard and change my life. 

If I didn’t have the will to help myself, nobody can help me. God helps those who help themselves. Along the way, I took every opportunity in front of me. There are many great-hearted people who would love to offer a hand in the world to those who are in need.

The social-economic situation is one barrier many of us need to overcome. In most cases, it is a huge burden to our young children. However, how to deal with it in the right way is important for our life trajectory. For people who have faith in themselves and work hard to build a strong foundation, they will greatly increase the chance of their future success when they rise from early hardship. 

  1. Being a student teacher in AST, you are believing in yourself capable of changing the world for the better. Thank you.
  1. By joining this program, our students believe in themselves that they can change and improve themselves for a better future.  Thank you.

Find your own interest and work on it. If we are a fish, we go to swim. If we are a bird, we go to fly. If we love math, work on a lot of math problems. If we love reading, read a lot of books. 

Together, we can do better. Thanks for everyone’s effort. 

Opening remarks at 2019 HCPSS redistricting work session

Opening remarks at 2019 HCPSS redistricting work session

7:00PM, 2019-10-17

With some revisions.

Before I start, I would like to thank all the students and parents who shared their feedback with the board whether your position is supporting or opposing the proposal. The response from the community is tremendous. More than 700 students and parents testified at the public hearing sessions, for a total of seven nights. It never happened before. Unfortunately the superintendent’s plan is a turning point in this process. During this process, some ugliness have been demonstrated. I want to take this opportunity to denounce those radicals again from both the supporter side and the opposition side.  

The most disturbing aspects are those anonymous letters with fake addresses and names to spill hatred and racist comment. And you don’t know they are deliberately to do that to stir the pot or that is their true belief. We should be able to have a civil discussion on this. What we can do here is to unite and find a common ground to optimize capacity utilization and achieve equity.

In my opinion, school redistricting should not be a race issue. It should not be a political issue nor an ideological issue. It is a logistic issue. We need to set this right. Some schools are overcrowded and others are under-utilized. We need to balance their utilization rate. Let’s focus on the real issue here. Let’s focus on the issue of capacity.  In terms of achievement gap, we should not use redistricting to address that. If achievement can be simply solved by redistricting, the gap should have been resolved many years ago in other parts of the country and we would not still keep talking about this gap in the whole nation. 

When we try to catch two birds using one stone, we will eventually lose both birds. Try to detangle different problems carefully, and design an evidence based solution accordingly. A controlled study with different variables to study the achievement gap is very important. We need to refrain ourselves from making “feel good” policy, which is very dangerous. It is easy to feel good or self compliment ourselves to fall back to the self echoing chamber, even though that does not solve the problem.

We also should not just hastily follow other school districts’ opinion/result. Howard County is diverse. It is a wealthy county (top 10 in the nation) and it is doing pretty well. We should be able to develop our own plan to help each student, to close the achievement gap with a clear goal. We should design a step-by-step plan, and evaluate the intervention program’s performance year-by-year.  For example, for some student groups in some schools, students with FARM actually have higher graduation rate than their peers without FARM. The achievement is attributed to the special program and efforts by community, parents network and HCPSS staff who work hard to address the achievement issues. How can we explore such effort and explore whether such help for underprivileged students can be enhanced in other schools?

As a board, any decision may impact thousands of children negatively. We need to be really careful. Evidence based approach should be the only approach. I agree with the “do no harm” approach. We should be very proud that HCPSS is doing the best among all Maryland public school systems. We don’t want to start a revolution to break our current system. As someone who grew up in the country that had “culture revolution”, I want to caution that revolution is very unpredictable.

What exactly is the objective of this redistricting?  

  1. Every school achieve 100%? 
  2. How to achieve that? 
  3. The number of students is constantly increasing, how to rebalance that? 
  4. Are we leading to more developments such that we have more students than the school could handle?

All these questions should be laid out and well thought out before the polygons are being moved. 

We should refrain ourselves from frequent redistricting. Just like families need stability, the same holds true for the school system. Students, parents and communities like stability and predictability. What we have now, we will have three large redistricting in 5 years, which is totally detrimental to the school system. 

We should only move minimum number of students as necessary to balance the capacity of the schools. Keep walkers as walkers. Keep contiguous community together.  Improve social economic status for the needist, not just balance it out. 

We should always keep the cost in consideration. Even this redistricting vote comes before the 2021 budget discussion, I want to remind my fellow board members, the budget projection already does not look good for fiscal 2021. 

Saving every penny matters.

Personally I took some time to write a software to analyze the polygon moves and compute statistics on such moves. I have developed two plans based on community feedback and board members feedback. I am still finalizing the plan and will share it with all board members when it is ready. 

We know HS13 should be able to come online on time and a huge redistricting will be unavoidable then. However, we are not doing anything to prevent from moving the communities and students twice. This is unacceptable. Everybody talks about a plan. Unfortunately we don’t have a plan here. 

My fellow board members, let’s lead by example.  Don’t rush to a solution, instead focusing on the problem we have now. Take a step back, focusing on a few overcrowding schools and address them with equity in the framework. Evidence based approach should be our approach.

Don’t fall to the trap of the developers. I have been involved in community for a while. I know how strong their lobby is. More schools we open for development, more developments will follow that.  It is time to say NO to them as a school board. 

Policy 6010: 

The number one issue facing the school and guiding the Policy 6010 is capacity.

When I was running for the board back in 2017, I clearly stated that I am against massive redistricting. We should find better solutions which will disrupt as few students as possible. We should put our students first.

Then there are multiple criteria. How to evaluate different solutions more objectively is not easy, but it can be modelled. I developed a software to do redistricting. I am soliciting ideas on how to normalize, weight on different criteria based on each criterion. 

The way forward

We have more than 700 public testimonies in front of the board for 7 nights. That never happened before.  By my account, Only one parent clearly supports moving his own kids.  This tells us something. Vast majority of those testified, 99.85% of them love their own schools and don’t want to move their own kids. 

“Do no harm” should be our principal. Our school may need extra improvement or it may have reached its capacity limit with limited resources. However, we should not start a revolution to tear down our current system.

Let’s solve our issue with deliberation and with caution. 

END of speech.

2019 HCCS graduation speech

哈维中文 2019毕业典礼

伍超,周日,2019/6/9

谢谢哈维中文学校的邀请,我特别恭喜即将毕业的同学们,也谢谢还坚持在路上的弟弟妹妹们。恭喜你们,谢谢你们。

鹅鹅鹅,曲项向天歌的牙牙学语的童年,

窗前明月光,疑是地上霜的纯真小学,

大漠孤烟直,长河落日圆的成长中的孤单和落寞

以及到“先天下之忧而忧,后天下之乐而乐”的忧国忧家的广阔胸怀

到处流淌着中华文化的精神和气魄。

我们亲爱的同学们,你们在爸爸妈妈,爷爷奶奶,外公外婆的关怀下,终于毕业了。请向他们表示最忠心的感谢。你们在哈维中文学校的老师们,对你们不离不弃,也请向他们表示最诚挚的问候。

经过这么多年的努力,你们流淌在中华文化,最广阔,最优秀,最大气的道路中成长着。恭喜你们,终于毕业了。

这其中的斗争和考验,眼泪和欢笑,都将是你们生命旅程中最宝贵经历的一部分。我要代表哈维郡教育委员会感谢你们,你们的父母,你们的老师。虽然公立学校基本没有中文教育,你们在每一个周末,风雨无阻,冰雪无碍,克服困难,坚持到底。这一走就是上十年。

你们完成了这一步,还有很多很长的路要走。这一步路为你们将来的路,铺上了很多很多,勇气,毅力,乐观,还有深沉和自信。

请保持住,你们的这份坚持,勇气,乐观,智慧,勇敢和善良,就如同你们吸取的中华文化中最优秀的那部分精神财富,永远成为你们力量的源泉,智慧的指引。在你们奋斗的征程中,你们今天所学习的,领悟的,或者还不理解的文化和语言,都是那盏耀眼的明灯,照亮着你们。

长风破浪会有时, 直挂云帆济沧海。无限的未来和可能在等着你们。

祝贺你们。

2019 High School Graduation Speech

Embrace the change

2019 High School Graduation Speech

River Hill (Wednesday, 5/29/2019, 7:00PM-9:00)/ Mount Hebron (Thursday, 5/30)

By Dr. Chao Wu

It is a great honor to speak with you, our seniors. You will soon fly around the world to find your passion, work on your dream and enjoy a new chapter of your life. I would like to encourage you to “embrace the change”.

As one of the great ancient Chinese philosophers, Lao Zi in Taode Jing, 2400 years ago, wrote:

Dao that can be talked about is not the eternal Dao itself;
A name that can be given is not the eternal thing itself.

I am extending a little bit here: you today will not be the same you tomorrow. Change always happens.

My life has been full of changes.

I did not have a high-school graduation ceremony, neither did some of the parents here. When I was in high school, our main purpose was to work hard and to get into college because there were very few other opportunities. At that time, there were only 30% or less high school graduates who can go to a college.

Then I received a really great score from the three-day college entrance exam and entered one of the best universities in China. It opened the door to me for many more opportunities.  Later I went to Singapore and then came to University of Maryland. Then I settled in Howard County and ran for the school board in 2018. With a dedicated campaign, I won a seat on the school board eventually.

In my life, I have been working really hard and preparing for the opportunities when it becomes available. There is no other way around since I came from a very humble, unprivileged family. I kept moving forward, and adapted myself to the three different societies that are quite different in culture, economic and political environments.

I strive to be the better of myself.

Change is permanent in our lives. Embrace the change.

The same for you, our proud and young graduates. Your new chapter of life will be different. You will not be under your parent’s radar any more. You will face never-ending changes and encounter differences in all spectrums. You will have countless opportunities to shape your own future.

The world is so big. You will be like a water drop in the ocean. However, please don’t forget your High School friends. Remember: your classmates next to you, may be your colleagues or even start-up co-founders. Can you have a hug with them now?

Embrace the change and follow by action

Embrace the change, understand the challenge and lead by action, not just words. Trust me, your future will be mainly decided by your own action.

The society is changing so much in recent years which is driven by the societal, economic and political landscapes not only in this country, but across the globe.

You are not immune to this change. For example, Artificial Intelligence will remove many repetitive, and non-challenging jobs. The call center and online service centers have been downsized dramatically. We need to educate and inform ourselves to avoid the risk going in this type of industry that is soon obsolete.

So invest yourself in the areas which require creativity and passion. Make sure those jobs will not be easily displaced by robot and AI.

Please take care of yourself, find new friends, and pursue the purpose of the life. It can be long. It can be complicated. It can have set-backs. However, never ever lose hope and call home often for support.

Finally, congratulations. The New World is waiting for you!

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Photo credit to Deb Jung, Howard County Council Member District Four.

Swear-in speech on 2018-12-3

Chao Wu Swear-in Speech

2018-12-3

It is my great honor and pleasure to be a new board member of Howard County Board of Education.

I first would like to thank my family here, my wife, my daughter and my son. Without their support, I would not be able to volunteer at all in the community many years ago. When I first served on the River Hill Village Board, my daughter was 2 years old and my son was not born yet. It is my wife who really managed everything well and smoothly. I own every thanks to her.

I am speaking in Chinese for a few seconds. 我非常感谢我的家庭,我的太太,女儿和儿子。我开始在社区做志愿者活动的时候,我女儿才两岁左右,我儿子还没有出生。是我老婆在家里忙上忙下,使得今天的一切才成为可能。我感谢她为这个家庭所作出的牺牲和努力。十八年前,我和她在中国合肥相识,现在我们两个人远离故土,这个美丽的哈维郡安家乐业,希望我们彼此支持,携手向前。

I would like to thank my campaign team and my volunteer team. It is their strongest support which made today possible.  They believed in me and usually dragged in their whole family (their children and their parents) to support my campaign, whether in the sunshine or in the pouring rain. They helped dropping the literature and greeting voters. They helped organizing greet and meet. They helped funding my event, donating money to my campaign. They sent me many great advices. They put a yard sign in front of their house. Or they simply showed up in my event. Majority of them had never done this before. It was their first time really devoted to a campaign activity because we all believe great education is the bridge to success for our younger generation.

Eventually every little support helped. We won number 4 out of 13 candidates in the primary election in June. We won the second place out of 8 eight candidates in the general election in November.  I am so proud of you and you should also be very proud of yourself. We should be proud of ourselves. We set a goal, worked really hard and made it.  It is a victory for all of us.

Finally I would like to thank our voters who casted their votes for me. No endorsement is better than our voters’ trust. As an independent candidate and non-partisan election, I received 54,254 votes from our voters in our county. You believed in my vision for the school system. and you listened to my personal stories.  Thank you for your trust.

In the following four years, I am looking forward to working with all other board members, teachers, school staff, our students, parents and other stakeholders. We would try our best to provide quality education for all our students.  Keep an open mind, improve the decision and communication process and seek a command ground for common sense solutions for our school system.

Thank you very much.

 

 

 

Carry the torch and move forward

Part of my speech at 4/7/2018 African American Coalition and Delta Sigma Theta Soroity BOE Candidate Forum:

When I grew up, Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream” was one of the few English articles I was asked to recite. I really like it and he motivated and changed this county.

If it were not for Dr. King and the civil rights movement, I would not even be here, let alone running for BOE.

Civil rights movement never ends until everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Education is one of the key parts of this movement and this dream. We must provide equitable learning opportunities for each student. We must also encourage our students to overcome all difficulties and pursue their dream.