Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Press Release: Montgomery County 11th in Math, 6th in Reading

Contact: Bob Astrove For Immediate Release
July 23, 2008
Results demonstrate a marked decline in MCPS performance

The recently released results on the Maryland School Assessment tests for students in third through eight grades should sound an alarm for our local education system. An analysis by the Parents Coalition of the results on these statewide examinations, across the 24 county school system in Maryland, shows that Montgomery County ranked only eleventh in Mathematics and sixth in Reading. Montgomery County Public Schools has long enjoyed a reputation as the state leader in education yet the results, contained on the following tables as compiled by the Parents Coalition, demonstrate a marked decline in performance for the children of our county.

These recent results do not match the $2 Billion a year investment Montgomery County taxpayers provides to make Montgomery County Public Schools world class.

The Parents Coalition is concerned that the statements by our local education officials appear to be hiding these facts on the performance of our schools from the Montgomery County community.

Turning alarm into action, in order to bring a process to restore our local school system to a leadership position in Maryland, the Parents Coalition will sponsor a forum this fall on Mathematics Instruction.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Weast: MCPS is "Cream of the Crap"

The rapid spread of an e-mail across Montgomery County this week prompted outrage among parents who opened it to learn that school Superintendent Jerry Weast refers to his district as “the cream of the crap.”
The unsavory wording was discovered by members of the Parents Coalition... It was used in a June presentation at Harvard University by Deputy Superintendent Frieda Lacey and several other administrators.
Examiner: Superintendent under fire for comments about district

and additional coverage;

WJLA News Channel 7: Montgomery County Superintendent Makes Crude Comments

Read the full text of Deputy Superintendent Frieda Lacey (p. 5) and Community Superintendent Heath Morrison's (p. 9) comments at Harvard University here or watch the video of the presentation here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Make free public schools part of MCPS Strategic Plan

Testimony to Montgomery County Board of Education
July 15, 2008

The Board of Education’s Strategic Plan is missing a key goal. The Strategic Plan is used by principals to run their schools and to formulate their school improvement plans. It is crucial then that it convey to MCPS administrators the primary purpose of the school system, to fulfill the mandate of the Maryland Constitution to provide a system of free public schools.

Included in the mandate of a system of free public schools is that textbooks, materials of instruction and supplies are to be provided free of charge for use in the public schools.

However, as I have testified to you before, students at Churchill High School have been forced to purchase textbooks when taking certain courses. After last year’s publicity you probably assumed that the practice stopped. It did not. However, I can report that our student did not have to purchase any textbooks this year. Each and every time a teacher attempted to require him to purchase instructional materials; he educated the teacher as to the state law by pulling out a copy of the law from his wallet.

He may have been the only student at Churchill High School who received a free and public education as mandated by state law.

The disregard for this law permits some to charge as much as they like for public school classes.

For example, our student signed up for a Chorus Class as part of Churchill’s Performing Arts Signature Program. The class listing in the course guide made no mention of a class fee. However, in October we received an e-mail listing the names of the families who had already paid the first installment of the $1,120 class fee. The e-mail advised those of us who had not paid yet to write a check for $623.50 (first installment) made out to Winston Churchill High School and mail it to a Jane Kubasik’s house. For your information, that is the name of a parent, not a MCPS employee.

Complaints to the administration about this exorbitant fee fell on deaf ears. These bills had been going out for years and the response was that “we should have known this was the way the class was run”. This $1,120 fee was listed as an “obligation” which meant that to not pay it was to risk our child being banned from activities, performances and being subjected to the withholding of report cards.

I have also attached the quotation from a Maryland Attorney General Opinion in 2003 that states that “schools must be open to all without expense” and that “at the very least ‘anything directly related to a school’s curriculum must be free’”.

Please add a Goal to the Strategic Plan to put forward the mandate of the State Constitution to provide students with a free and public education. Thank you

Janis Sartucci
Montgomery County parent