A group of 17 former Student Members of the Howard County Board (SMOB) of Education released this statement in support of current SMOB Zach Koung:
We are a community of leaders, technologists, organizers, politicians, academics, educators, students, and parents that share one common experience: serving as the Student Associate or Student Member of the Howard County Board of Education (SMOB).
The Student Associate position of the Board of Education of Howard County was established in 1988 to provide a seat at the table for a current student. Those who filled this role were able to participate in public discussion but were left without a voice when the time came for the Board to make a decision and act. After observing nearly 20 years of Student Members of the Board sharing thoughtful, informed, and well-developed contributions, Howard County residents decided it was time for the SMOB to be not only seen but also heard when it counts. Overwhelming support from the community resulted in 2007 legislation allowing the SMOB a limited vote on certain issues.
Today, as part of the only stakeholder group mentioned in the school system’s mission — students — the SMOB is the single board member who can speak from current, firsthand experience. The position brings a unique perspective to the Board as the one directly affected by its decisions, and this perspective merits the weight granted by a vote.
As former SMOBs, we have spent the past 30 years supporting this voice and the growing Howard County student population, and we continue our work today. In a year that is challenging for all of us, the student voice is needed more than ever to ensure that the voice of Howard County Public School Systems’ (HCPSS) most important constituency is part of the decision-making process for our award-winning school system.
A recently-filed lawsuit threatens to strip the SMOB — and, as a result, HCPSS students — of their vote on matters before the Board. This lawsuit, filed after thirteen years after the establishment of the SMOB’s right to vote in state law, focuses solely on the current SMOB’s vote on virtual learning. A lawsuit aiming to completely strip voting rights from the SMOB due to a vote on a single issue sends an incredibly disheartening message to students of Howard County: “Your opinion matters, as long as the grown-ups agree with it.”
We stand in support of the Student Member of the Board position and of the present SMOB, Zach Koung. We uplift the voices of the students speaking out right now across Maryland, including the Howard County Association of Student Councils Officer Team, current SMOBs, and the students and adult allies across the county and state.
We are with you.
Marcy Leonard 1988 – 1989
Jamie Kendrick 1992 – 1993
Monica Simonsen, Ph.D. 1995 –1996
Rebecca Gifford Goldberg 1997 – 1998
Courtney Carter (Dredden)1999 – 2000
Jamie Martin 2003 – 2004
Jeff Amoros 2004 – 2005
Jeff Lasser 2005 – 2006
Adejire Bademosi 2008 – 2009
Josh Manley 2009 – 2010
Cole Rosenberg 2012 – 2013
Rick Mikulis 2014 – 2015
Rachel Lin 2015 – 2016
Griffin Diven 2016 – 2017
Anna Selbrede 2017 – 2018
Ambika Siddabathula 2018 – 2019
Allison Alston 2019 – 2020
*DISCLAIMER — The opinions expressed in this letter are that of solely the authors and not representative of any organization, corporation or entity to which they are affiliated.