Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Clemente Middle School Parents Protest Change to GT Program

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  1. And what support has there been for magnet students who can't afford upwards of $1,000 to participate?

  2. @ 9:01

    Can you answer your question? What did happen to students that did not pay the $1,000 (?) class fee?

    At Churchill High School students just don't take the chorus class that costs $1,000. So students are excluded from this public school class based on an illegal fee.

    Does the cost of this trip keep students from participating in the Clemente magnet program?

  3. The entire school year is built around this final trip. It ties together the entire curriculum and gives the students a way to apply many things learned in the year. It motivates the kids in a big way, and they actually apply much of what they learn during the year.

    If a family cannot afford the trip, then the student is not excluded from participating in the program. When my daughter went through the program last year, I believe that every student was able to attend. The program administers are very cognizant of the cost and they work hard to keep the costs low. They also have fundraisers to help supplement the cost to needy families.

    This really is a good program for the kids. To cut it when it doesn't costs MCPS any money seems short-sighted - and silly.

  4. Janis- the prior Center Coordinator established a scholarship fund for field trips and was really good about asking all parents to help subsidize costs for students with lesser means. A combination of rounding up what we pay for our own kids, direct solicitation of donations for scholarships, fundraisers by the students, and fundraisers run by parents and staff have always succeeded in making these trips available to all the Center students.

  5. Stephanie, Thanks. But that's not a free public education for all. Rounding up is not permitted and no parent has to reveal their financial details to any public school staff. The only way students were receiving assistance is because parents were forced to reveal their financial status. That is not making these trips available to "all" to require parents to reveal their financial information. What if a parent does not reveal this personal information? That child doesn't go on the trip.

    All means all. That means all students when they walk in the door are granted equal opportunities to education.

    Field trips that are part of the curriculum are to be paid for by the public school system. That's the way they do it in other Maryland Counties that follow Maryland law. Why not in MCPS?

  6. Janis, I appreciate your argument, but understand that participation to the magnet program is optional. Even if a student is accepted to the program, the parents have to sign-up for the incremental cost that comes with participation. Transportation is the biggest hassle. Parents must arrange for daily pick-up and drop-off from central locations. If a parent can't arrange/afford to do so, then they would choose not to participate and would stay in their home school.

    When leaving middle school, my daughter did not even apply to the HS magnet in Poolesville because of this. We simply didn't feel that the added logistics -- and cost -- was worth the incremental benefit from participating in the program vs our home school. Had we made the *choice* to participate (assuming she was accepted), then we would have accepted the 'costs' associate with the program.

  7. Bruce,

    No optional free public education in Maryland. All public education mandated by the State of Maryland where credit is received is to be provided to ALL students free of charge.

  8. If you argue that taxpayers should pick up $1,000 per student for field trips, chorus dry cleaning, etc., then you guarantee you may as well kiss those enrichment opportunities good bye.

  9. You got it 12:48. It is the law in Maryland that ALL students are entitled to a free public education. Equal opportunity for ALL.

  10. Hi Janis - all magnet and non-magnet students get a free education. I believe the point of this article was to take issue with the $1,000 charge for the 8th grade field trip. This isn't a mandatory trip, and if a student can't participate, their grade is not penalized.

    My point - participation in a magnet program is optional if one is given an invitation to join. The parent and student must accept the special logistics and conditions that come with participation. Still - to my knowledge - there are no extra, mandatory fees with any magnet program.

  11. Bruce,

    There can be no grades associated with these trips. If a student receives a grade for a course activity it must be provided for free. This issue has already been before the State Board of Education.

  12. The tax payers don't pickup any costs from the 8th grade field trip. When a student is invited to the program, this trip - and the cost of the trip - is clearly communicated to the parents so they understand what's available.

  13. You are missing the point. ALL students in Maryland are entitled to a FREE public education. That is their RIGHT under our Constitution.
    Equal access to a free public education is a guarantee of our State law.

  14. Regular and magnet students are given a free education. If a magnet student cannot make the field trip, they still participate in the year-end projects since it covers much more than the trip itself, and their grade is not penalized as a result. That's my understanding based on what they communicated. Your argument assumes a student is required to go on the field trip, or if he/she doesn't, their grade is impacted. If that's your assumption, it's not based on fact.

    That's my last comment.

  15. No. I do not assume the student is required to go on the field trip.
    The field trips are curriculum based. The students that go on the trips get a grade based on their participation, right?

    Just like other Maryland Counties provide Outdoor Education for free to all students because it is curriculum based, the same principle applies to these trips. If it is part of the curriculum it is to be provided to all students for free.

  16. Interesting debate raised by both sides. I think you both are essentially arguing different meaning of the same part of the MD Constitution.

    And this is why courts exist. Eventually the MD Court of Appeals is going to hear a case about interpreting what EXACTLY is required in a free public education (in MD) and what extras, if anything, systems can charge for.

  17. Done.

    In interpreting this provision, the Court of Appeals has said that it "means that schools must be open to all without expense." State of Maryland ex rel. Clark v. The Maryland Institute for the promotion of the Mechanic Arts

  18. The Maryland Attorney General has opined that at the very least "anything directly related to a school's curriculum must be available to all without charge." [Edition] 72 - Opinions of the Attorney General 262, 267 (1987). Affirming the continued applicability of the Constitution and the opinion of the Attorney General, both were cited in opinion No. 03-29 of the Maryland State Department of Education, dated August 27, 2003.

  19. With all due respect, I think your declaration of Done is an oversimplication of a more complex legal issue.

    The case you cite is from the 1800's and largely revolves around the issue of segregated schools. Perhaps not the best precedent for a much more complex education system than existed back then and a MD Constitution that has been amended/changed well over 100 times.

    Yes, the MD Attorney General has issued an opinion, which is PERHAPS limited in scope by "anything directly related to a school's curriculum". This doesn't carry the weight of case law from the Court of Appeals. In the absence of such a ruling this opinion provides legal guidance, but doesn't have the force of law.

    Again, you might be correct, but pending a precedent setting case in MD by the Court of Appeals, it is an interesting legal question and one that carries serious ramifications for public schools.

  20. Sounds like you have been to the Superintendent Jerry Weast school of "we don't follow old laws."

    Laws don't get old.

    You know what caries weight in education law in Maryland? The State Board of Education. Even the Courts defer to the State Board.

    No one needs to wait for another court case. Students in Maryland are entitled to a free public education TODAY.

  21. To be fair, what you cited wasn't a law, it's case law. And the case was mainly about segregation, not school funding.

    The central question is what does a free public education mean? Is everything supposed to be free or are school systems only required to make certain core elements free? Those questions haven't been answered by any court and until they are, it is an open legal question.

    I've acknowledged your interpretation of the MD Constitution and case law could be right. What is so hard about admitting that your opinion might be wrong? What if the Court of Appeals ruled that some "extras" in schools could have fees?

  22. What if donuts fell instead of snow? The law is what it is today. That is what the school system must follow today. The State and AG and Courts have spoken.

    What if the speed limit was 100mph? Should you just drive 100 mph today because you think the speed limit is wrong?

  23. Snow? Donuts? Speed limitis? So much for serious conversation.

    Speed limit laws are clear. When i drive down the road and it says 35 miles and hour that is exact and specific.

    Law is full of nuances. "Free public education" is open to interpretation of exactly what that means.

    I'll pose my question that was answered with a question instead of a statement.

    I've agreed your logic/intepretation could very well be correct. Yet many jurisdictions in Maryland charges extras for something. Isn't it possible that "free public education" might have limitiations just like most other rights have limitiations?

  24. Free public education laws are clear too.

    Sorry, many jurisdictions do NOT charge students to attend public school in Maryland. In Maryland, public schools ARE free.


    Go ask the State Board of Education about this.

    They are doing a review of this issue right now.

  25. Janis, public schools are free - it's field trips that are not free. No jurisdiction charges students to attend public school unless the student lives in another jurisdiction. Attending school and participating in a field trip are not the same thing no matter how much you want to pretend they are. Your logic appears to be exactly the same kind of logic jerry Weast uses when he is bullying people. However, if you care to Look at Outdoor ed since you brought it up... Many students choose not to go on this field trip for many different reasons. Some parents just don't want their children away from home for three days. So using Janis world logic that would mean that if any student couldn't go no matter what the reason - than other students also shouldn't go. It's an enrichment opportunity that does not impact a student's grade. Does it enhance learning - surely. Is it the best three days of school a sixth grader ever has the opportunity to have - possibly- does one have to go on the trip to get the full curriculum for sixth grade - no. It is the same for other enrichment activities such as the NY trip, numerous band trips etc.. My daughter worked diligently to earn the money for her band trip. Same deal - her grade would not be impacted if she did not attend. Was it a great trip - yes. Was she glad she worked so hard to go on it - yes. Did many students and parents choose differently - yes. Janis have you read about all the bullying in the schools - the lack of safety in the schools. Perhaps your outrage would be appropriate if you were discussing how little the system does to keep all of our students equally safe - but your seeming need to ignore basic facts about enrichment opportunities appears to be aimed at making sure that no students can go on field trips. What a great idea.

  26. @11:23 - Public Schools are not free in Montgomery County, Maryland. Again, readers please note that we get comments from all over the country and world. Comments that refuse to identify where they are from are meaningless on this blog. They could be referring to Montgomery County, Ohio, PA or Alabama.

    MCPS parents know that here course fees are charged to attend public school. The Parents' Coalition has been documenting this for over 3 years.


    And we have surveyed Maryland Counties, many provide Field Trips and Outdoor Education for FREE. They aren't different. They are FREE.

    Recently in California the ACLU brought the same concerns forward in a lawsuit and California is now cracking down on public schools that violate the guarantee of free public schools in the state.

    The Maryland State Board of Education is currently investigating the illegal fees charged in Maryland public schools.


    "Maryland has a free public education responsibility," DeGraffenreidt wrote in his one-page letter.

  27. This is ridiculous to some extent to claim "we get comments from all over the world" so anonymous comments mean nothing. If they mean nothing, don't post them and don't allow them.

  28. This is a comment from MoCo MARYLAND. Yes right here in the MoCo this blog is about.

    The poster on 2/19 is 100% correct in my opinion. There is NO WAY MCPS can afford to pay for field trips and Outdoor Education given the current budget. So what's being argued by someone on here is that if these things are not free, they shouldn't be offered. Fine. Cut them! Happy now?

  29. @1:32
    That's so sad. All the other counties in Maryland that spend LESS per pupil than MCPS CAN afford to provide field trips and outdoor education for free. But you are so sure MCPS can't?
    What secret information do you have about the MCPS budget?
    Why do you think that is that MCPS cant' put students first?
    Where is MCPS spending the money instead?

  30. Not sad at all. Just a bit of sarcasm. I'm sure you recognize that Ms. Sartucci.

    County officials have made it very clear they will not fund the budget proposed by Dr. Weast. Nothing secret about that if you've bothered to attend any of the town hall meetings held this month by the OLO and members of the County Council.

    The free public education as you define it has collateral damage attached to it i.e. expansion of programs beyond what is absolutely necessary will be eliminated. You just refuse to acknowledge it.

  31. Sorry, not my definition. It's the law.

    Sad that you are so desperate to deny all children their right to a free public education. Something that children all over the State of Maryland receive. Yet, it is vitally important to you to not let Montgomery County children receive this basic Constitutional right?

    Why? Who do you work for? What's your agenda? Let's start with your real name. Stand up for your position that Montgomery County students should be denied a free public education. Let's hear why you want the Maryland Constitution changed to take away free public education in the State.

    And the writers of this blog are all very aware of the County Executive and Council members statements that the MCPS budget will not be funded. Read our posts. Stalking us is not necessary.

    We have been compiling suggestions for places to cut the budget that will not impact classrooms and children. Read the blog, you'll see what we suggest.

  32. Let's be very clear about the Maryland Constitution's guarantee of a free public education.

    The MCPS budget has been steadily growing for 11 years. Yet, MCPS students have been charged to attend public school classes during that time.

    The money collected by local schools for students to attend public school classes stays with the local school and does not - has never - flowed into the Operating Budget. The fees are not - and have never been - approved by the legislature or the Board of Education.

    The collection of local illegal curricular fees has no relation to the programs, classes or teachers funded by the MCPS Operating Budget.
    Illegal curricular fees are nothing more than a slush fund for the local school. Eliminating those illegal fees would have no impact on the teachers or classrooms available at each local school.

    All students in Montgomery County deserve a free public education. That is what the legislature funds through the collection of our taxes.

    So back to my question, why is it so vitally important for certain individuals - some who work for MCPS - to continue to deny all students access to a free public education?


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