Arvin Kim elected Student Member of the Board

Seyun Park

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Ely Snow

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Whitman junior Arvin Kim won the April 20 SMOB election and will serve as the 45th MCPS SMOB.

Whitman junior Arvin Kim was elected student member of the board (SMOB) on April 20, following a county wide election of sixth through 12th graders. Kim, who had run against Einstein junior Baba Cisse, won 58.7 percent of the vote.

Kim is the Chief of Staff of the Montgomery County Regional SGA, and has been involved in numerous organizations such as school SGA, MoCo Pride Youth, Maryland Association of Student Councils and the Asian American Progressive Student Union.

The Student Member of the Board, or SMOB’s, role is to represent the students of MCPS as the eighth representative on the Board of Education. In Montgomery County, the SMOB has the same full voting rights as the other adult members, so Kim will act as a full board member. Montgomery County is one of two Maryland counties to have this.

Kim’s platform includes universal access to courses through the virtual academy, more mental health resources for students and more student voice in decisions. His overall platform included over 200 points touching on curriculum, equity, student support, student voice, student life and facilities.

His extensive agenda ranging from improving school lunches to scheduling weekly mental health days is quite ambitious, and I admire that quality in a leader. I believe Arvin’s experience in student advocacy will help him deliver on the things that he’s promised to push for and help create a better MCPS for us all.

— Poolesville HS Class of 2025 President Jason Liaw

One of the top points of his platform is his plan for universal access to all MCPS courses for all MCPS students. This would be done through dual enrollment; a student would take classes in-person at their home school and take online courses for subjects not offered at their home school.

“Arvin proposed a mix between virtual and non-virtual classes allowing students to access courses not previously available which really connected with how I felt about not being able to take certain courses just because of which school I chose to go to,” freshman Max Greenbaum said.

Cisse, who is the Downcounty Consortium Cluster Liason for the SMOB Advisory Council, and Vice President of his class at Einstein, won 40.8% of the vote.

Cisse had centered his campaign around representing all students in MCPS, even those who didn’t always have their voices heard. During the SMOB nominating convention, Cisse had emphasized the idea that many county wide student groups such as Montgomery County Regional SGA, had been exclusive and foreign to him and his peers.

Others echoed a similar idea that SMOB was an elitist position that was hard to attain for many people in less represented parts of MCPS.

Arvin Kim, just like Hana O’Looney, does not seem to, in any way, represent the students from my part of MCPS. Only students from rich parts of the county have the time to run for Student Member of the Board.

— Blake HS sophomore Foster Samels

According to MCPS data from the 2020-21 school year, Blake HS is 41.4% Black and 29.8% Hispanic, with only 15.3% of its population being white. Einstein HS, similarly, is a majority minority school; its student population is 17.5% Black and 47.7% Hispanic, with a white population of 24%. In contrast, Whitman HS is 64.5% white and 14% Asian, with less than 5% of its population being Black students.

“Many of those [SMOB candidates] have the luxury of being able to take time outside and during school hours to be able to build a network, delegate meetings and have a huge support system. We have to worry about work, family and younger siblings to take care of and being able to pass classes,” Gaithersburg High School group “Trojans for Immigrant Rights” commented on Instagram.

Despite the loss, Cisse has committed to continuing his advocacy.

“The election wasn’t in our favor but I personally will keep working with students on a whole new level […] I will personally keep fighting for your rights as hard as I can,” Cisse said in an Instagram post.

Kim will begin his term, succeeding current SMOB Hana O’Looney, on July 1.