Montgomery County Education

Graciela-Rivera-Oven-on-EducationEducation

I am making Montgomery County Education the foundation of my campaign, and I will continue my advocacy for public education because its a life priority for me. It’s not just for my kids, it’s for all the parents in our community whose kids face challenges within our system.

We are a diverse community, technically a majority-minority County, and this an asset that does come with its own set of challenges, however, we have the capacity and human resources to prepare our children for a 21st century global economy. Our focus should be to ensure we can provide the kind of quality Education that equips and prepares all our children for college, offers our teachers the tools they need to be effective, and to address safety concerns, so that there are no hesitations regarding the protection of our children in our schools.

I am looking forward to working with leaders, administrators, teachers, parents and students across the County to ensure we take care of our teachers and focus on losing achievement gaps for our students in our County’s education system.

Early Childhood

We must do better to expand access to early childhood education. We all know the statistics and overall life improvement to our children’s education with just an investment on early childhood education alone.

The viability of our County to continue to attract a world-class economy is pinned directly to the ability of our schools to provide the best education possible. The foundation to these objectives is precisely early childhood programs for the most number of kids, so that we can begin to minimize achievement gaps.

The initiatives necessary begin with prioritization of the budget to ensure the Council is funding more slots for students. We must also innovate to work with the business community to open more opportunities to early childhood education in locations where parents have close access from their place of employment.

I believe we have the human resources within the County to expand early childhood education, we just need to get creative so that together with business we are facilitating this for all working parents.

K-12 Achievement Gaps

I believe we have a wonderful group of educators, PPW’s, counselors, custodians, and others who are working in our school system because they have the vocation to teach our children.

Clearly we are one of the top school systems in the country and as such, we have an asset that attracts big companies to us like Marriott, Lockheed Martin, etc. This is why we are having a continuous debate about being chosen by Amazon in Montgomery County.

But we are at a crossroads in our  county, where we need to look at the drop-out rate and achievement gap among our minority children. The achievement gap translates into an opportunity gap for our older student population, which is also of great importance for us to address. In that respect, I think the Council can play an important role in facilitating learning opportunities with private-public  partnerships. This isn’t just a crucial effort to maintain our quality of education, it’s also a crucial factor in sustaining our collective quality of life countywide, as it’s a socio-economic imperative now.

We need to equip our teachers with the resources and support they need and deserve. I will see to it that we have more parent coordinators, especially up county in schools where they don’t even have an ESOL teacher assigned, and young people are falling through the cracks and parents are lost in our system. This support is essential and critical to the success of our diverse student population. My ESOL teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, made an incredible mark in my life. We need to replicate what is working in others schools in order to make that happen.

Students’ Safety

Given the latest gun violence incident (and unfortunately the incredibly inadequate response by our federal government to address the issue in America), I believe as a parent right now our most immediate concern is the safety of our children. Consequently, this is an issue I would like to address as soon as possible.

We must work collectively to guarantee a focus on standardization of best practices and strengthen security for our children and peace of mind for parents across the County, and it’s particularly urgent granted the inability by the federal government to deal with the easy access to guns and school massacre crisis.

I am running for office precisely to ensure that we address these very real challenges that our children face in our schools. We must be more vigilant in addressing mental health and behavioral issues—not just for the child—but enhance their safety at school and at home if their family stability is also threatened.

Today’s political climate is having a negative impact on our families and children. In order to continue to be the economically strong County we have been, we must ensure and enhance all of our children’s education.

I believe there’s a need for a comprehensive look into mental health services that we should consider making available in schools to better assess and help address our kids’ and parents’ concerns regarding mental and physical safety. A range of factors can impact a student’s mental and physical health; other student peers, academic performance, a less than ideal home environment, and vulnerability to gang-related activity; we must do a better job of identifying students that are at higher risk for poor or even dangerous health outcomes.

Higher Education

Hired by the Ana G Mendez University of Puerto Rico to establish a University campus in Wheaton, MD

We need to do better in partnering between the private and public sector. We also need to look at what are best practices and what’s not working.

Our County has changed in many ways over the last five years, and I believe we’re at a time when we need to be more aware of those changes and address the needs of those populations most impacted over those changes.

One of those changes includes, for example, creating opportunities in workforce development for our youth, who look to be working in more research and technologically-developed environments.

We need to keep investing in our schools which are developing the workforce of the future, but we must focus on a dual program, so that we’re also creating opportunities for the students interested in the skilled trades schools, as well as those who are interested in being college bound.

We also need to offer more programs like Coding so young people can have a career path into cyber security, since Montgomery County is one of largest recipients of funding for a Cyber Security Hub.

Definitely support our career pathways, especially our institutions like Montgomery College and the paths many of our young people take with Universities at Shady Grove. We need to look at free tuition for Community College for title one students.

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