Monday, February 28, 2011

TBD News: Cell Tower for Sligo Middle School and Oakland Terrace Kingergarten

County Council Town Hall Meeting March 2 Westland Middle School

The Montgomery County Council will be holding a Town Hall meeting this Wednesday, March 2.  This will be the second Town Hall Meeting in 2011, and it will be held at the Westland Middle School (5511 Massachusetts Ave.) beginning at 8 p.m. with a pre-meeting reception at 7:30. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions in an organized, but informal, setting.
The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM--cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-7931.
Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair, Montgomerty County Civic Federation

Charter School Applicants Seek Judicial Review of MD State Board of Ed. Appeal Decision

Contact:  Ashley Del Sole, Global Garden Public Charter School, Inc. ~ ~ (240) 498-2286

Montgomery County Public Charter School Applicants Seek Judicial Review of Maryland State Board of Education Appeal Decision

Montgomery County, MD, February 28, 2011 – On Thursday, Feb 24, Global Garden Public Charter School, Inc., filed a petition for judicial review in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County of the Maryland State Board of Education Opinion 11-01, released January 25.  Global Garden had appealed the June denial of its application to open Montgomery County’s first public charter school.
According to that unanimous opinion, the Montgomery County local Board of Education erred in denying Global Garden’s application. In a strongly worded decision, the State Board of Education asserted that the Montgomery Board's resolution to deny was inadequately articulated and that in several ways the review process was ill-conducted and subject to bias.
However, despite reversing and remanding the case “so that the local board may reconsider its decision in light of the rulings we have made in this case,” the State Board has declined to provide any more specific guidelines for this reconsideration.  Global Garden believes that the State Board’s rulings include a requirement for charter school applicants to receive meaningful technical assistance, substantive feedback, and the opportunity to cure deficiencies in the application, and that it intended the Montgomery Board to use the 90 days allotted to provide some of the procedural benefits it previously denied Global Garden.
The Montgomery Board, in contrast, has indicated that it intends merely to elaborate in writing its reasons for its decision. To date, despite a letter to MCPS and the Montgomery Board intended to initiate dialogue immediately following the Opinion on January 28, Global Garden has not been contacted directly by any member of MCPS staff or of the Montgomery County Board of Education. 
 Both groups have written to the State Board in an attempt to gain some further direction on what steps it intended would be taken.  In each case, the President of the State Board, James H. DeGraffenreidt, has responded briefly to state that “[t]he purpose of the remand was to require the local board to provide a legally supportable rationale for its decision or, alternatively, to grant the charter if its review reveals that there is no legally supportable rationale for denying the charter.” (Letter to Global Garden counsel, Feb. 24, 2011, attached)
Meanwhile, MCPS has established a revised public charter school application process which would require Global Garden to submit a new application by April 1, 25 days in advance of the 90-day deadline for the Montgomery Board to conclude its “reconsideration.”  In his letter, Mr. DeGraffenreidt suggests that “Global Garden may choose to submit an application…in the next round of charter school application review in Montgomery County.”  Rather than submit a new application for review under a flawed process that limits technical assistance to the presubmission period and excludes any opportunity to cure deficiencies, Global Garden has opted instead to seek judicial review of the State Board’s decision.
It hopes to establish that in cases where the local board fails to carry out its responsibility to provide a fair review, “The secondary public chartering authority for the granting of a charter shall be the State Board acting in its appeal review capacity”  (§9–103 Maryland Public Charter School Law, 2003).  Without judicial or legislative intervention to strengthen both State Board authority and local board accountability, charter school applicants are doomed to repeating a cycle leading to endless appeals, not innovative educational options.  Coincidentally, a bill has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly (HB 1067) to clarify that the Board can and should conduct a review of a denied application on its merits and can order the local board to grant the charter if warranted.
 “We were pleased that the State Board expressed such strong support for a fair process in their unanimous Opinion, but in the end, Global Garden has nothing to show for its win,” says Ashley Del Sole, Global Garden Founding Board member.  “So far our application has never received a thorough, unbiased review on its merits, and that’s all we’ve ever asked for.”

Wayne Goldstein's advocacy to preserve the trees next to McKenney Hills Elementary School site


What would Wayne do? 

What would community activist Wayne Goldstein do if he thought that the forest that he advocated to preserve might be in jeopardy?  

Will the Board of Education plans for tripling the size of the school on the McKenney Hills site adversely impact the Legacy Open Space forest that Mr. Goldstein sought to preserve for future generations? 

What would Mr. Goldstein say today if he knew that less than 4 years after this forest was designated as a protected area that Board of Education plans could cause the destruction of 90 to 120 trees on the slopes that lead to the forest he worked to preserve, eroding the soil and placing the protected forest in serious jeopardy? 

Mr. Goldstein was a tireless advocate on land use issues including the preservation of green spaces in the county. One of the properties that Mr. Goldstein worked to preserve is the forest that runs along part of the McKenney Hills Elementary School site in Silver Spring. 

On December 20, 2007, the Montgomery County Planning Board approved the plan to purchase 7.15 acres of forest on the border of the McKenney Hills Elementary School site through the county's Legacy Open Space program. The cost to the County of this land was $1,285,000.  Mr. Goldstein was at the Planning Board hearing to make sure the purchase was approved. 

Here is the audio of the Planning Board voting to approve this purchase and the statement of the late Wayne Goldstein.  Click play:

$38,570 Report Trashed - Community Tricked

3/2/11 UPDATE: MCPS' Public Relations Department has now confirmed via a press release that the new McKenney Hills Elementary School will open with space for 640 students, not the 550 planned for in the Feasibility Study below (See page 1. Core capacity refers to the size of the gym and cafeteria to support student use at a future date. The future is now for this elementary school! 640 is the MCPS number, but under State capacity guidelines the new building will be able to support upwards of 700 students.) 

Classrooms that were shown as empty shells on the Feasibility Study below will now be built out under the new plans, thus increasing the classroom capacity of the new school building. Thanks to the MCPS PR Department for confirming that the Feasibility Study plans have been changed.

What's $38,570? Nothing to the Board of Education.

$38,570 is what the Board of Education spent on the June 2009 Feasibility Study shown below for the McKenney Hills Elementary School site.  (The document is in three parts, it's a big document! This document is not available on the MCPS website but was obtained via a Maryland Public Information Act request.)

The Feasibility Study that the Board of Education ordered called for an elementary school for 552 students and a 57,035 sq. ft.* building. Architecture, Inc. was to be paid $38,570 for this study. Meetings were held. (See the list of PTAs, neighbors, parents, community members and a Maryland State Department of Education official that met to plan this building in the Feasibility Study below.)  All those people were given Educational Specifications for the site that showed that the Board of Education was building a school with a student capacity of 550 for the McKenney Hills site. 

But they aren't. 

The Feasibility Study plans for the McKenney Hills site were tossed in the trash. 

A new architect was brought in and the elementary school was super-sized to hold upwards of 734 students in a 95,475 sq. ft. building!

The $38,570 Feasibility Study and the months of meetings and plans that went in to creating this report were discarded without a word from the Board of Education. 

The original McKenney Hills school building was 29,278 sq. ft. 

The Feasibility Study for this site called for planning for a school of 57,035 sq. ft.*

But the Board of Education is actually building a school that will be 95,475 sq. ft.

You can bet some trees are going to pay the price for these changes to the original school site, and that it will be quite a surprise for the neighbors that attended meetings to plan a 57,035 sq. ft.* school building for 550 students. 

*Per page A-6 of Feasibility Study under Educational Specifications for this project.

McKenney Hills Traffic Study (March 3, 2010) stated that the school will serve 640 students.


Part 2 of McKenney Hills discarded Feasibility Study

Part 3 of McKenney Hills discarded Feasibility Study

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Palo Alto Online : Op-Ed: PAUSD needs new leadership

Palo Alto Online : Op-Ed: PAUSD needs new leadership

In early 2008, Kevin Skelly, then the new superintendent of PAUSD, reversed an earlier decision by the district and entered our high schools in the Newsweek "Challenge Index." The index is simple: It's the number of AP tests divided by the number of graduating seniors. Palo Alto had opted out of participating in the 2007 ranking.

According to Scott Laurence, a former principal at both Paly and Gunn, the contest would yield only "increased pressure on already stressed out students." Skelly did not share the concern about stress, deciding instead to advertise how our kids "stack up" against others. He wanted to "let folks know how good the Palo Alto schools are."
continues here.

Alert on Rewrite of the Housing Element (Chapter) of the General Plan

I am passing this (below) on from Jim Humphrey, of the Montgomery County Civic Federation
Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation

Your action needed to help protect Montgomery County's residential neighborhoods

The County Council's PHED (Planning, Housing, and Economic Development) Committee has scheduled worksessions for March 7 and 14 to consider a draft revision of the Housing Element of the General Plan. The draft revision would remove strategies that currently exist in the Housing Element which are designed to preserve and protect residential neighborhoods in the county, and the draft would recommend allowing accessory apartments in residential zones by-right (rather than by current Special Exception process which lets neighbors and community groups weigh-in).

Please send an email right away to PHED Committee members (no later than Friday, March 11) -- subject: "Draft Revision of the Housing Element of the General Plan" -- and urge them to:
 - retain the neighborhood protection strategies currently in the Housing Element of the General Plan (i.e.; channel through traffic away from residential streets, discourage spill-over parking from non-residential areas, plan uses at the edges of high-density centers that are compatible with existing neighborhoods); and,
- keep accessory apartments by Special Exception.
The email addresses for the 3 PHED Committee members are: (she is Chair of the Committee)

It would be best if we can influence the PHED Committee to recommend changes to the draft Housing Element revision in order to retain the objective of preserving and protecting residential neighborhoods, since the other six members of Council usually go along with the Committee recommendation. But -- if PHED recommends the full Council adopt the new Housing Element as drafted, we will have to mount an effort to persuade the six other members of Council to keep neighborhood protections in the Housing Element.

The last time the General Plan--the overall master plan for the entire county--was revised was in 1993. In mid-2009 the Planning Board transmitted a draft revision of the Housing Element (chapter) of the General Plan to the Council, the body with authority to approve master plan revisions. The Council held its public hearing on the Housing Element draft revision on December 1, 2009. The issue has not yet come up for a Council vote, but now the PHED Committee has restarted work on it with the intention of making a recommendation.

The General Plan is used as a blueprint for all community master and sector plans. If neighborhood protection strategies remain in the General Plan, then that objective must be addressed in all community master plans, too. So it is critical that the objective of preserving and protecting residential neighborhoods is retained in the General Plan Housing Element!

The existing Housing Element from the 1993 General Plan, and the draft revision being considered by Council, can be found via the "Current Issues--Planning and Land Use Committee" page on the Montgomery County Civic Federation website here:

Thank you for taking the time to email your concerns to the members of the Council's PHED Committee. Please forward this message to your friends, neighbors, and local listserv members.

Jim Humphrey
Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation (MCCF) Planning and Land Use Committee

87+/- year old trees to make way for super-sized school

The following comes to us from a member of the McKenney Hills Forest Conservation Group, which has devoted countless hours since September to save the forest surrounding the site of the former McKenney Hills Elementary School.  

MCPS, in a belated response to overcrowding at Oakland Terrace ES in Kensington and other elementary schools, designed a school for three times the number of students compared to the school that stood on the site (until they razed it to the ground last year).  As a consequence, MCPS had asked the M-NCPPC Planning Board for permission to expand the site by cutting 90 - 120 trees on slopes that M-NCPPC staff describes as "steep and highly erodible".  

If you have Google Earth on your computer, enter the location of the school (2600 Hayden Drive Silver Spring MD 20902) to see the site and surrounding forest, all of which belongs us, the citizens of Montgomery County.

The image in this blog post is of the McKenney Hills site taken from the location of the former school. The former school was demolished in 2009. The trees shown in this photograph are the ones along the part of the site that borders the Legacy Open Space land that the late Wayne Goldstein worked to protect.  

Here's an update on how the Board of Education tricked the community into thinking that a smaller school would be built on this site.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wash Post to Fed Workers: Drop Dead

As someone who works with the federal government, as do many of my neighbors, imagine my surprise to pick up yesterday's Washington Post 'Express' and see this headline: 'What Shutdown? Wondering what you'll miss if Congress can't reach a deal on the spending cuts? The answer: not much.'

Wow! how about a paycheck? how about that mortgage payment? the daycare payment? groceries? miss much? Not sure which editor was asleep at the wheel on that one.  So much for the 'hometown newspaper.'

Let's reverse the headline.  Let's see...if we cancel our WashPost subscriptions, how much will we miss? Answer: not much.  Lots of other great choices here in the DC area.  And what about those courses our kids take at Kaplan, which is what keeps the Post afloat financially.  What if we switch to the Princeton Review, or one of the many other private companies offering tutoring for SATs? What would we miss? Again, not much.

So, how about it folks.  To drop your subscription to the Post, call 202-334-6100.  And, forget about those Kaplan tutors.  We have plenty of choices in the Washington area for first-rate tutors and SAT prep classes.

Miss the Post? not much.

Weast's Red and Green Zones

When Superintendent Jerry Weast is on the road here is how he presents Montgomery County. (See image at right.)

But back here in MCPS land, most parents don't know if their school is in the "red zone" or the "green zone". The question is often asked, what are the red and green zone schools?

The lines on Superintendent Weast's map show the boundaries for elementary schools. The red and green zones only refer to elementary schools and the differences in funding they receive. 

In MCPS schools are referred to as "focus" and "non-focus" schools instead of red and green zone schools.  The MCPS Schools at a Glance publication details which elementary schools are the 66 "focus" elementary schools receiving "focus" funding. In the box labeled School Programs, on the Schools at a Glance page for each elementary school, there is a notation that says Focused Academic Support and then the source of the funding for this support is noted. 30 Focus elementary schools are shown as receiving Title 1 Funds and the other 36 as receiving Local Funds to support their programs.

The 66 MCPS Elementary Schools with Focused Academic Support as of the 2009-10 school year are shown on the list below in red:

Arcola, 1820 Franwall Ave , Silver Spring 20902 
Ashburton, 6314 Lone Oak Dr , Bethesda 20817  
Bannockburn, 6520 Dalroy Lane , Bethesda 20817   
Lucy V. Barnsley, 14516 Nadine Dr , Rockville 20853  
Beall, 451 Beall Ave , Rockville 20850  
Bel Pre, 13801 Rippling Brook Dr , Silver Spring 20906  
Bells Mill, 8225 Bells Mill Rd , Potomac 20854  
Belmont, 19528 Olney Mill Rd , Olney 20832  
Bethesda, 7600 Arlington Rd , Bethesda 20814  
Beverly Farms, 8501 Postoak Rd , Potomac 20854  
Bradley Hills, 8701 Hartsdale Ave , Bethesda 20817  
Broad Acres, 710 Beacon Rd , Silver Spring 20903 
Brooke Grove, 2700 Spartan Rd , Olney 20832 
Brookhaven, 4610 Renn St , Rockville 20853 
Brown Station, 851 Quince Orchard Blvd , Gaithersburg 20878 
Burning Tree, 7900 Beech Tree Rd , Bethesda 20817 
Burnt Mills, 11211 Childs St , Silver Spring 20901 
Burtonsville, 15516 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville 20866   
Candlewood, 7210 Osprey Dr , Rockville 20855 
Cannon Road, 901 Cannon Rd , Silver Spring 20904 
Carderock Springs, 7401 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda 20817   
Rachel Carson, 100 Tschiffely Square Rd , Gaithersburg 20878 
Cashell, 17101 Cashell Rd , Rockville 20853 
Cedar Grove, 24001 Ridge Rd , Germantown 20876 
Chevy Chase, 4015 Rosemary St , Chevy Chase 20815 
Clarksburg, 13530 Redgrave Pl , Clarksburg 20871 
Clearspring, 9930 Moyer Rd , Damascus 20872 
Clopper Mill, 18501 Cinnamon Dr , Germantown 20874 
Cloverly, 800 Briggs Chaney Rd , Silver Spring 20905 
Cold Spring, 9201 Falls Chapel Way, Potomac 20854   
College Gardens, 1700 Yale Pl , Rockville 20850 
Cresthaven, 1234 Cresthaven Dr , Silver Spring 20903 
Capt. James E. Daly, 20301 Brandermill Dr , Germantown 20876  
Damascus, 10201 Bethesda Church Rd , Damascus 20872  
Darnestown, 15030 Turkey Foot Rd , Gaithersburg 20878  
Diamond, 4 Marquis Dr , Gaithersburg 20878  
Dr. Charles R. Drew, 1200 Swingingdale Dr , Silver Spring 20905 
DuFief, 15001 DuFief Dr , Gaithersburg 20878  
East Silver Spring, 631 Silver Spring Ave , Silver Spring 20910   
Fairland, 14315 Fairdale Rd , Silver Spring 20905   
Fallsmead, 1800 Greenplace Terr , Rockville 20850   
Farmland, 7000 Old Gate Rd , Rockville 20852   
Fields Road, One School Dr , Gaithersburg 20878   
Flower Hill, 18425 Flower Hill Way, Gaithersburg 20879     
Flower Valley, 4615 Sunflower Dr , Rockville 20853   
Forest Knolls, 10830 Eastwood Ave , Silver Spring 20901   
Fox Chapel, 19315 Archdale Rd , Germantown 20874  
Gaithersburg, 35 North Summit Ave , Gaithersburg 20877  
Galway, 12612 Galway Dr , Silver Spring 20904  
Garrett Park, 4810 Oxford St , Garrett Park 20896  
Georgian Forest, 3100 Regina Dr , Silver Spring 20906  
Germantown, 19110 Liberty Mill Rd , Germantown 20874  
William B. Gibbs, Jr. 12615 Royal Crown Dr , Germantown 20876  
Glen Haven, 10900 Inwood Ave , Silver Spring 20902 
Glenallan, 12520 Heurich Rd , Silver Spring 20902  
Goshen, 8701 Warfield Rd , Gaithersburg 20882  
Great Seneca Creek, 13010 Dairymaid Dr , Germantown 20874  
Greencastle, 13611 Robey Rd , Silver Spring 20904  
Greenwood, 3336 Gold Mine Rd , Brookeville 20833  
Harmony Hills, 13407 Lydia St , Silver Spring 20906  
Highland, 3100 Medway St , Silver Spring 20902  
Highland View, 9010 Providence Ave , Silver Spring 20901   
Jackson Road, 900 Jackson Rd , Silver Spring 20904   
Jones Lane, 15110 Jones Lane, Gaithersburg 20878    
Kemp Mill, 411 Sisson St , Silver Spring 20902  
Kensington Parkwood, 4710 Saul Rd , Kensington 20895   
Lake Seneca, 13600 Wanegarden Dr , Germantown 20874  
Lakewood, 2534 Lindley Terr , Rockville 20850   
Laytonsville, 21401 Laytonsville Rd , Gaithersburg 20882   
Little Bennett, 23930 Burdette Forest Rd , Clarksburg 20871   
Luxmanor, 6201 Tilden La , Rockville 20852  
Thurgood Marshall, 12260 McDonald Chapel Dr , Gaithersburg 20878  
Maryvale, 1000 First St , Rockville 20850   
Spark M. Matsunaga, 13902 Bromfield Rd , Germantown 20874   
S. Christa McAuliffe, 12500 Wisteria Dr , Germantown 20874  
Ronald McNair, 13881 Hopkins Rd , Germantown 20874  
Meadow Hall, 951 Twinbrook Pkwy , Rockville 20851  
Mill Creek Towne, 17700 Park Mill Dr , Rockville 20855  
Monocacy, 18801 Barnesville Rd , Dickerson 20842  
Montgomery Knolls, 807 Daleview Dr , Silver Spring 20901   
New Hampshire Estates, 8720 Carroll Ave , Silver Spring 20903  
Roscoe R. Nix, 1100 Corliss St , Silver Spring 20903   
North Chevy Chase, 3700 Jones Bridge Rd , Chevy Chase 20815  
Oak View, 400 East Wayne Ave , Silver Spring 20901  
Oakland Terrace, 2720 Plyers Mill Rd , Silver Spring 20902  
Olney, 3401 Queen Mary Dr , Olney 20832  
William Tyler Page, 13400 Tamarack Rd , Silver Spring 20904  
Pine Crest, 201 Woodmoor Dr , Silver Spring 20901  
Piney Branch, 7510 Maple Ave , Takoma Park 20912  
Poolesville, 19565 Fisher Ave , Poolesville 20837  
Potomac, 10311 River Rd , Potomac 20854   
Judith A. Resnik, 7301 Hadley Farms Dr , Gaithersburg 20879  
Dr. Sally K. Ride, 21301 Seneca Crossing Dr , Germantown 20876  
Ritchie Park, 1514 Dunster Rd , Rockville 20854  
Rock Creek Forest, 8330 Grubb Rd , Chevy Chase 20815  
Rock Creek Valley, 5121 Russett Rd , Rockville 20853   
Rock View, 3901 Denfeld Ave , Kensington 20895   
Lois P. Rockwell, 24555 Cutsail Dr , Damascus 20872  
Rolling Terrace, 705 Bayfield St , Takoma Park 20912  
Rosemary Hills, 2111 Porter Rd , Silver Spring 20910  
Rosemont, 16400 Alden Ave , Gaithersburg 20877   
Sequoyah, 17301 Bowie Mill Rd , Derwood 20855   
Seven Locks, 9500 Seven Locks Rd , Bethesda 20817   
Sherwood, 1401 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd , Sandy Spring 20860   
Sargent Shriver, 12518 Greenly Dr , Silver Spring 20906   
Sligo Creek, 500 Schuyler Rd , Silver Spring 20910   
Somerset, 5811 Warwick Pl , Chevy Chase 20815   
South Lake, 18201 Contour Rd , Gaithersburg 20877   
Stedwick, 10631 Stedwick Rd , Gaithersburg 20886   
Stone Mill, 14323 Stonebridge View Dr , North Potomac 20878   
Stonegate, 14811 Notley Rd , Silver Spring 20905   
Strathmore, 3200 Beaverwood Lane, Silver Spring 20906    
Strawberry Knoll, 18820 Strawberry Knoll Rd , Gaithersburg 20879   
Summit Hall, 101 West Deer Park Rd , Gaithersburg 20877  
Takoma Park, 7511 Holly Ave , Takoma Park 20912  
Travilah, 13801 DuFief Mill Rd , Gaithersburg 20878  
Twinbrook, 5911 Ridgeway Ave , Rockville 20851  
Viers Mill, 11711 Joseph Mill Rd , Silver Spring 20906  
Washington Grove, 8712 Oakmont St , Gaithersburg 20877  
Waters Landing, 13100 Waters Landing Dr , Germantown 20877  
Watkins Mill, 19001 Watkins Mill Rd , Montgomery Village 20886  
Wayside, 10011 Glen Rd , Potomac 20854  
Weller Road, 3301 Weller Rd , Silver Spring 20906  
Westbrook, 5110 Allan Terr , Bethesda 20816  
Westover, 401 Hawkesbury Lane, Silver Spring 20904    
Wheaton Woods, 4510 Faroe Pl , Rockville 20853  
Whetstone, 19201 Thomas Farm Rd , Gaithersburg 20879  
Wood Acres, 5800 Cromwell Dr , Bethesda 20816  
Woodfield, 24200 Woodfield Rd , Gaithersburg 20882  
Woodlin, 2101 Luzerne Ave , Silver Spring 20910  
Wyngate, 9300 Wadsworth Dr , Bethesda 20817 

Friday, February 25, 2011

MCPS Superintendent slate to be presented in late March

According to the Superintendent search firm (paid for with your tax dollars), the slate of candidates for MCPS Superintendent will be presented in late March. 

Presented? Who gets to see that presentation? 

Will the public ever be shown the list of candidates as is done in other jurisdictions? 

Will the public ever get to attend interviews of the candidates as is done in other jurisdictions? 

SCO: Diesel exhaust filters installed on MCPS buses

Silver Chips Online:  Intercounty Connector prompts environmental awareness on local highways
MCPS has installed diesel exhaust filters on 70 MCPS buses in order to enforce the 2008 settlement with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and to meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines for improved air quality in the local Washington D.C., area. The settlement additionally entailed the construction of an air quality monitor near the Capital Beltway, which would be able to provide the first hard data on the highway's pollution levels over the course of three years...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

SCO: USDA revises school lunch nutrition standards

Silver Chips Online:  
MCPS has always followed the Institute of Medicine recommendations that the USDA used to create its new guidelines, according to Marla Caplon, director of the MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services. Thus, Caplon said that there would only be a few minimal changes made to MCPS’s meal plan. One of these changes would require that fruit be eaten at breakfast by obliging students to take one-half cup of fruit at breakfast.

article continues here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Barclay Board wants another cell tower compound at a Silver Spring school

Just for the record, there are 7 public schools in Silver Spring (Down County Consortium, Blake and Springbrook) that have cell tower compounds on their playgrounds. Please note that cell tower compounds are HAZMAT locations and must be registered with the Montgomery County fire department. 

How many cell phone towers are there at schools in the Whitman Cluster? Churchill Cluster? Wootton Cluster? Richard Montgomery Cluster? Zero*. The Whitman, Wootton and Richard Montgomery Clusters have said "no" to cell tower compounds being installed at public school sites. The Churchill Cluster has never been asked to install a cell tower compound. 

And the Board of Education under President Christopher Barclay wants one more cell tower compound on a Silver Spring - Down County Consortium playground...

Gazette: Residents upset over proposed cell tower at Sligo Middle School site

Neighbors say T-Mobile tower will lower property value

...They said they didn't receive notice of opportunities for public comment until December, years after the application process started.
"I didn't hear anything from T-Mobile, I didn't hear anything from the county, it was a piece of paper from my neighbor that alerted me," said Julia Wisniewski, a resident of nearby Gridley Lane in Silver Spring, referring to a note from a concerned neighbor.
Neighbors said around Christmas, they were given a notice of the special exception hearing...
..."We can't lease out our backyard if we're having financial woes, so why can MCPS do that?" asked Andrea Crenich, 41, of Gridley Lane. "The whole point of zoning laws is to protect property values of the homes in an area. ... Would you buy a home that backs up to a 130-foot cell tower with an 8-foot chain-link fence and chopped down trees?"


* Since the Board of Education has not made public a comprehensive list of school properties with cell towers installed, the Parents' Coalition looks forward to a MCPS Public Relations release listing all of the locations of cell phone tower compounds at all public school properties in the County, along with a list of the co-locations of vendors at each location.

Getting a little bit closer to you on election day!

Here's the list of Delegates who have voted to get closer to you on election day!  Read our previous post on this special legislation just for Montgomery County.


Delegate Proposes to Ban Cell Towers on School Property

In Prince George's County, Delegate Jolene Ivey has proposed legislation to prohibit wireless telecommunications towers on public school property. 

The bill is PG 404-11.

Congratulations to Delegate Ivey for reminding everyone that public school land is dedicated for the use of public school children. HAZMAT facilities on a playground are really no fun for kids. 

PG 404-11

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

" guarantee that technology purchased today would be relevant a year from now..."

Gazette: Digital ‘techbooks' gain traction in schools, but MCPS not ready to ditch the paper trail

...Brown said there are no big savings incentives in making the transition from textbooks to digital techbooks. The school system would have to regularly pay for updates, and with technology changing so rapidly, there's no guarantee that technology purchased today would be relevant a year from now, she added...

Monday, February 21, 2011

U.S. News to Survey Teacher Prep Programs: Data available Spring 2012

“It is time to start holding teacher-preparation programs more accountable for the impact of their graduates on student learning,”  Arne Duncan Secretary, Department of Education

On January 20th U.S. News & World Report announced it plans to survey teacher prep programs nationwide, in partnership with the non-profit National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The methodology to be used was developed by NCTQ.
“We want to know what teachers are being taught,” said Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News. “We’re partnering with NCTQ because they’ve developed a great methodology to look deeply into these important institutions and compare them across the country.”

U.S. News and NCTQ will award grades to each of the programs under review. They will identify the top schools of education in the country as well as the institutions whose program designs fall so far below standard that they leave their graduates ill equipped to teach.

Programs will be rated by their performance on 17 different standards, which were developed by evaluating the highest caliber research on education, best practices from both the U.S. and foreign countries with excellent educational systems, and the advice of national experts across many subject areas. The standards are calibrated for undergraduate and graduate levels, and can be applied to programs that prepare elementary, secondary and special education teachers.

Program ratings will be derived from a digest of course materials (including course syllabi and textbooks) supplied by education schools themselves, as well as surveys and other publicly available information.
 Read more here.

Some of the response from these higher education institutions is published in an article, Anger Over New Rankings, in ‘Inside Higher Ed.’  You can read the entire article here.  Where did your child's teacher attend college? Find out and let us know here. Post a comment.

Please Give Us More AP (and IB) Data

by Joseph Hawkins

I’m completely sucked in.

I want to see more Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Advanced Placement (AP).  But given the countywide expansion of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program into nearly every county high school, I also want to see IB facts and figures.

Here is some of what MCPS needs to make available for public consumption.

§         AP student enrollment facts and figures: Currently, MCPS shares only facts and figures about AP exam-takers. The problem is not every AP course participant sits for an exam. So, how many students actually enroll in AP course offered by MCPS? How many students never sit for an exam?

§         IB student enrollment facts and figures: The last time MCPS shared information on IB enrollees and IB test performance was January 2006 (MCPS report: An Examination of the Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Exam Results for 2004-2005). Clearly, current facts and figures are long overdue. So, for example, how many IB exams are MCPS students taking now?  How black male students earned an IB diploma? How many MCPS students on FARMS and attending a red zone high school earned an IB diploma?

§         Grades earned by AP and IB students:  It would be outstanding for MCPS to reveal details about how AP and IB students perform. Do students who take an exam have better end-of-course grades than students who do not take an exam? What do the end-of-course grades, for example, look like for black males receiving free and reduced meals (FARMS)?

§         IB program participant cross-overs: I have heard from a few MCPS parents that their IB children not only sat for their IB exams but they also crossed over and sat for a fair number of AP exams. Given the popularity of the IB program in our public county high schools, how common is this practice? When it happens what does performance look like for the IB kids?

§         College graduation rates for AP and IB students: In May of 2010, MCPS released a report that looked at AP exam-takers and college competition (MCPS report: Advanced Placement Examination as a Key to Postsecondary Success). The problem with the report is it combined exam-takers into two groups, those with an AP exam score of 3 or higher and those with an AP exam score below 3. The group with a score of 3 or higher had better college completion rates. In 2008, the College Board performed a similar study (College Outcomes Comparisons by AP and Non-AP High School Experiences—see link below). The College Board study is absolutely full of details while the MCPS study is absent details. In fact, the College Board study underscores the value of showing college competition rates by scores and not combining them into large groups. The graduation rates, for example, are vastly different between high school graduates scoring a 1 and graduates scoring a 2, as well as between graduates scoring a 3 and those scoring a 4 or 5. So, how do MCPS students differ when the details are revealed?

Here is the link to the College Board study: 

Finally, I would highly recommend that readers go to the College Board website and read the above mentioned study. I’m in awe over the level of detail provided by the researchers. The College Board researchers literally throw the kitchen sink at us (sometimes that is a good thing). In the end, assuming one is patient, one understands that saying that an AP exam score of 3 or higher predicts college success comes with a fair number of qualifiers and caveats. Those qualifiers are possible, however, because the College Board researchers showed us the details. And it is the details that many of us want to see when MCPS issues public reports. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MCPS response confirms frequent purchase card rule violations

Chief of Staff Edwards and Deputy Superintendent Lacey among those implicated

Documents obtained this week by the Parents' Coalition confirm that several high-ranking MCPS officials repeatedly violated regulations by using MCPS purchase cards to pay for local restaurant meals that were not related to business travel. MCPS regulations allow employees to use the purchase cards for meal expenses incurred during out-of-state travel on official business, but not for meals and entertainment at local restaurants.

Responding to a request for details about travel and restaurant expense policies, MCPS Public Information Director Dana Tofig wrote "Board of Education (BOE) members, senior executives, and select staff have been issued purchasing cards that may be used for travel and restaurant expenses. Reference in the Purchasing Card User Guide to 'additional instructions under separate cover' pertains to travel policies and regulations approved by the BOE (enclosed)."  Tofig included a copy of MCPS Regulation DIE-RB, "Out-of_State Travel on Official Business", with his response.

Regulation DIE-RB, section D, "Subsistence", allows for reimbursement only for meal costs incurred during out-of-state travel. (A separate document, Regulation DIE-RA, governs travel within the state of Maryland and in the Washington metropolitan area. Regulation DIE-RA makes no mention of reimbursements for meal expenses.)  Purchase card expense logs obtained  by the Parents' Coalition show reimbursement claims for purchases from local restaurants by Chief of Staff Brian Edwards, Deputy Superintendent Frieda Lacey, and several other high-ranking MCPS employees.

According to Tofig, the officials authorized to use their MCPS purchase cards for out-of-state travel and restaurant expenses include the entire Board of Education, Superintendent Weast, and select high-ranking MCPS and BOE staff members.

MCPS Chief Operating Officer Larry A. Bowers determines which BOE members and MCPS employees are allowed to use their MCPS credit cards for travel and restaurant expenses, subject to the rules listed in Regulation DIE-RB.

MCPS Purchasing Card Use

The public's right to know.

Oakton Patch: FCPS, Board to Defend Charges of Violating Open Meetings, FOI Laws

...Daniel Walsch, a spokesman for George Mason University who has worked with FOIA "more than my share of requests over the years," said costs involved "doesn't negate the public's right to know."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"The students who got to attend were handpicked by their principals"

O'Malley Holds Town Hall With H.S. Students - Education News Story - WBAL Baltimore

Secy Duncan, National Ed Leaders Discuss the Future of Labor-Management Collaboration


Click on the above link and you can listen to the telephone call between various leaders reflecting on ideas discussed at the Denver conference. (Minute 23 Duncan mentions MCPS)

Balt. reporter asks for details, school systems not "sharing"

Baltimore Sus - Inside Ed:  Montgomery administrator appointed deputy superintendent in Baltimore County

Renee A. Foose, associate superintendent of the Office of Shared Accountability in Montgomery County, was recently put in charge of the business operations for the Baltimore County school system. Foose's official job title is deputy superintendent. She replaces J. Robert Haines who retired last summer. I asked the county school system for her salary, but I haven't gotten a response. I will post it here when I do. I also asked Montgomery County for a resume for Foose, but so far no response from there either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fairfax County School Board and Officials Subpoenaed

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - Fairfax County, Virginia – Documenting violations under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as continuing to mount, a fourth count has been added to the recent FOIA case against Fairfax County Public Schools and the Fairfax County School Board. The case, filed today in Fairfax County Circuit Court, was temporarily held due to FCPS’ efforts to enter the case in an evidentiary trial rather than a hearing as motioned by the Petitioner.
The David v. Goliath case centers around accountability demanded by the Petitioner, Jill D. Hill, a Fairfax County resident, for an extensive array of Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Law violations by FCPS and the School Board.
Patton Boggs, LLP, counsel for Hill, and FCPS attorneys will appear in the Court’s calendar control Friday morning, February 18th, to set the trial date. Under Virginia law, FOIA cases are required by statute to be heard in seven (7) calendar days. The statute does not permit exceptions for weekends or holidays.
Among those for whom subpoenas were issued in Fairfax County Circuit Court today are school officials:
§  Dean Tistadt;
§  Paul Regnier;
§  Pam Goddard; and
§  Sara Kolb
In addition, the School Board in its entirety were issued subpoenas:
§  Judith Wilson;
§  Jane K. Strauss;
§  Daniel G. Storck;
§  Kathy L. Smith, Chairman;
§  Patricia S. Reed;
§  James L. Raney;
§  Ilryong Moon;
§  Martina Hone;
§  Stuart D. Gibson;
§  Sandra S. Evans;
§  Brad Center, Vice Chairman; and
§  Elizabeth Torpey Bradsher
 Code excerpt with code citation:

For more legal information, please contact plaintiff’s attorney:

            MGuiffre @
2550 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
T: 202-457-6441  F: 202-457-6315