Thursday, February 18, 2010

That was then: this is now

Montgomery County middle schools score poorly on tests | Washington Examiner

A blast from the not-so-distant past (August 09): in the few short years since the Montgomery County Board of Education voted to close the secondary Learning Centers (starting with Middle School), special needs students showed their worst performance on state tests yet. Many members of the current Board of Education share responsibility for this performance, as they were on the Board that voted to eliminate the Learning Centers. The Office of Shared Accountability issued a report detailing the numerous problems. The Deputy Superintendent apologized for the way MCPS went about hiding their plans from the disability community.

Now the Board of Education has voted to effectively eliminate the Montgomery Primary Achievement Center, a preschool program for children with disabilities. There was some hand-wringing at the Board table today about "building trust with the community" and "the need for better communication with the community" but they didn't let it get in the way of voting to eliminate another special education program.

But a couple of years from now, there won't be OSA reports or test scores to show that the parents and community members were right all along. These children are young, and don't take the state-mandated standardized tests. Is that perhaps why it was so easy for the BOE to eliminate the program? Because it has no relevance to the "Seven Keys to College Readiness?"

Do children with disabilities matter anymore to the current Board of Education? Or is special education just a vehicle to get federal stimulus money to spend on high-tech gadgets like Promethean Boards under the guise of "Universal Design for Learning?" (which in supreme irony, the BOE opposes being required to implement as an "unfunded mandate!)

Options, fallbacks, choices. Going going gone. The list of disappearing programs lengthens yearly. The number of children pushed into "above-grade-level" math, who are unprepared, correspondingly increases. The public relations budget gets larger and larger, the money spent fighting families of children with disabilities runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Seven Keys are touted as the Educational Holy Grail.

But for those of us with kids that don't fit on the Seven Keys superhighway, we feel like the Board of Education tells us, over and over, that our kids don't matter. Our opinions don't matter. The Board of Education is "offended" by our advocacy.

Who in this county is willing to stand up for children with disabilities, or, alternatively, to sit down with families and listen to what they have to say, and then act on it?

1 comment:

  1. It should be noted that Mr. Kauffman did make a motion to delay the change, but the motion was not seconded. Whether the intent behind the motion was to question the process (no advance notice to the BOE or to the community) or the substance of the change (whether the change is, in fact, a good idea or not), his effort on behalf of the affected families is appreciated.


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