Board of Education Candidate, Sue Johnson – Part I

Candidate for Frederick County Board of Education

Sue, husband Ed and son Matt on the family farm. Photo by Engin Caliskan

On April 2, The Tentacle sent a Questionnaire to each Board of Education candidate containing 19 questions. Below are Question and Answers 1-5 from Sue Johnson.

Since Ms. Johnson was the only Board of Education candidate respectful enough to respond we will show our appreciation by giving the readers and voters the time to absorb her responses to some very serious issues. Her website can be found here.

1. According to Frederick County Public Schools there is a systemic race issue in our schools where minority students are unfairly targeted by administrators and staff.  Do you agree? If so what local statistics and facts do you have to back up that belief?

I think there are race and inequity issues within FCPS and it could be due to unconscious bias.  FCPS is trying to address it but more work needs to be done in this area.  A student taking EN101 and 102 at Frederick Community College has about a 1 in 3 chance of having an instructor of color. Students of color enrolled in those same classes in the FCPS Dual Enrollment Program currently have zero chance of having an instructor that looks like them. Statistics from indicates advanced placement, gifted & talented, and suspension rates are disproportionate based on race.

2. Do you believe there is a gang problem in our schools?  If you do, what steps would you take to insure the safety of all students? If you do not believe there is an issue, why not?

Yes, there are small pockets of gang problems in our schools. I support the use of School Resource Officers and additional programs promoting positive engagement of students. I would continue to encourage the presence and growth of community partner programs including the Frederick Police Athletic League, City Youth Matrix, I Believe In Me Inc, Boys & Girls Club of Frederick, and others. I support physical safety programs including Stop The Bleed, and Avoid, Deny, Defend. Unfortunately, you can never ensure the safety of all students; it’s all about balancing risk and figuring out the best ways to utilize limited resources.

3. There are conflicting reports regarding “restorative justice” practices and their impact on school safety.  What is your opinion?   

Restorative practices shift focus from retribution to actual problem solving. FCPS is fortunate to have excellent leadership and professional development opportunities in learning and incorporating restorative practices within FCPS. Restorative practice programs have appealing aspects including the concept that the people most affected by the offenses, the victims, are able to participate in resolutions. I am all for programs that result in meaningful consequences for offenders as well as meaningful resolutions for victims. My opinion is that solving the problem of ‘why’ an offense occurred will result in a lower chance of recurrence or escalation resulting in safer schools.

4. Were you aware that FCPS does not have a specific reading program to teach beginning readers?  Would you change this, and why?

I trust our teachers to incorporate young reader programs and strategies that work best for their students. My son, who is a FPCS second grader, was fortunate to have received outstanding reading and literacy instruction in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade. I think in today’s climate with an abrupt move to distance learning, however, the prospect of adopting a main reading program with strong digital resources and tools should be explored. As a college professor who started teaching online in 1998, I highly value the importance of solid digital resources and benefits in continuity of learning in distance learning environments.

5. In June of 2017 the Board of Education adopted Policy 443 “Creating Welcoming and Affirming Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.”  This policy allows boys to enter the bathrooms and locker rooms of girls as well compete on the sports of those traditionally set aside for girls.  Do you support this policy?  Why?

I support this policy. We have a duty to be respectful and accepting of all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I think it is appropriate for students in early stages of gender transitioning to use bathroom facilities with a single toilet where possible and that thoughtful provisions are put in place to accommodate all students as schools are built or renovated. I played Little League baseball as a nine year old in a time when girls were banned by Little League and was grateful for the opportunity to play a game I loved despite being a girl.

To Be Continued April 28, 2020.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally posted on April 27, 2020 without Ms. Johnson’s response to question #5. Her response is now included.

April 24, 2020 article here.

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Cindy A. Rose began writing for the Tentacle in 2011 trying to raise awareness over things happening within Frederick County Public Schools. She began keeping a close watch on FCPS when she learned there were not enough air conditioned buses for special needs children during the hot Maryland summers. The Tentacle offered her a place to share her concerns with her community when local newspapers didn’t always. Cindy had the opportunity to buy the Tentacle from creator/owner John W. Ashbury in 2019, so she did. She believed then, as she believes now, our communities, friends and neighbors have important things to say that needs to be shared with those living around them. Large corporate news companies don’t always share in those passions and concerns. The Tentacle is a local news, commentary and community website run by citizens, for citizens. Its success depends on your participation.