Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to Deal with Snow - Lessons from Baltimore Educational Elite

This blog previously reported that Nancy Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools, plans to waive the 180 day requirement for the K-12 educational programs under her supervision. According to the Gazette, Dr. Grasmick says we need to be "sensitive to the weather." Really? Isn't that why snow days are built into school calendars?

What about concern for the education of the students? What about taxpayers who have paid to support their schools? Why is weather a big surprise?

Those of us who have been in MoCo know that our own Dr. Weast frequently cites Harvard as an example of educational excellence.

So - how does a university show that it is "sensitive to the weather?"

Here is an e-mail sent out to students at Johns Hopkins University. They too have been hit by record snows - and are still digging out much the same as we are in the DC suburbs.

Dear Homewood Students, Faculty and Staff:

Though we've now lost an entire week of classes to the historic back-to-back Blizzards of 2010, the university expects to resume its normal schedule on Monday. To ensure that our students have as complete and rich an academic experience as intended, we now are faced with the question of how to get the semester back on track and make up the lost time. We have consulted with faculty members in the Krieger and Whiting schools, with student leaders and with the various offices that would be affected by a change in the academic calendar. We have now come up with a plan.

We looked at canceling spring break. We looked at scheduling makeup classes in the evenings and on weekends. Both options would be, we feel, far too disruptive.

We have decided instead to extend the semester, compressing some activities so that we can add just a few days to the academic year and can continue with plans to hold Commencement on the long-scheduled date of May 27.

The original schedule for the Krieger and Whiting schools looked like this:

Monday, April 26-Friday, April 30: Last week of classes
Monday, May 3- Wednesday, May 5: Reading period
Thursday, May 6-Thursday, May 13: Examinations (Sunday, May 9, unscheduled =
for use as a "conflict resolution" day)
Thursday, May 27: Commencement

This revised schedule will recapture the lost week of classes:

Monday, May 3-Friday, May 7: Last week of classes
Saturday, May 8-Sunday, May 9: Reading period
Monday, May 10-Sunday, May 16: Examinations (no unscheduled day)
Thursday, May 27: Commencement

By compressing the reading and exam periods, we will delay the end of exams by only three days.

These changes will cause some inconvenience; they may require you to change travel or other arrangements that you thought just a week ago were locked in. But we believe our plan will cause the least possible disruption. Among a number of unappealing alternatives, this, we believe, is by far the most palatable for the most people.

Please note that the Registrar's Office will release a revised detailed examination schedule in the near future. Our thanks, in advance, go to all of you for making this amended academic calendar work in the best interest of our students.

It has been a trying week! Our deepest thanks to everyone who has worked so hard under extraordinary conditions to keep things going and to everyone working now to bring us back toward normal, a state that seemed unimaginable at the height of Wednesday's blizzard.

We particularly want to acknowledge the amazing work of the university's
grounds and custodial crews, everyone in Residential Life, Housing and Dining, and Campus Security, all of whom have made herculean efforts to keep our students safe, secure and comfortable. Thanks also to the Eisenhower Library staff; they went the extra mile to keep the library open when they could and provided services online when there was no choice but to close.

Let us suggest that when you see any of these hard-working Johns Hopkins employees over the next few days, you add your own personal word of thanks to them. They deserve it!


Adam F. Falk
James B. Knapp Dean
Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Nicholas P. Jones
Benjamin T. Rome Dean
Whiting School of Engineering

Read the email carefully. It's not just sensitivity to weather. JHU administrators are interested in delivering a "complete and rich" educational experience, even if the alternatives may be an inconvenience to some.

Funny, we have our own yardstick of educational excellence right in our own backyard. It's just up Charles Street from Dr. Gramick's office.  Aren't our youngest children also entitled to a complete and rich academic experience?   Let's not forget that a significant portion of MCPS kids are on free and reduced meals - and don't get fed every day school isn't open.   Or is the MSDE motto that "Achievement Matters Most" only limited to a pretty image on their webpage?

No comments:

Post a Comment

If your comment does not appear in 24 hours, please send your comment directly to our e-mail address:
parentscoalitionmc AT