Illustration by Kevin Ho
With the way SMOB works right now, we see the candidates everywhere we look in the month before the election. We watch the “Meet the Candidates” video in a darkened classroom and try to ignore the sleeping student next to us, then vote for the student we think wore the better outfit. And then we don’t see our SMOB for another year.
This needs to change. Students need to be more involved with their SMOB and have more opportunities for input.
The fact of the matter is, students aren’t close enough to their SMOB to be accurately represented. There is little to no communication about what our SMOB is doing for us or intends to do to benefit us.
We saw current SMOB Dahlia Huh once last year a week before the election. And then never saw her again.
Students really don’t know what their SMOB is doing on a daily basis, which means that we don’t know if our SMOB is accurately representing the MCPS student body or delivering on what they promised before the election.
For all we know, our SMOB has very little influence on the BOE, given that there are seven adult members on the MCPS Board of Education and only one student member.
According to the MCPS website, SMOB has no voting rights when it comes to boundary changes, capital and operating budgets, negative personnel matters and school closings.
Considering how much finances affect student life, the fact that our SMOB has no final input on issues involving budgets is concerning.
So remember that time students in the arts programs had to keep calm and carry on when budget cuts hit hard? They had to rely on adults looking out for students’ best interests rather than their supposed representative.
From decisions about funneling money into Chromebooks to investing funds in two sets of textbooks to save students’ aching backs, our SMOB has no final say.
According to Huh’s Official SMOB Facebook page, a bill that would have expanded student voting rights was filibustered for five minutes and died on the floor.
In fact, besides free Wi-Fi, what has been done?
And if somehow, something did happen, it’s unlikely we would hear about it.
Despite the weekly posts on Facebook about what Huh is doing at different schools and during BOE meetings, a total of 1,074 students are friends with her on Facebook. Sound like a lot? Think again. It would be wonderful if it didn’t mean that less than one percent of the county is following her.
According to the MCPS website, there are 153,852 students in MCPS, and 45,257 of them are in high school.
Basically, this means that there are roughly way too many students who have no idea what their SMOB is doing. What’s even worse is that students have become so used to not knowing that they’ve stopped caring.
SMOB election days have become nothing more than a hassle for teachers and an opportunity for students to check out.
It’s voter apathy, high school style.
So how can we fix this? Short of forcing students to like the official SMOB Facebook page, there’s not much we can change about how the student body feels towards their SMOB and BOE decisions in general.
So the SMOB needs to change. The student leader needs to let the students know what they can change and then keep them updated. Whether those updates mean weekly visits to schools or monthly videos summarizing BOE proceedings, it’s clear that the student body will remain indifferent until they know exactly what’s going on, how it affects them, and how much influence they really have over BOE decisions.
If SMOB means student member of the board, then something needs to change so that those students are truly represented.