Candidate Survey: Mavourene Robinson for Howard County Board of Education
B.Sc., Fairleigh Dickinson
Current HoCo Volunteer and Mom; Former Management Consultant and Human Resources Professional (SPHR)
I have extensive HCPSS policy and operational knowledge, as well as a better than average awareness of the data driven areas of improvement needed to help support HCPSS becoming a best in class public school system. I have served as Vice Chair, Community Advisory Council (CAC) to the Board of Education (BOE) since 2015 and as an Operating Budget Review Committee Member to the BOE since 2016. Additionally, I bring industry experience that includes multi-million dollar budget management/accountability; successfully conducting operational assessments and improvements to enhance outcomes; and a keen ability to creatively problem solve. As the needs of our students, staff and County become more complex, business acumen is critically important at every level of government.
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Why are you running for office?
I am running the Board of Education, because Howard County constituents have the right to expect elected officials to make objective, impartial and equitable decisions without his/her personal preferences taking priority over what is best for our County. Having been an actively engaged parent for 7 years, 3 of which include HCPSS Policy and Committee representation, I have witnessed how much wider the divides/demands of one group at the expense of another (from every camp) are and how it ultimately has been detrimental to HCPSS overall.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
This is a tough question for me, because I think our current political party insiders have been too focused on personal gains to focus on keeping America great. It would be a combination of George Washington, who chose not to become president for life b/c he knew firsthand the evil that results from monarchy; Abraham Lincoln, because he was courageous enough to accept the challenge of doing what was right for slaves, despite being on the outside of the will of the political elite and wealthy; President Eisenhower for what he did to support the Arkansas Nine; Jimmy Carter, because he wasn’t afraid to say Jesus; Tip O’Neil former Speaker of the House, because he knew how to lead opposing Parties through relationship building and strength; and Ronald Reagan, because despite some of his policies that I vehemently opposed, world leaders who hate(d) America recognized how resolute he was to defend America to their own peril.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
If You Can Keep It, by Eric Metaxes is my current favorite, because it highlights the beauty of America’s originally designed political structure and intentions with clarity.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
I have two. Young, Gifted and Black by Theresa Perry & Through Ebony Eyes by Gail L. Thompson
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
1. Identifying operational inefficiencies that are too quickly depleting/draining operational budget resources. As a member of the Operating Budget Review Committee, 2016 – current, I am convinced that there is still improvement to be made in this area.
2. To strengthen HCPSS BOE legislative advocacy and engagement at the County and State levels by harnessing the power of the voice of HCPSS parents and staff in the areas that directly impact our schools. Howard County’s voice and partnership in Annapolis, from the perspective of advocating for our schools must be a priority.
3. As much as possible, being the bridge between the community and HCPSS Teachers and Staff. In my personal experience as a mom, I have found that too often assumptions are made before there is real dialogue. Personally, I was guilty of that as the mom of an only child in his K – 2 years. The reality is that with few exceptions, there was no ill intent. During my tenure on the BOE, I will focus on enhancing dialogue, not merely information/data output, to move HCPSS partnership with parents forward.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
Funding data-evidenced programs for the increasing percentage of FARM students and how to implement truly equitable programs for non-FARM and FARM students.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
Bullying & safety; achievement gaps; and how to fund schools whose population is directly impacted by current Federal and State policies on immigration, school funding formulas, and unfunded program mandates.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
Howard County curriculum varies per grade level, but the curriculum standards for each grade level (Elementary, Middle and High) are consistent. As a mom and former policy committee member, I have read the elementary and middle curriculum standards. As a citizen I reviewed the proposed HS curriculum/book the summer of 2016. There is much more that I dislike than like. I am displeased with how little American history (including African-American History) is shared and how much seems geared toward increasing awareness, sensitivity and possible proselytizing for specific world religions and lifestyles. The English and grammar activities/lessons were juvenile and seemed void of complex, critical thinking, analysis or writing exercises.
What is your position on school spending?
School spending should be tied to performance measures and outcomes, not unlike Balanced Scorecards that are used in industry to ensure that the nearly billions of dollars Maryland taxpayers provide are well spent. The following question on 3 areas of spending includes a list comprised of Operating Fund and Capital Planning, two mutually exclusive funds. Therefore my responses will focus on Operating Funds, with my aforementioned caveat that continued and increased funding for each should depend upon performance measures and outcomes.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
Curriculum Development, Music Programs, Teacher Training
What is your position on teacher tenure?
It should be used as a recruiting tool to draw top talent for an increasingly hard to attract profession, but not as a tool/mechanism to keep bad teachers employed by school systems. It goes back to there needing to be performance measures for educators just as there is for practically every other profession. Teacher performance measures should not rely heavily on student standardized test results.
What is your position on standardized testing?
Standardized tests are called standardized for a reason, meaning they measure using a tool that is for a “standard or homogenized” student who in actuality doesn’t exist. Every student has different learning styles and strengths, and it is my opinion that reliance on standardized testing for placement or identification as high performing completing ignores students who are equally talented, gifted, etc. in areas that aren’t in the typical ELA or Math curriculum. It further alienates children who with support could become our next Newberry Award, Nobel Peace Prize, master mechanics, etc.
What is your position on classroom size?
Performance outcomes Gen. Ed., Special Ed., FARMS, etc. all indicate that smaller student to teacher ratios improve student performance and educator morale/performance. It is my opinion that schools should not be allowed to exceed 100% capacity.
Do you believe the Board of Education should having taxation authority?
No, absolutely not.