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Opinion: Is One Student Member Of The Board Enough For 162,680 Montgomery County Students?

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Photo by Frances O'Connor.

By Maren Gibb and Jacob Warren

The Maryland Board of Education is comprised of eight members, one of whom is a student elected through all middle and high schools throughout Montgomery County. This member is otherwise known as the SMOB, or the student member of the board.

The student member of the board is a exactly what it sounds like– an elected sophomore or junior from a high school in Montgomery County that serves on the board of education as a full member, having the power to vote and propose legislation.

Having a student voice on the board that makes decisions about students is an obvious way to make sure that the decisions that the board of education are making are going to best impact students around the county.

“The board of education directly affects every single student in MCPS and I think it would be ridiculous to have decisions made for us without any student representation,” said Maddie Graham, sister and policy advisor to SMOB candidate Valerie Graham of Paint Branch High School.

In the past, students from around the county have not been too pleased with the changes and the impact that the SMOB has had. They think that more representation is needed.

“I think there should be multiple student members of the board,” said Graham, “because the board is ultimately for students and meant to be doing the best things for students and I think they owe it to us to provide more representation.”

Adiba Chowdhury, a candidate from Blair says the single seat could be more effective.

“The SMOB does have the SMOB Advisory Council,” Chowdhury said. “I want to diversify that and make sure that our SGAs are directly connected so that we have a network of students who can talk to their schools and figure out the issues and prioritize the support that their students need.”

Along with Adiba’s claims that SMOB could be more effective, Jonathan Mortman, student government junior class secretary says, “I know Ananya’s impact levels were a lot more than [other] more recent SMOB’s because of the timing of her election… she now is serving as chair of multiple committees which is huge for the role of the SMOB.”

Students who wish to be the next SMOB submit a nomination application to the coordinator of student leadership who then must process and accept the application. Next, candidates must campaign and promote their platform in order to become one of the two candidates chosen at the SMOB Nominating Convention which will be held on February 20.

Students around the county are tired of not seeing the change promised by their representation in the board of education and are keeping a close eye as these SMOB elections grow closer.

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