Red Maryland Candidate Survey: David Bass for Frederick County Board of Education
Masters in Public Administration (MPA); Masters in Special Education; Bachelors in History
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I serve as the Director of Jewish Life at Gettysburg College. I am also an academic tutor with College Living Experience, an organization that serves young adults with learning differences.
I taught three years of special education at the middle and high school levels. I then worked for four years at a nonprofit organization serving people with developmental disabilities. Since 2015, I have worked in higher education in a variety of roles. I established an alternative testing center for students who need assistive technology or a quieter location to take exams. I served as assistant director for HEARS (Higher Education Access Retention & Success), which created pathways for adults to further their education or complete a paused college degree. I also worked on Jewish Life initiatives at two colleges, including establishing a new Center for Jewish Student Life.
I am a first time candidate.
Social Media Accounts
You can find me @bass4frederick on facebook and twitter
Why are you running for office?
I am committed to outstanding public schools that ensure every child has access to the American Dream. I believe I have the skill set to advance our school system. I have been a teacher, a nonprofit administrator and have worked in higher education. I am an advocate for people with developmental disabilities, and I understand that we need to continue to improve our special education services. Also, I am a good listener. I’m always interested in hearing from community members to ensure that all experiences are considered as we create policy for our school system.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
I have been extremely impressed over the years by the work of Senator Sherrod Brown. Senator Brown has supported public education, LGBT rights and economic policies that strengthen the middle class. Senator Brown’s discussion of the ‘dignity of work’ can unite people, and it can reassert the vision of the American Dream to which we can all aspire.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
A few years ago, while studying for my Masters in Public Administration, I read Policy Paradox, which was written by Deborah Stone. First published in 1988 and revised about once about once a decade since then, Policy Paradox explores the competing interests within our public policy debates. It is a fascinating book that combines aspects of political science, economics, philosophy and sociology. It deepened my thinking and helped reinforce my inclination that there are rarely simple answers to the complex challenges we face.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
David Conley’s book, College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School, has given me insights into how schools can prepare every student for success in their next step after high school graduation. I have found Conley’s book to be practical and I personally appreciate that that author was a first generation college student.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
We must ensure an excellent education for each FCPS student. In this regard, we must continue develop our special education services to ensure that we better meet the needs of students with learning differences.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
A report recently came out from our FCPS ombudsperson highlighting that a majority of complaints to her office involved timing of communication and perceived miscommunication. While we must work on closing academic achievement gaps, improving special education services, and ensuring college and career readiness, I have begun to reflect on the idea that progress in these areas will be limited if there is miscommunication between community members and our school system.
What is your position on the Kirwan Commission recommendations?
I support the Kirwan Commission recommendations.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
1) Maryland had the best ranked school system in the country for years, but we have recently slipped in national rankings. This drop in school quality affects our children’s future, as well as our current economy and home prices. Strong schools are one of Maryland’s strongest assets, and so we must address this issue.
2) We continue to have an academic achievement gap in Maryland. While this is a national problem, some studies including a 2017 analysis by Education Week (and cited in an article on cnsmaryland.org), have found that the achievement gap is more significant in Maryland than in 80% of other states. We must address this achievement gap to ensure that we are offering an outstanding public education to every child in Maryland.
3) We must continue to improve the college and career readiness of our graduates. As the economy continues to change, we must seek new solutions to ensure that every graduate has the skills and academic preparation to succeed in the career or college of their choice.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I have read parts of the American Studies curriculum, which I think is comprehensive and if implemented appropriately, provides a strong background for students to understand American History and to be informed citizens.
What is your position on school spending?
Public education has been prioritized by our county government in recent years, and for us to continue to have excellent public schools, I am cautiously optimistic that this support will continue.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
What is your position on teacher tenure?
I support teacher tenure.
What is your position on standardized testing?
This is a complicated issue. It is important that we have objective measures of student achievement to evaluate our progress as a school system. It is certainly possible, however, that objective measures of student achievement could be achieved with fewer testing hours.
What is your position on classroom size?
Students learn best when we can reduce class size. I am interested in keeping FCPS class size at its current levels, or reducing class size if this is financially feasible.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?
No I would not support taxation authority for the Board of Education.