A former Howard County school board member has joined the race for one of two Board of Education seats up for grabs in a nonpartisan election in November.
West Friendship resident Karen Campbell, who left the school board in 1992 when her six-year term expired, said she still wants to work as an education and children's advocate. She had considered running for the County Council in the 5th District, where she lives.
"After a year off, I really didn't want to do that," the 51-year-old Democrat said. "My heart and my love is invested in the public school system."
Dr. Campbell, a veterinarian, says she is running for the same reason that she said got her elected in 1986. "I believe in public education as a source of informed citizenry," she says. "I think that's what the basis of our democracy is. I want to make a contribution to that."
Dr. Campbell runs a part-time veterinary practice out of her home, on a farm that raises beef cattle and grows Christmas trees. Her four children attended Howard County schools, the youngest graduating in 1991 from Glenelg High School.
She was a member of the county's PTA Council for 12 years before being elected to the board.
Her efforts in the PTA and on the board have included work on committees that revamped the county's science curriculum and dealt with site-based management, which gives schools more control over their own programs.
Dr. Campbell describes herself as a "friendly skeptic, an outspoken person willing to seek public input. That has been my whole focus since I was on the PTA."
While on the board, Dr. Campbell worked to set up the student associate position, which gives students more representation on the board. She also helped start the "no pass, no play" policy, under which high school students must attain at least a C average to participate in extracurricular and sports activities.
Dr. Campbell also helped establish a child abuse prevention curriculum to train teachers on mandatory reporting procedures for suspected child abuse.
She helped start the Educational and Personal Rights Policy, which protects students, teachers and other school employees from being harassed and assaulted based on their religion, nationality, race and other criteria.
"I really felt strongly that those were things I showed leadership in and fought hard for," she says.
She plans to make better teacher salaries a big part of her agenda.
"Second only to student welfare, recognizing teachers is the key to success in our school system," she said.
"We have to pay the teachers enough to attract . . . the best and to keep the teachers [we have]."
Responding to criticism that the Board of Education is not receptive to concerns of parents, she said that parents have opportunities every month to address the board and that they can call members at home.
"I don't know how much more open [board members can be] than that," she said. "For every group that's unhappy with a decision, you have a group that's happy with the decision."
Her only criticism of the board is that she would like a more aggressive membership. "There needs to be someone who is willing to stand up and . . . aggravate people," she said.
Other announced candidates for the school board are Stephen Bounds, a Lisbon resident with three children in the school system; Delroy Cornick, a Columbia resident and retired business management professor at Morgan State University; and Jamie Kendrick, a Howard High School graduate who is attending the University of Maryland College Park.