Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A NEW DAY: Montgomery County Students Elect New School Board Member // Countywide PTA Elects 15-Year-Old Officer

UPDATE: Don't forget to attend this Saturday's Young Democrats of Maryland annual Blue State Bash. The event is in HoCo and features Senate President Mike Miller, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Comptroller Peter Franchot.

Many interesting dynamics are currently at play in Montgomery County, Maryland as students and youths continue seeking direct representation on all manner of policy. The results thus far continue to astound Maryland Juice. Below we discuss two new student leaders who have emerged in Montgomery County:

1. COUNTYWIDE PTA ELECTS 15-YEAR-OLD OFFICER: The Gazette yesterday reported that Montgomery County's PTA umbrella organization elected a 15-year-old student as one of its officers:

GAZETTE: When Richie Yarrow stood up as a newly-elected officer of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations at its meeting last week, some members were shocked.

Richie is 15 years old....

He said he wants to bring a stronger student voice to the 48,000-member organization, which is, for the most part, parent-run.

“This is my education that is at stake, and I want to have some say in it,” Richie said....

Richie, a freshman at Richard Montgomery High School, served last year as the vice president of Eastern Middle School’s PTSA. He was also president last year of Montgomery County Junior Councils, the county’s organization for middle school student government.

This school year, he is MCCPTA liaison from Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association.

Susan Fleck, co-coordinator of the Montgomery Blair area, made a recommendation from the floor to add Richie to the slate. After hearing that Richie had served as a PTSA officer, delegates added Richie, and the slate was voted upon as a whole....

Fleck said she encouraged Richie to take the position, because of how involved he already is.

“It is great to be able to support the youth of today because they are the leaders of tomorrow,” Fleck said....

Richie has been trying to boost student involvement in the Board of Education and PTA, testifying in Annapolis for the student member of the board to have a vote, and working with MCCPTA this year to establish a student involvement committee....

Always interested in policy and world events, Richie has been reading The Economist for a few years, she said.

Unfortunately, some delegates to MoCo's regional PTA (MCCPTA) did not know they were voting for a student and want to change the rules next year:
GAZETTE: Richie said that the delegates should have known he was a student — he goes to all of the MCCPTA meetings and knows many delegates.

...for many delegates, it was their first or second meeting, so they were not familiar with his name.

To be qualified, candidates must have served on a local PTA or PTSA board or on the MCCPTA’s board of directors, comprised of representatives from different areas and committees.

Congratulations to Richie Yarrow on his election victory. And a plea to the grownups: Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover. They're already talking about changing the election rules to prevent another student from serving? Hmm. This is the second time this month that MoCo youths have achieved some measure of success, only to run into disdain from the so-called grownups. Earlier this month, State Sen. Brian Frosh unilaterally killed legislation to expand student representation on the school board. The youths had played by the rules, but Sen. Frosh too, sought to monkey with the procedures to get his way. Now Frosh has a new student leader to contend with in the battle for youth empowerment (see below).

2. MOCO STUDENTS ELECT NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: An anonymous Maryland Juice reader sent us word that Montgomery County students have elected a new Student Member of the Board of Education (aka SMOB). John Mannes' term begins in July. We reprint our sources comments below:
ANONYMOUS READER: On April 25th, 2012, 64,677 middle and high school students in Montgomery County Public Schools cast their yearly votes for the SMOB - Student Member on the Board of Education. After a rigorous nominating convention, the many qualified candidates were narrowed down to the final two - Mr. John Mannes and Ms. Lissette Escobar.
John Mannes is currently a Junior at Northwest High School, and, including other leadership positions, serves as the Chief of Staff of the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, and formerly the Maryland State Director of the National Youth Association. Lissette Escobar, a Junior at Richard Montgomery High School, currently serves as, among various other student leadership positions, the Lobbying Director for the Montgomery County Regional Student Government Association, and has in the past served as the Montgomery County Regional Student Government's Vice President.

After a long and hard-fought battle, today, the campaign came to a close in the countywide elections. The winner is John Mannes, with 62.87% of the vote. Both candidates were extremely qualified for this office and are both proven student leaders in a multitude of ways.

The next Student Member is in a critical position to continue advocating for SMOB voting rights expansions, after HB701 did not even come to a vote this April 9th in the Maryland Senate (thanks in part to Sen. Brian Frosh).

The results were posted by the Montgomery County Public Schools office of Student Affairs at around 4:30 PM this afternoon.

SMOB GETS MORE VOTES THAN FROSH: Notably 40,662 Montgomery County residents voted for John Mannes. We presume many of them pay taxes, hold jobs, and contribute to the local economy. By comparison, Senator Frosh only received about 30,000 votes in his 2010 General Election:

More realistically though, in Montgomery County, the Democratic Primary is the decisive election. Senator Frosh only received about 13,000 votes in his 2010 Primary. John Mannes received about three times as many votes last week.

Maryland Juice is rooting for John Mannes and the students of Montgomery County in their battle for a greater voice. Make it happen and take no prisoners!

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