Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Students for Saqib Ali

By Tim Hwang.

In the 2008 Election, unprecedented numbers of youth got involved in the political process to rally around a leader that truly engaged them in the political process - somene that truly valued and weighed their beliefs and opinions as heavily as his own. In these tough times, youth need someone who is willing to stand up for them, casting aside politics, and fight on their behalf even when they have no voice of their own.

Today's youth are facing unprecedented problems in the context of a battered and struggling economy. They face problems of increasing demands in school, an ever decreasing amount of jobs and opportunities in the workforce, and a multitude of other issues as diverse as the county itself. Today's teen has so much on his/her mind (Gangs, Academics, Bullying, Healthcare, Poverty, the Environment) that it can often get overwhelming. Yet, instead of being welcomed by open arms, they have been shut out by the politics of a county and state that continues to operate in the shadows and disrespect the opinions of the student body. In fact, there are those who have even tried to minimalize the student voice in this county as seen by the recent attempt to strip the Montgomery County Student Member of their ability to vote on certain issues and deny their opportunity to be heard (MC 709-07, Requested by Del. Nancy King).

In these difficult times, we need a leader that can stand up for transparency, stand up for the county's largest disenfranchised group, and fight for the futures of every single one of their futures. Saqib Ali has done just that. His work on spearheading increased voting rights for the State Student Member of the Board of Education is a testament to his commitment to youth and his fundamental belief that the system should empower the future of our workforce and our society. His work on protecting youth both in our world-class public schools and in the community and expanding opportunities for students in the workplace while spearheading efforts to offer transparency in Annapolis further exemplify these unwavering ideals.

It was truly a sad day in Montgomery County when the Senate Delegation chose to disenfranchise the student voice by not allowing the Montgomery County Student Member to vote on an expanded list of issues (MC 12-10) even after 30 years of activism and involvement by the students of Montgomery County and overwhelming support from the County (MCEA, Board of Education, MCR, MCJC, etc.). Yet despite the politics and the powerplays of Annapolis, Saqib stayed true to his ideals by not only being an outspoeken supporter of the bill, but also by going above and beyond and co-sponsoring the State Student Member's fight for student rights. He sided alongside a minority in the Senate Delegation not because it was "right for politics" but because it was "right for students". With this determination and commitment in mind, not only am I confident that the Montgomery County Student Member will gain expanded voting rights, but I am confident that the voices of the youth will truly be represented at the State level.

Thomas Jefferson once stated that "Every generation needs a new revolution". The youth of Montgomery County and Maryland need a revolution. They need a revolution for progressive ideals, for new leadership, and for fresh ideas that aren't inhibited by the inner-politics and power struggles of Annapolis. It has been a pleasure to work with Saqib in the House advocating for student rights, and I look forward to seeing him in the Senate as an even more powerful and more outspoken advocate for youth. With this in mind, I wholeheartedly support Saqib Ali for State Senate!

Tim Hwang is the Student Member of the Board of Education.