Matthew Molyett endorsed by Howard County Register of Wills Byron E. Macfarlane

“Matthew will be a reliable advocate for equity and inclusion for all our kids. He’ll support our extraordinary educators, and he’ll deliver us real results – not rhetoric. He’s got the right values and he’s got my support.”

Byron E. Macfarlane – Howard County Register of Wills

Upcoming events

My team is in the process of scheduling weekly speaking events through September to discuss a variety of subjects about the school system. Potential topics include supporting students through COVID, educational opportunity gaps, policing of students, supporting student mental health, youth activism, and HCPSS and the climate.

I will be attending a Columbia Democratic Club event on the morning of Saturday, September 5th. I have also declined the invitation by a local blogger to join his Facebook channel. In addition to the timing, the event presented lacked objectivity, format details, and effective moderation. During the primaries the forum in question was unable to present calm, concise, and managed events without interruptions and personal attacks. This September 5th invitation presented no format details beyond “candidate forums / debates similar to what I did in the Primary”. Was the invitation for a candidate forum or was it for a debate? Furthermore, in partnership with a coalition of right-wing organizations, the blogger had attempted to usurp the nonpartisan League of Women Voters as the trusted go-to questionnaire for local elections.

I have engaged the blogger in question multiple times in the past. In February, the forum had offered podcast interviews which would be “super simple and not controversial at all”, but outreach offering a week to meet went unreturned. In July, I attempted to become an advertising partner with the connected blog, following the instructions from a June 26th solicitation. Again, the outreach went unreturned. These unresponded communication attempts, combined with information that the organizer was personally supportive of the opposing candidate, gave the impression of a moderator with undisclosed bias that will lack objectivity.

In the end it only required a brief “Respectfully, the Matthew Molyett campaign will be declining this invitation.” for the moderator to drop any appearance of objectivity and announce the intent to begin using the platform to formally endorse. The campaign respects the decision to provide truth and transparency in this platform. Sharing my private communications without prior warning or consent was a breach of trust from someone purporting to be a neutral provider of information. I am now confident that this blogger is no longer an unbiased source of information in the community.

Testimony about Policy 1080: Educational Equity

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. As drafted there is a definition of “Racism – The belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.”

This definition is useless for a governing body, as a belief is unable to be observed, documented, tracked, or improved. Even if this belief were a useful metric or descriptor, it makes racism an intent based label: this definition means that no action or inaction lacking the underlying belief can be a practice of racism. This belief, and the sister belief of “racial separatism”, as written provide cover for abuses rather than providing direction for improvement.

Racism is a thing that happens, it is observable, and it is measurable. It has been performed on this continent for centuries. It is enshrined in the text of the Constitution when it starts out “We the People of the United States … secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves” but then upholds racial based enslavement in Article 6 Section 2. Perpetuating this history of abuse does not require any active belief. Racist ideas are an integral part of our history, one could say they have been stamped from the beginning.

I urge you to instead adopt the definitions offered by Dr Kendi in his explorations of the history of racist ideas.

Racist IdeaAny idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.
Racist PolicyAny measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.

As a school district that desires to embrace our diversity, to be inclusive, and to achieve equity, we cannot punish or marginalize students, educators, or the community for their beliefs. We also cannot accept racism from our students, educators, or the community. These need not be a paradoxical assertion. Racism is not a belief, racism is an action. Thus I offer one more definition:

RacismThe act of supporting a racist policy through action or inaction or expressing a racist idea.

Please use Policy 1080 to position the HCPSS as a bastion against racism. We should not denigrate beliefs, but we should be intolerant of racism. We can do a whole lot of harm without holding the belief of racism while doing a lot of racism. Our school district and each of us individually should strive instead to be antiracist. Racism is not a belief, it is a behavior.

Watch the testimony in full

District 1: From the record

The D1 Incumbent has failed to uphold the values of District 1.

The D1 Incumbent does not Prioritize the Safety of Students and Educators: Through her questions and comments she prioritized the ability of parents to attend work over the health and safety of students and educators with regards to reopening school buildings. On July 16, she alone voted against adopting a virtual delivery model for the first two quarters.

The D1 Incumbent does not Value Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: She has sought to prevent necessary staffing in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and pushed for the elimination of existing staffing. In February 2020 she voted against the budget request for Administration and Student Personnel Services.

The D1 Incumbent does not Stand with our LGBTQ+ Communities: CARY, Community Allies of Rainbow Youth, collected candidate stances with regards to the LGBTQ+ community and she earned an F. Her homophobic harassment of Central Office staff resulted in a lawsuit against HCPSS which ended in a payout settlement of $600,000.

The D1 Incumbent does not Work Respectfully With Others: According to Howard County Office Of Human Rights Investigator Brower, She was found to have targeted the Executive Team and Cabinet staff at the Central Office in Spring of 2017. She was found to have engaged in intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, written conduct, and its electronic communications, which a reasonable person would perceive as intimidating, ridiculing, demeaning and which threatened, and actually induced, a sense of fear in Central Office staff.

The D1 Incumbent fails to Understand the Urgency and Dangers of Overcrowded Schools: Twice in her tenure as board member the Board of Education has attempted to reconfigure attendance areas and both times she was an active obstructionist to lower the excessive concentrations of students in schools such as Centennial High School and Howard High School.

The D1 Incumbent has failed to show a desire to Want to Invest in World-Class Technology: She has voted against the FY 2020 and FY 2018 Operating Budget Information and Network Technology Services Fund. Only once it was presented that the only method of providing education during COVID required purchasing additional technology, even this investment was a “regrettable yes”.

Board of Education: Virtual Fall Reopening

I applaud the Superintendent & Board of Education’s near-unanimous decision last night to commit to a fully virtual first semester back to school this Fall. My opponent was the sole vote against protecting the safety of our students and educators. While this situation is far from ideal for anyone, it is the only safe solution that will not put the lives of our students, educators, parents, staff, family members, and general community at risk, and it is also the consensus the educators themselves have expressed a desire for, as seen by the recent HCEA & MSEA statement.

The available data is overwhelmingly clear: with record new case numbers of COVID in the US everyday, this pandemic is nowhere close to being over. Given these statistics, not only would it be irresponsible to send students back to in-person classes, but it would even be downright dangerous, and would almost surely carry deadly consequences for students and staff. Those in charge of our federal education system clearly do not take the very real threat of Coronavirus seriously, as evidenced by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ recent strong pushes to send kids back to school this Fall, accusing those who are pushing for the safer virtual route of “sowing fear”. It is this unfortunate lack of national leadership right now that demands a responsible, data-driven local Board of Education; One that makes decisions based on science. For this reason, it was very encouraging to see the Board vote 6-1 last night in favor of a fully virtual first semester back this Fall.

However, I would be remiss to not express disappointment in my opponent, being the single “No” vote against assuring our students a safe education this Fall. I wish I could say I was surprised by my opponent’s irresponsible vote last night, but sadly, it’s consistent with a pattern of her aligning herself with the national GOP & DeVos’ anti-science education agenda, even to the point of using very similar rhetoric as DeVos, including a recent comment last week when defending reopening, saying that “we cannot allow fear to guide us”. This is bigger than fear, and this is bigger than politics – this is about protecting the lives of our students, educators, and staff during an international and deadly pandemic that we’re still in the peak of. Please remember what is at stake at the ballot box this November.

HoCo School Interest Forum

Can you describe your current skills, experiences, and attributes that have prepared you for decision-making for our next chapter of education during and after this COVID-19 crisis?

As I write these responses I am listening to the Virtual Town Hall being held by the Howard County Executive and broadcast to us over WebEx. Digital and Distance Learning will remain with us even once the children can return to their classrooms. As a Technical Leader for Malware Research at Cisco, maker of WebEx, I study and respond to the threats that challenge tasks carried out over the Internet. Daily, I am presented with complex opaque problems that must be torn down to the very smallest details to identify patterns and allow me to deduce the big picture. I coordinate with numerous geographically dispersed teams to enable a web of cybersecurity products that handle millions of malicious events and attacks a day.

I have tutored through college, developed from scratch education courses for DHS, and mentored junior professionals into software analysis. Education was the key to my success, and I have worked to pass it along and boost others as well. Serving for HCPSS will be a continuation of the path that brought me to Howard County.

My proven approach to addressing problem solving, professionally, is rapid iterative prototyping. I find solutions and then use data and metrics to improve them. This approach to demonstrable progress toward success will be crucial in the lean budgetary and pedagogical times that will follow this crisis.

Our HCPSS students will be expected to survive and thrive in a world driven by technology and connection even more than their daily education is today. My skills, experiences, and education position me as the ideal candidate to address the challenges that will be posed by our future of technology. My leadership will demand a technologically literate student body and my support for the needs of all our students will never be “regrettable.”

On your website on the post announcing your candidacy you wrote, “I have been asked to serve on the Howard County Board of Education, so as of today I am filed as a candidate.” Who asked you to run for board of education and can you expound on any of your own reasons for running for board of education?

I have made it a priority to build a network that values promoting inclusivity, diversity, and respect in Howard County and Maryland. These friends contacted me in late 2019 about the lack of such priorities in the expected pool of Board of Education candidates. My spouse heard about the suggestion and summarized it to me as “You can’t not run.”

It appeared that if I didn’t run then I would be leaving my three children’s schooling to be directed by a Board Member with a history of verbal and written behavior which is intimidating, ridiculing, demeaning, and threatening to the staff. My wonderful daughter, as proud of being part of the LGBTQ+ community as anyone I’ve ever met, would continue to be in her school system whose leadership was sued for their homophobia. I desire a school system that values the same inclusivity, diversity, and respect that I do.

I am running to ensure that her school values her and values all of her friends. We are made stronger by having, and accepting, members of all racial, religious, ethnic groups as well as diversity of gender and sexual orientation. And so I run.

Please explain social media posts attributed to you that because a child was wearing a camo hat with an American flag you assumed that this child was a racist.

Picture it, West Friendship. August 2019. 92 degrees. Sweating in line for the Ferris Wheel.

I enjoy the fair, it feels like home for me. County fairs, camo clothes, and civic engagement… These phrases really make up a huge part of growing up. Every summer on the way to my Eagle Scout my troop was up before dawn to pull and replace trash bags at our local fair. As did my older brother on the way to his Eagle Scout, and my kid brother on the way to his too. Three Eagles growing up in rural Ohio, destined for service. One is a wounded Army combat medic, I joined the NSA, and my little brother: Fire and Rescue captain.

Three brothers committed to service

Long before a hot evening of standing under the Ferris Wheel, camo was associated with family and with the half empty classrooms on the first day of deer gun season. A decade ago, when the Department of Defense was moving me onto Fort Meade, camo was associated with one brother serving in the US Army and with the country clothes on my kid brother. Camo and the flag, right there on the MPs that greeted me every day when I drove back to my home.

These were my nostalgic memories as I looked out across the line in front of me. Right there at my eye level was a cap that wouldn’t have looked out of place at one of my own sporting events, at the evening races at my old fairgrounds, or even on the head of one of my brothers. Camo and the American flag, a classic pairing.

Camo and the flag

Sadly, it didn’t spark those nostalgic memories because it reminded me of a recent symbol I had seen. It reminded me of the re-election goods being sold to fund the Trump campaign. All of the positive associations of my past were tarnished in that moment as those colors of my childhood instead reminded me of airports full of protesters trying to protect their Muslim neighbors and friends. Those colors reminded me of my own Latinx countrymen being vilified from the President of the United States. That hat suggested to me that the wearer was okay with law enforcement being cheered on to commit acts of brutality against persons in custody. Those reminders, those suggestions saddened me. I know those colors do not actually represent that.

Then the wearer turned. I saw the front of the hat and learned that it was exactly the hat of which I was reminded. My sadness turned to frustration. Standing there, sweating in the 90’s, I was saddened and frustrated. And I shared that frustration with the people I could, all you folks out here. Had he graduated? Was he 29 like my kid brother? I don’t know, but I shouldn’t have been so ambiguous. I felt “kid” was a safe neutral way to refer to someone younger than me.

I have written at length about the intolerance and hate spread by the Trump campaign and presidency. Racism, hatred, and xenophobia have been the foundation of both since the very first speech. Material support given so that movement will continue funds racism, hatred, and xenophobia. The colors of my childhood shouldn’t imply that.

What will you do to balance capacity utilization, so that the schools attended by students from the 1st district are no more overcrowded than any other Howard County schools?

That is a great question. Based on the May 2020 APFO School Capacity projections, District 1 residents will attend just one of six high schools that are not at 114% capacity or more. District 1 students will attend just one of nine middle schools that are not at 102% capacity or more. To cap it off, District 1 will send elementary students to just three of fifteen schools that are not at 100.2% capacity or more.

Those projections are for the 2023 school year, which will be the same year that high school 13 opens. Since that attendance area has yet to be set, I will be on the board that determines the map. One priority I will have in assessing attendance models will be how is Elkridge impacted. Recent schools opened supporting Elkridge, Ducketts Lane Elementary and Thomas Viaduct Middle School, have already been projected for 106.2% and 119.4% respectively. This unsustainable pattern would have Elkridge parents sending their high schoolers to a building in Jessup that will be overcapacity by 2030. This is not okay.

I will work with the Council member from District 1 to coordinate the School System and Council priorities to protect our students. We should have algorithmic models that drive our attendance areas and support predictive modeling that zoning decision makers can use check impacts. This would allow regular rebalancing to guarantee the Centennial-Howard-Long Reach situation doesn’t return. Regular reviews will let us ensure students always finish at the school they started instead of having mid-attendance changes like our current crisis required.

Redistricting and careful zoning doesn’t solve our problems in the future though because we are out of seats, period. I recognize that the next Board will need to work on securing funding and land for additional schools. High school 13 is too far south to provide the support that District 1 requires, maybe we can locate the next within the district. 

As a parent I have experienced the whole gambit discussed here. Ducketts Lane cut pre-K services just as my daughter was starting her third year there, leaving my son to rely on Recreation & Parks. Once we moved it was into the overdue renovation of Dunloggin, a renovation that is looking unlikely to occur any time soon. District 1 needs a champion that has experienced the schools in Elkridge as well as Ellicott City.

Who is Matthew?

You can read a little background about Matthew at the About page

You can read about some concerns Matthew is passionate about on the Issues page

You can read Matthew’s responses to League of Women Voters

Matthew’s responses earned a Grade A from CARY, the Community Allies of Rainbow Youth

You can read Matthew’s responses to The People’s Voice

To ensure Matthew continues to be recognized for his progressive values he made certain to respond to Indivisible HoCo

You can read Matthew’s responses to Start School Later

You can watch Matthew’s video responses from community forums, including the Elkridge Candidate Forum hosted by The People’s Voice and HCCA

You can read the introduction to Matthew prepared for special education candidate forum

Matthew was covered in the Baltimore Sun Voter Guide.