Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The case of the missing half-time teacher

The case of the missing half-time teacher

...While looking over the MCPS web site one evening in January, my wife came across a “Q&A” exchange (between school board members and MCPS staff about the 2010 budget. Question 10 read: “Will the reduction of 8.7 elementary special program teacher positions impact the French Immersion classes at Sligo Creek Elementary School?” The answer — unbeknownst to the school administration until my wife told them about it — was yes, but don’t worry about it too much:

…the larger full immersion programs will each be allocated an additional 1.0 teacher to coordinate the program. Sligo Creek currently is allocated 1.5 extra teachers and .5 will be reduced for FY 2010. This reduction will not significantly impact what is provided to students.

My wife knew better. As sixth grade and a middle school, fully English curriculum approaches, the immersion curriculum takes steps to get its students up to speed in things they’ll be needing soon — specifically, a little help with writing and spelling in English. Since it’s vital that kids expect and get only French language from their regular teachers,** other teachers are needed to fill the English language need; through this year, this was a half time position — the only one she knew of connected to the immersion program. After weeks of questions, it proved this was in fact the cut envisioned by MCPS...

...While there’s quite a bit more to be said about the nontransparent, too clever by half modus operandi of Weast, the MCPS administration, and the Board of Education, that will need to wait for another post. Suffice it to say for now that while Weast’s data-driven approach is laudable — indeed, unavoidable — when it comes to identifying and addressing racial achievement differences that persist in Montgomery County, that’s not all there is to education. A “data-driven approach” won’t capture the data it doesn’t value, let alone evaluate those data...

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Related Parents' Coaltion blog posts here and here.

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