Dr. Chen’s answers for League of Women Voters’ Questionnaire

1. If elected, what are the top three priorities you will pursue during your term?

My top three priorities are:
(1) addressing the staff shortage;
(2) providing adequate school infrastructure;
(3) improving student physical health and mental health.:

2. What actions will you take to address the impact the pandemic has had on students, especially related to learning loss, social development, and mental health?

HCPSS should provide and sustain a safe in-person learning environment for all students and bring back classroom instructions to pre-Covid levels. In-person learning is critical for children’s social development and mental health. In terms of learning loss, we can recruit high school students and staff to tutor students and reinforce any identified weak spots after school and during summer break. 

3. What changes would you make in how school funding is allocated so as to obtain the best results for students at the most responsible cost to taxpayers? Which interventions would you emphasize to provide the greatest benefit to students?

The allocation should have a priority list each year and be agile enough to meet new challenges. Staff salary and benefits should be No.1 priority this year due to staff shortage and the high inflation rate. The school budget needs to be sustainable and reflect the county revenue projection. Additionally, HCPSS should always scout cost effective new technologies/methods to solve pressing issues. 

4. What are the factors that should be considered for attendance area changes (redistricting), and what should trigger that review?

Redistricting should be least disruptive to students and families. Redistricting should only be based on school utilization and should be done less frequently and more predictably. Redistricting is the least effective method to address academic performance. HCPSS should work with the community to build a supportive and encouraging environment inside and outside schools. 

5. How would you support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of all students and their families in our schools?

I support diversity, equity, and inclusion and this is one of my platform issues. An inclusive school system should treat everyone fairly, appreciate their differences, and recognize their identities. Everyone should feel safe and welcomed at school. No one should be treated less because of their race, gender, identity, or ability. 

Dr. Linfeng Chen calls for volunteers for support

Dr. Linfeng Chen needs your help and support to win this election and make a positive impact on our schools. Please visit his website at http://www.chen4boe.org/volunteer to sign up for volunteer opportunities. Also you can write to Dr. Chen at Chen4BOE@gmail.com, he will get back to you with questions and inquiries. Thank you for any help on Dr. Chen’s Campaign for Howard County Board of Education!

My Concern on Mental Health of both Students and Teachers in Howard County

Do you care about the Mental Health of both Students and Teachers in Howard County? I certainly am concerned, and that’s one of the reasons I am running for the Howard County Board of Education. Join my team of volunteers and help me prioritize mental health in our school system. Together we can make a difference in the lives of our students and teachers. Click here to join our campaign team.

I will be looking for ways to work with the Superintendent, Howard County Council, the County Executive, and our Howard County Health Department to get much-needed support into our schools. Not only for our students but also for our beloved teachers who have shouldered a larger burden of educating our children during a pandemic.

Challenges faced by teachers and students in special education

The challenges faced by teachers and students in special education are problematic and need to be addressed urgently.

The biggest problem is staffing. We should add more special education teachers, paraeducators, and student assistants. In order to retain and recruit student assistants and paraeducators in special education we need to provide a differential salary above what is paid for the same title in a regular classroom setting. We should mandate a better salary and benefits in addition to offering more training to the temporary employees hired. Currently, temporary employees receive very little money, no benefits, and no paid days off, while working with special education students with the most severe disabilities and behavioral issues. Temporary employees in this field have high turnover and the current practice is not sustainable.

In addition, we should reduce the overwhelming paperwork and bureaucracy faced by these teachers. Documentation should be placed in an electronic system that is secure and protected, but with easy access for use in evaluation of the student’s placement and progress.

All special educators should have immediate access to communication equipment so they can readily ask for more support in any emergency situation.
The special education goes beyond the school system. The school system, parents, community organizations, federal agents, and the county’s health department work together to provide students in need wraparound services. The school system should frequently seek the feedback from special education educators to make continuous improvements to the programs.