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karlasilvestre

Candidate Survey: Karla Silvestre for Montgomery County Board of Education

Name
Karla Silvestre

Age
45

County
Montgomery

Education
Master’s degree in Education, University of Pennsylvania

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Career/Occupation
Director of Community Engagement, MC

Education Experience
Karla Silvestre’s education policy experience began at the University of Pennsylvania, where she worked at the Penn-Merck Collaborative for Science Education doing teacher training in hands-on science education in West Philadelphia Schools. Karla also served as Vice President for Children and Youth for a large non-profit managing preventative school-year and summer youth programs. Since her move to Maryland in 2007, Karla has continued her focus on education serving on the MCCPTA Curriculum committee and as a member of the MCPS Latino Student Achievement Action Group since 2013. She also served on the board of Woodlin Elementary School PTA and in the MCCPTA curriculum committee.

Karla Silvestre currently works as the Director of Community Engagement at Montgomery College since 2014 and leads the College’s efforts to be the community’s college through partnerships, engagement centers, outreach, and collaborative problem solving.

Other posts where Karla has served Montgomery County include a position as the Latino liaison for the County Executive in Montgomery County’s Office of Community Partnerships; a post as manager of the county’s Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center; ongoing participation in Montgomery Moving Forward’s leadership group; a position as board member of Montgomery History and Horizons of Greater Washington; a founding member of the Maryland Hispanic Gala; and co-chair of Montgomery County Public Schools’ Latino Student Achievement Action Group.

Karla Silvestre and her husband reside in Silver Spring, and her daughters attend Montgomery County public schools.

Political Experience
Karla has served Montgomery County including a position as Community Liaison for the County Executive in Montgomery County’s Office of Community Partnerships. This is her first time running for elected office.

Website
www.karlasilvestre.com

Social Media Accounts
@karlasilvestre4BOE

Why are you running for office?
We have a great school system and a thriving diverse community. I want to bring my educational and county-wide community experience to our school system to provide excellent educational opportunities for all students. We must have the highest expectations for all our students and provide a rigorous curriculum at all levels so students graduate ready for college and good jobs. We must meet the needs of all of our students and be accountable for our results. Your vote will help me bring my talent and skills to the Board of Education to help our all of our students thrive.

Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Pope Francis is the leader that I strive to emulate. First and foremost, he leads with humility. He reaches out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike- hence including people in the margins. He is a change agent, not satisfied with the status quo. He embraces change because he knows that changing a few things is not enough. Pope Francis was a priest of the people going out into the streets of Buenos Aires to talk with every day families. Pope Francis listens to diverse opinions and created a more diverse group to advise him. He leads by example and always puts the organization above himself.

What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
I love to read non-fiction and biographies. I think that we can learn so much from people that came before us.

What is your favorite book about education, and why?
“How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough because it was introduced to me in my Master’s program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and it deepened my understanding of how children develop character, how they learn to think, and how they overcome adversity.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?

We have to recruit and retain the best talent to work with our students. Great teachers and principals change lives and transform schools. The reality is that we have a teacher shortage in this country, and we have to be proactive to recruit the best talent because our students deserve the best. We also must strive to have a workforce that reflects our community. We can do that by growing our teacher workforce from the current MCPS student population, which is diverse and multilingual.

We must also strive to graduate 100% of our students. Today the graduation rate is 88% for African American students and 78% for Hispanic students (MCPS average graduation rate is 90%). For English language-learners that enter MCPS in high school, the graduation rate is only 40%. We can and must do better than this! It is the right thing to do for our students, but also for our county. People move to Montgomery County for the great public schools.

How do we increase our graduation rates?

We start by working with County government to expand access to early care and education for our students from age 0-5 because the achievement gap begins in kindergarten. We expand well-supported dual-language programs because that is the nationally proven model for student achievement for English language-learners. AND this benefits all students because the rest of the class learns a second language at an age when they are developmentally ready to acquire it.
We also expand college prep programs like ACES and CollegeTracks, so that every student that needs it has a college-prep coach to help them graduate and get admitted to the college of their choice.

RIGOR FOR ALL
We must have rigor and high expectations for all of our students, from the English language-learner, to the special education student, to those needing enriched instruction. I support expanding robust programs of enriched instruction at the neighborhood schools so that students don’t have to leave their home school to have their needs met. We must also ensure that we are encouraging all students to take the most rigorous classes. It is unacceptable that at Montgomery College 1/3 of students have to take remedial English and more than half (63%) have to take remedial math. We must provide the most rigorous curriculum for all our students so that they are truly ready for college and careers.

What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
The biggest issue is the whether MCPS continues to be a world class education system that attracts the top workforce talent to settle in Montgomery County and serves the student population of today. To that end, we must strive to graduate 100% of our students. Today the graduation rate is 88% for African American students and 78% for Hispanic students (MCPS average graduation rate is 90%). We can and must do better than this! It is the right thing to do for our students, but also for our county. People move to Montgomery County for the great public schools.

How do we increase our graduation rates?
We start by working with County government to expand access to early care and education for our students from age 0-5 because the achievement gap begins in kindergarten. We expand well-supported dual-language programs because that is the nationally proven model for student achievement for English language-learners. AND this benefits all students because the rest of the class learns a second language at an age when they are developmentally ready to acquire it.

We also expand college prep programs like ACES and CollegeTracks, so that every student that needs it has a college-prep coach to help them graduate and get admitted to the college of their choice.

What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
1. Global competitiveness since the U.S. in general is lagging behind. There are more high achieving students in China than the U.S. has students in its population.
2. Funding and training to meet the needs of the MCPS students of today from our English-language learners, to students in special education, gifted and talented programs, and low income populations.
3. Facilities to support the ever growing population growth. We need help to keep up with the current growth in student enrollment.

Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
We are changing the curriculum, and I encourage all parents to get involved in choosing the right curriculum so that it meets the needs of our students.

What is your position on school spending?
I applaud our county’s tradition of investing in education because it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for our students, and it is impacts our future workforce and tax base.

Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
Curriculum Development, New School Construction, Teacher Training

What is your position on teacher tenure?
We also have to recruit and retain the best talent to work with our students. Great teachers and principals change lives and transform schools. The reality is that we have a teacher shortage in this country, and we have to be proactive to recruit the best talent because our students deserve the best. We also must strive to have a workforce that reflects our community. We can do that by growing our teacher workforce from the current MCPS student population, which is diverse and multilingual.

What is your position on standardized testing?
We must prioritize testing that give teachers real time information so that they can intervene where appropriate to support student learning.

What is your position on classroom size?
The smaller the classroom size the better so that greater teachers have a fair chance of inspiring and changing lives among our student population.

Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?
No



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