Tudy Adler champions parent voice in school system decisions

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a four-part series describing the four candidates for two at-large seats on the Howard County Public School System Board of Education, up for election this cycle. Other candidates include: Linfeng Chen, Jacky McCoy and Dan Newberg.

A pivotal moment behind Tudy Adler’s decision to run for the Howard County School Board came in the fall of 2020, when multiple motions to resume in-person instruction at schools failed in 4-4 ties.

Adler, 65, a real estate agent who lives in Clarksville, said it was clear the board needed to get students back into classrooms to relieve the pressure. His campaign manager, Traci Spiegel, was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit to limit the voting power of the student council member, who had repeatedly voted against returning in person in 2020.

“There wasn’t enough courage,” said Adler, who says she supported Spiegel’s lawsuit, which was dismissed in March, with that decision reaffirmed in August by the Maryland Court of Appeals. “Part of the decision-making was really putting your finger up and trying to figure out what [choice] was going to be the least controversial.

If elected, Adler, whose two sons attended HCPSS, wants to involve parents more in the decision-making process, from reopening schools to redistricting.

“[Parents] should be included regularly,” she said. “It seems like they’re really pushed to the side now more than I can ever remember.”

For Adler, parental involvement should extend to various LGBTQ issues. She wants to keep certain materials out of HCPSS libraries, including Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer” memoir. The 2019 book, according to the School Library Journal, is “a resource for those who identify as non-binary or asexual as well as those who know someone who identifies this way and want to understand more.” It was named America’s Most Controversial Library Book of 2021 by the American Library Association.

“HCPSS celebrates diversity and strives to provide all students with access to texts that allow them to see themselves and offer insight into the experience of others,” Superintendent Michael Martirano wrote to the school board. in March after the curriculum review committee voted to keep “Gender Queer” in high school media libraries.

“If a young person can find answers in this book, it’s readily available at the public library,” Adler said. “I’m not saying we ban books, I’m saying we need to have standards for K-12 education.”

Adler also thinks the school system should always inform parents of their child’s gender identity.

Although only parents can change a student’s gender identity in official records, according to HCPSS spokesperson Brian Bassett, parental consent is not required for a student to change their presentation name on school documents.

“What happens when parents finally find out their child has changed their name to a different gender ID name by seeing their child’s report card?” Adler said in an email. “It’s not a healthy situation.”

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Adler also wants teachers to feel more comfortable talking about the issues. She argues that promoting a more open environment would go a long way in retaining teachers facing burnout.

“We have teachers who are really uncomfortable letting us know that they’re being told not to share a lot of their opinions,” Adler said. “We need to change that.”

Regarding school safety, Adler supports the introduction of school resource officers in elementary and middle schools, in addition to their current assignments at all 12 high schools and the Homewood Center.

“ORS are essential,” Adler said. “If a situation were to arise, they know the building, they know the infrastructure, they know the students. Sometimes they were the first to call first responders.

Jeremy S. McLain