Graduation and summer break is still months away, but Howard County Board of Education candidate David Gertler hopes students won't be the only ones doing their homework over the next few weeks and months.
This is Gertler's second time running for the board, but he explains his electoral philosophy in anecdotes.
"Last election, I was standing outside a high school handing out my fliers to people. Some of them would take the flier, look at it for a few seconds and then hand it back. On the way out, some of them would point to me and say, 'I voted for you!'"
While he appreciates the votes, Gertler says he wishes people didn't rely on gimmicks or name recognition to make voting decisions.
Every so often, while he was standing outside that polling place, someone would pass by him, refusing to talk because they had already made their decisions.
"I was saying 'Thank you' to those people for actually doing their homework before they showed up to vote," Gertler recently told Patch.
Gertler, a New York transplant, moved to Howard County more than 20 years ago as a krypto mathematician–commonly known as a code breaker–for Fort Meade. He and his wife live in Ellicott City and have had two children in the Howard County Public School System.
Gertler has four degrees, including an MBA from University of Pennsylvania. From there, he began advising Fortune 500 companies on technology investments. Currently, he owns Kryptocore, a technology consulting business, doing just that out of the comfort of his own home.
This focus on mathematics and technology carries over into his philosophy of where he envisions his involvement on the board of education.
"To me, the thought that education is static is a complete fallacy," Gertler said.
He compares the progression from the abacus to the slide ruler and then onto the digital calculator as an example of how the evolution of teaching is nothing new.
In order to maintain a high level of success, Gertler says teachers and administrators must constantly be looking toward ways to improve the curricula–from incorporating new technology to reassessing the value of foundational subjects like mathematical log tables, which have been scrapped since he was a kid.
"Yeah, there's a little bit of loss, because kids don't know how to do log tables anymore…but they don't need that," says Gertler.
He says time spent on learning the intermediary task of creating log tables, for example, is time that could be spent understanding more advanced mathematical concepts with the assistance of a calculator or computer.
But Gertler also says technology will help revolutionize how teachers do their jobs, by making more time for individualized teaching and assessment. A key to that is reducing the amount of time teachers spend doing administrative work–also known as not teaching.
"Think about that–learning at home, learning at a distance, interacting, collaboration, tests that grade themselves, feedback that's individualized to students," Gertler said, listing what he said were examples of the possibilities of teaching with technology. "I think we are just so early in terms of what education is going to look like."
Gertler was one of three challengers recently endorsed by the Howard County Education Association.