Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Much Will the Common Core Cost?

States face key spending decisions as they implement the Common Core State Standards, and a new study finds that they could save about $927 million—or spend as much as $8.3 billion—depending on the approaches they choose in three vital areas: curriculum materials, tests, and professional development.
The report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, issued today, examines the net costs of three hypothetical transition routes to the new standards in mathematics and English/language arts.
The “business as usual” approach, which features buying hard-copy textbooks, giving annual paper-based assessments, and delivering in-person professional development to teachers, is the most expensive. Over the next one to three years, it would cost states $8.3 billion, according to the Washington-based think tank...
Real article at this link:  Education Week

Maryland Taxes Spark Largest Exodus of Any State in Region

News Release 5.30.12
Contact: Jim Pettit

Annapolis, MD - Maryland accounted for the largest migration exodus of any 
state in the region between 2007 and 2010, with a net migration resulting in
nearly 31,000 residents having left the state.  Where did most of them go?
Virginia.  Virginia is now home to 11,455 former Marylanders, taking $390 
million from the tax rolls during this three-year period.

The Old Dominion can claim these former Maryland revenues as part of its 
expanding tax base. Following Virginia, Marylanders opted for North Carolina.

"What happens when you raise taxes and fees 24 times?,"  asked Change
Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan. "You get people voting with their feet
and moving to tax-friendly states."  Since 2007, Governor O'Malley has raised
taxes and fees 24 times, taking an additional $2.4 billion out of the economy
each year according to a Change Maryland analysis based on state government 

The analysis, from the non-partisan Tax Foundation, examines IRS tax
return data to determine where individuals are filing.

In the region, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia increased the
number of tax filers.  The District of Columbia and Pennsylvania lost
tax filers, although in these jurisdictions the loss was not nearly as
dramatic as in Maryland.  The District lost just over 1,100, while
Pennsylvania lost just over 8,200.

Nationally, Maryland did not fair much better either.  Maryland joins
high-taxed, rust belt states including New York, California, Michigan,
Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey among states with largest mass exodus
between 2007 and 2010.   Maryland saw the seventh-highest negative net
migration after these states.

In all, Maryland lost $1.7 billion form the tax base due to out
migration during this three year period.


Union-member confidentiality coming to Md.

ANNAPOLIS — Beginning this fall, confidentiality privileges long enjoyed by attorneys and their clients will be extended to labor organizations and their members, raising concerns that these new protections could interfere with federal law.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buffalo asks about MCPS Conflict of Interest issue for Weast/BOE hire in 2004

When Maryvale Elementary School got a new principal in 2004, Superintendent Jerry Weast represented to the Board of Education that his recommended hire was currently the President/CEO of the Flight to Excellence Educational Consulting company.  

Now that same individual is up for the position of Superintendent of Buffalo, New York public schools and has been asked about his resume by a Buffalo News reporter. 
- Newsome's resume lists him as president and CEO of Flight to Excellence Educational Consultants, from 1995 to present. I asked him about that, wondering how a sitting school administrator could have a private consulting firm without any conflicts of interest.
"I started that as potential for when I actually stop (working in) public education," he said. "But I haven't done anything with it because of potential of conflict of interest."

"...Board's decision to provide 2 raises in one year may have an adverse impact on the classroom..."

Letter from County Executive Ike Leggett and Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner to Superintendent Joshua Starr and Board of Education President Shirley D. Brandman.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are you smarter than a Board of Education member?

Take the test and find out! 

The Maryland Open Meetings Act Compliance Board has set up an Online Course for members of the public and elected officials to learn about the Maryland Open Meetings Act.  
If you pass the course, they issue you a certificate!  

Send us your completed certificate and we will post them on this blog.  

Lifelong learning for Board of Education members includes knowing Maryland law.

We look forward to seeing the completion certificates for Shirley Brandman, Christopher Barclay, Judy Docca, Phil Kauffman, Mike Durso, Laura Berthiaume and Patricia O'Neill. 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.
The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Dirge for Two Veterans, Walt Whitman

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Do Our Public Schools Threaten National Security?

From this week's New York Review of Books, article by Diane Ravitch, reviewing the new report.

US Education Reform and National Security
by Joel I. Klein, Condoleezza Rice, and others
Council on Foreign Relations, 103 pp., available at

In his Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, Richard Hofstadter characterized writing on education in the United States as

a literature of acid criticism and bitter complaint…. The educational jeremiad is as much a feature of our literature as the jeremiad in the Puritan sermons.

Anyone longing for the “good old days,” he noted, would have difficulty finding a time when critics were not lamenting the quality of the public schools. From the 1820s to our own time, reformers have complained about low standards, ignorant teachers, and incompetent school boards.


Now comes the latest jeremiad, this one from a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and led by Joel I. Klein, former chancellor of the New York City public schools (now employed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation to sell technology to schools and to advise Murdoch on his corporation’s hacking scandals), and Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state during the administration of President George W. Bush. This report has the cumbersome title US Education Reform and National Security and a familiar message: our nation’s public schools are so dreadful that they are a threat to our national security. Once again, statistics are marshaled to prove that our schools are failing, our economy is at risk, our national security is compromised, and everything we prize is about to disappear because of our low-performing public schools. Make no mistake, the task force warns: “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.”

Despite its alarmist rhetoric, the report is not a worthy successor to the long line of jeremiads that it joins. Unlike A Nation at Risk, which was widely quoted as a call to action, this report is a plodding exercise in groupthink among mostly like-minded task force members. Its leaden prose contains not a single sparkling phrase for the editorial writers. The only flashes of original thinking appear in the dissents to the report.
What marks this report as different from its predecessors, however, is its profound indifference to the role of public education in a democratic society, and its certainty that private organizations will succeed where the public schools have failed. Previous hand-wringing reports sought to improve public schooling; this one suggests that public schools themselves are the problem, and the sooner they are handed over to private operators, the sooner we will see widespread innovation and improved academic achievement.

The report is a mishmash of misleading statistics and incoherent arguments, intended to exaggerate the failure of public education. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, introduces the report with this claim: “It will come as no surprise to most readers that America’s primary and secondary schools are widely seen as failing.” Many scholars of education would disagree with this conclusion; they would probably respond that the United States has many excellent public schools and that the lowest-performing schools are overwhelmingly concentrated in districts with high levels of poverty and racial isolation. Haass then writes, “High school graduation rates, while improving, are still far too low, and there are steep gaps in achievement between middle class and poor students.” He does not seem aware that, according to the latest federal data, high school graduation rates are at their highest point in history for students of all races and income levels. Certainly they should be higher, but the actual data do not suggest a crisis.

To read the entire article go here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cash-strapped Montgomery County adds six-figure wellness, innovation czars

...The wellness coordinator will oversee a program aimed at improving the physical and mental health of county employees. The appointee, who will report to Human Resources Director Joseph Adler, is slated to earn $110,000 in salary and benefits...
...Joan Fidler, president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League, said the two positions make sense but the county should be integrating the job functions into existing positions rather than shelling out for new ones.Cato Institute budget analyst Tad DeHaven agreed. "It sounds like a waste of taxpayer money to me," he said.Most health insurance companies already offer wellness programs for employees, he said. And the chief innovation officer's job functions probably could be handled with existing staff."There's nothing inherently wrong with these things," he said. "It's just that I'm sure it could be handled by the bodies that they already have."The County Council approved the $4.6 billion budget for fiscal 2013 on Thursday.

When Pomp and Circumstance Collide: College Graduates and the March Back Home

Newswise — This month, thousands of college graduates are walking across the stage to shake hands, smile for the camera, and pick up their diplomas. Many of those newly minted American college graduates are moving out of their dorm rooms and back into their childhood bedrooms...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Half Of Recent College Graduates Lack Full-Time Job, Study Says

Huff Post Business

...Unemployment, for Whitecotton and many of her peers, comes with other consequences. Graduates since 2009 have earned an average starting salary of $27,000, down from $30,000 for the classes of 2006 and 2007. That's because employers can pay less with a surplus of job-seekers. In addition, many recent graduates take jobs below their skill level. The study found that 43 percent of employed recent graduates said their jobs do not require a college degree.
The wages of these recent college graduates will likely remain depressed for the next 10 to 15 years because they graduated into a weak economy, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank...

Montgomery County’s wrong education priorities

Click Here for The Washington Post:  Editorial

Note: No mention of the elected Board of Education in this Editorial.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Montgomery council to monitor school system’s growing surplus

Gazette:  School system has $32 million surplus

Chicago could have had Jerry Weast!

MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast was on the short list for the job of Chicago's superintendent.  But, instead of picking Weast, Mayor Rahm Emanuel picked Broad Superintendent Academy graduate J.C. Brizard.  
Here's an update from Diane Ravitch on how that selection is working out.  Wouldn't Jerry Weast have turned Chicago public schools around by now?

Chicago Supt Brizard Admits Failure

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gangs At Richard Montgomery HS?

Are there really GANGS at Richard Montgomery High School? According to today's Washington Post, it would seem so. In an article about the recent shooting at the Rockville Metro Station, the Post reported the following:
Nguyen was charged as an adult with attempted murder, along with 17-year-old Tavares Harris, who police say gave Nguyen the gun. Both boys attend Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, one of the top schools in the county, officials said. Both suspects, as well as the victim, are members of gangs, Feeney said in court. He did not say what, if any, role that played in the shooting.
Just a couple of questions for the MCPS $10 million dollar public relations department: 1. Was the gun used in the shooting ever on the RMHS campus? Has an investigation been done? 2. Exactly how many gangs are active at RMHS? 3. What efforts are being made at RMHS to address the issue of gangs? (or, as Montgomery County likes to call them, "criminally oriented youth subculture." The first priority, before everything, should be safety in schools.

MCPS down to 1 in Newsweek top 100 High Schools Ranking

2012: 1 MCPS high school in the top 100

2011:  2 MCPS high schools in top 100
Eight MCPS High Schools Ranked among Newsweek’s Top 500 High Schools 

2010:  7 MCPS high schools in top 100
MCPS Has Seven Schools in Newsweek's Top 100 List

2009:  4 MCPS high schools in top 100
Newsweek Ranks Four MCPS High Schools in the Top 100 in the Nation

Monday, May 21, 2012

Board of Education Stakes Claim to School Land

The sign shown was put up today on the Brickyard Middle School future school site.

The sign is a bit late, as the Board of Education has already turned this 20 acre future school site over to County Executive Ike Leggett.  Leggett has already turned the land over to MSI Soccer for their private use.   

"...erroneous rankings for the high schools on U.S. News & World Report's "Best High Schools" list...."

The National Center for Education Statistics plans to check data on about 5,000 high schools after faulty information from the federal agency led to erroneous rankings for three high schools on U.S. News & World Report’s yearly “Best High Schools” report......However, Jeff Horn, the principal at Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nev., noted that his school’s number 13 ranking was based on federal statistics that mistakenly said his school had 477 students, 111 teachers, and a 100 percent passing rate on Advanced Placement tests that school year. In actuality, the school has about 2,850 students, a student-teacher ratio that is closer to 24 to 1, and an AP pass rate of about 64 percent. Student-teacher ratios and AP pass rates are a part of the magazine’s ranking system...

Education Week:  Statistics Agency to Review 'Best High Schools' Data

Andrews: ‘Are the actions of the county Board of Education affecting adults, or are they affecting children? … It is a choice.”

The Town Courier: A Talk With County Council Member Phil Andrews

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sine Die?

Hard to tell, folks.  However we can tell you that in the special session which ended last week, the Maryland House of Delegates shifted pension costs to the counties; and passed legislation to increase state income taxes on people with incomes of over $100,000.  They voted down increases in your gasoline tax.

Del. Kumar Barve voted in favor of the tax increase in part because, he said, "I am willing to pay that price" (an additional $4.88 per week for him and his wife), according to an article by reporter Len Lazarick, which you can read here.  In contrast, Del. Kelly voted against that tax because, she said, "I believe this discriminates against two-income families."  Read Mr. Lazarick's article on Del. Kelly here.

Opposing the tax increase from the Montgomery County Delegation were: Charles Barclay, Jim Gilchrist, Ana Sol Gutierrez, Ariana Kelly, Ben Kramer, Kirill Reznik.

The entire vote can be seen at the General Assembly website here.

An Eastern Shore legislator's view of Montgomery County

From an article by Laura E. Price, a member of the Talbot County Council, in the Star Democrat in Talbot County.
The state should not be able to mandate how much a county must pay for education by some arbitrary formula, with no regard to the current economy and revenues. Unfortunately, a few big counties on the western shore have all the power and the teacher's union has an inordinate amount of influence.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"Particularly for sophomores & juniors who want to stop going to school as early in June as possible, APs are an easy excuse out. "

Silver Chips Online:  The Advanced Placement problem

Accessory Apartments in Your Neighborhood!

The Montgomery County Planning Board is working on a new zoning ordinance that will allow attached and separate apartment buildings in residential neighborhoods all across the county. Yes, that would mean in your neighborhood, too.  Your neighbor -- or you! would be able to build an add-on or a separate apartment structure housing up to two new residential units.  An apartment-in-a-box in your backyard! Just think of it.  Currently these apartments require the builder to go through a public 'special exception' process with a public hearing at the Board of Appeals.  However, your Planning Board (appointed by your county council members) want to change that: why bother with a public process? Instead, let's have these apartments built 'by right.'  No discussion required.  No discussion of the additional parking spaces needed; additional classroom space needed; additional stress on infrastructure. Naw, why bother with those pesky questions?

Because of those pesky questions, the Planning Board has scheduled two meetings on Monday May 21st, please attend.  Originally these were to be 'Q&A' meetings.  But again, why bother with those pesky questions? Instead the Board has suddenly changed the format to an "open house" format with "stations."

DATE: Monday May 21
TIMES: 3:00 - 4:30 PM and 7-9 PM
LOCATION: Montgomery County Planning Board, 1st Floor Auditorium, 8787 Georgia Ave,. Silver Spring.  Metered parking in the rear.

Please attend -- make sure the Planning Board answers your questions.  And please let the County Council know what you think of new apartments in your neighborhood.  Email the council at And, here is the email for the Planning Board:

Friday, May 18, 2012

MCPS Class Sizes and School Staffing for 2012-2013

Below is the Class Size and School Staffing budget document for the 2012-2013 school year.
The yellow highlighting shows changes from the 2011-2012 budget document.  
Read the 2011-2012 document at this link.

For example, in the box for Classroom Teacher under Elementary Guideline we see that the following sentence has been added to the 2012-2013 staffing guidelines: 
"When numbers support it, positions are allocated for combination classes."
There are many other changes to the document that will reduce or change the number of staff at local schools next year.  There are also more instances where staffing is at the discretion of the local principal, and a number of positions do not give the details of actual allocations. 

Remember that this document is prepared at the secret budget table by MCPS administrative staff, the 3 Unions, and MCCPTA select officers. This document is not prepared at the public Board of Education table by the elected Board of Education.  

FY 2013 K-12 Staffing Guildelines

MCPS K-12 Class Sizes for 2011-2012

Recently, members of the County Council brought up the issue of overcrowded classes in MCPS.  Superintendent Starr was not familiar with the issue of overcrowded classes. 
For reference, below is the document in the MCPS budget that sets class sizes.  This document is for the 2011-2012 school year. But, as with much of MCPS, principal discretion has the final say in class size.

Kindergarten  26 students (18 at Red Zone Schools)
Grades 1-3    27 students  (19 in Grades 1-2 at Red Zone Schools)
Grades 4-5    29 students
Middle and High Schools are staffed by a formula as shown below.  

FY 2012 K-12 Staffing Guidelines

"We will sleep in the classroom and eat breakfast."

Tattler Extra: What Happens in AP Classes After Exams?

D.C. Counts Illegally Enrolled Students. Does MCPS?

The Washington Post:  OSSE report: District pays at least $10 million to educate non-resident studentsBy  
The District has been trying to save a few dollars by reducing the number of special education students in expensive private schools at public expense.
According to a new report, that includes 118 students whose families don’t even live in the city...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FYI: American Youth Policy Forum e-Bulletin

We are happy to announce the launch of our new and improved website at You have come to rely on the American Youth Policy Forum as an unbiased source of information on policy, practice, and research that can improve the lives of young people. We hope that you’ll find our new website an even more powerful tool for accessing information to help you do your work.

Our new web interface will enable you to:
Perform a dynamic search of all of our resources for materials that fit your needs
Create a user log-in and password to update your profile and register for AYPF events ONLINE
Learn more about featured program areas, searchable by popularity and date of resource
Stream videos and recordings of past AYPF forums and webinars
Learn about our upcoming events
Read our latest e-bulletin and peruse our e-bulletin archives

We value your feedback on our new design, and encourage you to let us know how we can continue to improve on our new website. If you have suggestions, please contact us at

Please also help spread the word! We hope that you inform others about our new website via Facebook, Twitter, and relevant listservs. We’ll see you online!


Forum- Weighing Evidence: Conversation w/ Community College Presidents on Using Research Towards Student Success Outcomes, Friday, May 18th. 2012, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

This forum will highlight a portfolio of new research on several promising strategies to help underprepared students transition to college and ultimately advance to a degree. Broadly speaking, the experimental research suggests that short-term interventions can hasten students’ progress through developmental education and into college-level work, but the positive effects are often not large or long-term. These findings are to be released this summer in several reports by the National Center for Postsecondary Research (NCPR), a partnership between the Community College Research Center, MDRC, the University of Virginia, and faculty at Harvard University. Following an overview of the research, community college leaders will describe how they are applying the research to design more comprehensive programs and structured pathways which better support students at their colleges. Presenters will include Thomas Bailey, Director, National Center for Postsecondary Research; Evan Weissman, Operations Associate, MDRC; Regina S. Peruggi, President, Kingsborough Community College; and Richard Rhodes, President/CEO, Austin Community College. This forum will be held in Washington, DC. Location TBD. To register, click here.

Forum - Increasing College & Career Readiness through Dual Enrollment: Research, Policies, & Effective Practices, Friday, June 8th, 2012, 12:00-1:30p.m.

Policymakers and practitioners continue to seek ways to help more students graduate from high school ready to successfully transition into and complete postsecondary education prepared for careers. Acceleration mechanisms, such as Dual Enrollment and Early College High Schools, are one strategy that can address these challenges simultaneously and that are demonstrating positive impacts on youth, particularly at-risk student populations. This forum will provide information on different types of Dual Enrollment programs, what the research says about their effectiveness, and showcase a unique public-private sector Early College High School model, supported by DeVry University, that allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in four years in a field that leads directly into a career and employment. Presenters will also discuss the necessary policy supports at the state and local level to create programs that operate at the intersection of K-12 and higher education. Presenters will include Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, State of Georgia; Irene Munn, Policy Director, Office of Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle; Melinda Mechur Karp, Senior Research Associate, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University; andScarlett Howery, President, Columbus Metro, DeVry University. This forum will be held in Washington, DC. Location TBD. To register, click here.

Webinar - Dual Enrollment: Latest Research and Policy Development, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 1:00-2:00p.m.

A Conversation with National Experts co-sponsored with the National Center on Postsecondary Research (NCPR)

Join AYPF and NCPR for an online conversation on the latest research and policy development on dual enrollment featuring Katherine Hughes, Community College Research Center and National Center for Postsecondary Research,Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Education Commission of the States, and Joel Vargas, Jobs for the Future. Presenters will discuss the growing body of research on dual enrollment, examine recent policy trends, and answer questions from the audience.

Please visit our YouTube channel at for video clips of events, interviews and more!

Forum Brief - Building a Comprehensive System to Support All Students Getting to High School Graduation and Beyond

A brief is now available that summarizes AYPF’s April 27th forum focused on providing multiple pathways to high school graduation that prepare all youth for postsecondary education and careers. The event addressed how federal, state, and local policies can support efforts to prepare all learners for success. The forum highlighted New York City’s portfolio of options for students off-track to graduation as well as statewide efforts in Massachusetts to support young people graduating high school ready for college and careers. Presenters were: Kathryn Young, Director of National Education Policy, Jobs for the Future; Marissa Cole, Deputy Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Executive Office of Education; and Vanda Belusic-Vollor, Executive Director, New York City Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Readiness.

Webinar Recording – Creating State Accountability Systems That Measure College and Career Readiness for All Students

A recording is now available from our April 25th webinar focused on how states’ education accountability systems can be refined to more accurately measure progress toward high school graduation and college and career readiness for all students, including those pursuing alternative pathways to graduation. We featured Colorado’s performance framework that holds schools and districts accountable for factors such as academic growth and postsecondary and workforce readiness. Colorado has also implemented an accountability system for its Alternative Education Campuses that holds students to the same high standards as in the traditional system, but also gives schools credit for student engagement and other factors important to moving non-traditional students to graduation. Recommendations for all states were also discussed. Presenters included Ryan Reyna, Program Director, National Governors Association Center for Best Practices;Somoh Supharukchinda, Principal Consultant, Accountability and Data Analysis Unit, Colorado Department of Education; and Kim Knous-Dolan, Associate Director, Donnell-Kay Foundation.

Briefs and trip reports are available online at

Publications are available online at


Check these out – recommended reading from the AYPF staff

CompetencyWorks: Learning from the Cutting Edge International Association for K-12 Online Learning, American Youth Policy Forum, Jobs for the Future, the National Governor's Association, and MetisNet

CompetencyWorks, a new website highlighting innovations, promising practices, and solutions for tough issues that educators, administrators, and policymakers face when shifting from a time-based system towards competency-based education, launched today at Combining research, an active blog, an expanding wiki, and the voices of practitioners from across the country, CompetencyWorks is the online extension of a collaboration of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), the American Youth Policy Forum, Jobs for the Future, the National Governor's Association, and MetisNet to support states, districts, and schools as they innovate beyond the traditionally time-based structure of the K-12 system. CompetencyWorks will showcase the best practices of bold policymakers and practitioners who have worked to explore and implement new ways to expand and enrich support to students, challenging the assumption that learning takes place within the classroom. Regardless of whether a student is more comfortable learning online, developing skills through an internship or in community service, requires a more personalized learning plan, or falls into the oft-neglected category of over-age, under-credited, competency-based approaches will allow them the flexibility to succeed where strictly defined, time-based policies have not. For more information about CompetencyWorks or to learn more about competency-based approaches to learning, please visit

The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies National Endowment for the Arts

This report examines arts-related variables from four large datasets -- three maintained by the U.S. Department of Education and one by the U.S. Department of Labor -- to understand the relationship between arts engagement and positive academic and social outcomes in children and young adults of low socioeconomic status (SES). Conducted by James Catterall, University of California Los Angeles, et al., the analyses show that achievement gaps between high- and low-SES groups appear to be mitigated for children and young adults who have arts-rich backgrounds.

Education Reform for the Digital Era Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Will the digital-learning movement repeat the mistakes of the charter-school movement? How much more successful might today's charter universe look if yesterday's proponents had focused on the policies and practices needed to ensure its quality, freedom, and resources over the long term? Can we be smarter about taking high-quality online and blended schools to scale—and to educational success? Yes, says this volume, as it addresses such thorny policy issues as quality control, staffing, funding, and governance for the digital sector. In this book, the authors show how current arrangements need to change—often radically—if instructional technology is to realize its potential.

Replenishing Opportunity in America: The 2012 Midterm Report of Public Higher Education Systems in the Access to Success Initiative The Education Trust

To protect our democratic traditions, regain economic strength, and meet the demands of our nation's employers, we must improve outcomes for low-income students and students of color, according to The Education Trust. This midterm report on the Education Trust's Access to Success Initiative, "Replenishing Opportunity in America," shows how 22 state public higher education systems leaders are stepping up to this challenge.

Common Core Math Standards Implementation Can Lead to Improved Student Achievement Achieve, Chiefs for Change, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education

In this event co-sponsored by Achieve, Chiefs for Change, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Dr. William Schmidt presented a briefing on his work: Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation and Student Achievement. Schmidt's research reviewed all 50 states' previous math standards and compared them to the focus and coherence found in the CCSS for mathematics. Unlike previous research, Schmidt analyzed the link between states with standards that were similar to the CCSS and their NAEP math scores. He used cut scores aligned to NAEP as a proxy to determine if states were serious about high expectations and implementation of standards. The preliminary results showed states with standards in line with CCSS combined with higher cut scores also had higher NAEP scores.

How School Districts Can Stretch the School Dollar Thomas B. Fordham Institute

This policy brief provides a tool for navigating the financial challenges of the current school-funding climate, complete with clear dos and don'ts for anyone involved in or concerned with local education budgets. Author Michael J. Petrilli argues that quick fixes won't solve the problem, nor will slashing teacher salaries. Instead, creative, thoughtful, and fundamental changes are needed to address our budget crisis without hurting children.

The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

AYPF events and publications are made possible by a consortium of philanthropic foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William T. Grant Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation,Carnegie Corporation of New York , State Farm Insurance, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and others.


Starr not aware of large classes

...County lawmakers questioned whether decreasing classroom size in the coming year is the right choice. Class sizes vary depending on grade and type of class, but several council members cited reports of classrooms of 40 students or more......Superintendent Joshua Starr said he was not aware of any classrooms that large. Classroom size wasn't on the top of the school board's list of priorities, he said...

Examiner:  MontCo lawmakers criticize schools for using surplus on pay, not classes

Harper: Restraint Guidelines Endanger Children : Roll Call Opinion

Every day in schools across the United States, students are being subjected to barbaric and potentially deadly treatment in the form of seclusion and restraint.
According to leading education researchers and child trauma experts, as well as the Government Accountability Office, the use of these practices — which include forcibly pinning students to the ground, strapping them to chairs or locking them in closets — is dangerous and traumatic for everyone involved, including teachers, other school personnel and students. Their use has been linked to physical and emotional harm and even death. It is a practice that amounts to institutionalized child abuse, and it has no place in our schools.
That is why the American Association of School Administrators’ recent endorsement of the use of seclusion and restraint in our schools is so disheartening...
...Ultimately, the AASA’s position on seclusion and restraint is really a reflection of the group’s disregard for children with disabilities.The implication is that these vulnerable children are a burden to schools, rather than an equally important part of the student population. The underlying attitude is that these children are disrupting their efforts to educate the “good” students and that something must be done to keep disruptions to a minimum. What better way to accomplish this than by locking the disruptive child in a closet for the day?...
Read Opinion at this link:  Harper: Restraint Guidelines Endanger Children : Roll Call Opinion

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comment on MCPS Surplus: Why not pay back County?

Cary LamariMay 16, 2012 11:36 AMIf the School System has a surplus and a carryover from last year, Why don't they transfer the funds to the General Fund. It would be nice if maybe they paid the County Back for the Promethian Boards they illegally purchased using Rebate funds? Just a thought.

Montgomery council questions school system surplus

Gazette: County council wants to know why, and how the money will be spent

Members of the Montgomery County Council will question the county school system this week on its plans for spending $33.3 million projected to be left over from its budget this year.
Montgomery County Public Schools is expected to end fiscal 2012 on June 30 without spending $21.4 million of its estimated $2.09 billion total budget, as well as $11.9 million it carried over from previous years, according to the school system’s May 8 monthly financial report...

Patch: Can a Curriculum Make Children Happy?

 ...And so being curious, I started poking through the MCPS public website and found this video of Superintendent Joshua Starr on 2.0.
What an interesting video. And what did I learn? Three things:
  1. Before Curriculum 2.0, we didn’t allow children to think on their own.
  2. Curriculum 2.0 is making children happier.
  3. With Curriculum 2.0 our children are taking ownership of their learning...

U.S. Department of Education Issues Resource Document that Discourages Restraint and Seclusion

Today, the U.S. Department of Education issued a publication that outlines principles for educators, parents and other stakeholders to consider when developing or refining policies and procedures to support positive behavioral interventions and avoid the use of restraint and seclusion...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Edison High: A small change in the building design made late in the process is under dispute.

Patch:  Edison High School Designs To Be Presented Tuesday
...In an email to the Board of Education that was posted on the Parents Coalition blog on Friday, Defino called attention to a design change made by MCPS to a corner of the school building. MCPS made this change to the architect’s original design in the last scheduled meeting on April 12, she told Patch, but the committee met again on April 22 for further discussion...

WED. MAY 16th - A Community Action Forum on Teen Drinking/Substance Abuse

Dear Parent Coalition members.
We hope you’re able to  join us Wednesday evening for this unique and informative forum (flyer attached). Please help us spread the word!
Many thanks,
Donna Pfeiffer
MCCPTA Safety & Health Committee Co-Chair

Teen Drinking Forum.pdf

Sports Concussions: The Role of Athletic Trainers in Keeping Student Athletes Safe

From the Whitman PTSA - Agenda for May 15, 2012 PTSA Meeting:

In January, Dr. Goodwin noticed from attendance data that 18 students were
recovering from concussions. In response to this troubling data, he turned
to parent Dr. Michael Singer, who organized the April 19 Concussion Panel
at Whitman. During the discussion, two of the panel members, Dr. Gerry
Gioia of Children's Hospital Sports Concussion Clinic, and Whitman parent
Dr. Dave Milzman of Georgetown/Medstar, called on MCPS to staff each high
school with an athletic trainer.

At the May 15, 2012 PTSA meeting, Jon Almquist, who heads the athletic trainers
who are staffed at Fairfax County Public Schools, will speak about the role
of trainers in high school sports programs. He will also discuss practical
issues about managing the risk of concussions in sports and what parents,
coaches, and athletes need to do to keep athletes safe at a high school
that does not have a trainer. In addition to his role at FCPS, Mr.
Almquist is a researcher on sports safety issues, whose work has been
published in sports medicine journals.

Important Title One Meeting Tuesday, May 15th

See announcement from Twinbrook PTA here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Open Meetings Massachusetts Style

Here is an interesting news item brought to you from one of my favorite MCPS alums, who continues to follow this blog from a distance.

Massachusetts is trying to put some meat into its Open Meetings Act

Imagine.  A $1000 fine every time a public body violates the Open Meetings Act. 

The problem with the Maryland Open Meetings Act is the lack of a remedy.  Sure, the Montgomery County Board of Education and other public bodies look pretty foolish when they keep on violating the act.  Press coverage helps to let the public know how their tax dollars are working - or rather, not working.

Martha Coakley wants to put more substance into the Massachusetts Open Meetings Act, and is proposing to issue fines of $1000 for every violation.

Here is the text of Ms. Coakley's proposal. 

Massachusetts Definition of Intentional Violation Regulation A special thanks to my source who obviously learned about civic engagement when he was enrolled in MCPS.

MCPS Curriculum 2.0 to be sold as "Pearson Forward"

Here it is!  Montgomery County Public Schools Elementary Integrated Curriculum, also know as North Star, also known as Curriculum 2.0 will be marketed and sold by Pearson Education, Inc as Pearson Forward

Learn all about our new MCPS-Pearson curriculum from the Board of Education a Pearson representative who presented a 17 page paper on the Pearson Forward project at the recent annual meeting of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in Vancover, British Columbia. 

You won't learn about MCPS-Pearson curriculum project from our Board of Education or Superintendent, but you can read a lot about it in this paper that was presented at a conference almost 3,000 miles away!

Creating Curriculum-Embedded, Performance-Based Assessments for Measuring 21st Century Skills in K-5 Students

Yes, that's the same AERA meeting where Jerry Weast was given an award

Now go out and tell your friends in other public school systems to tell their Board of Education to buy the Pearson Forward brand of curriculum and assessments.  

Remember for every ________ dollars of product sold, MCPS will get _______ in royalties!  Sorry, the numbers are a secret, the public isn't allowed to know the details of this cool deal.  But we do know that we love it and they will too!

MCPS Finds $$$$, Buys Electronic Voting for SMOB Election

True or False:  The MCPS budget is so tight that teachers have to buy their own classroom supplies.

Well, it's true that teachers buy their own classroom supplies, but it isn't because there is no money available.  Money is available and administrators always know where to find it when they need it.  They just open the "magic drawer of money" and shop 'til they drop.  Teachers don't have the luxury of the "magic drawer of money". 

Today's example is an administrator that decided to purchase an electronic voting system for the recent student elections.  This was the first time that an electronic voting system was used for the student election.  This was a new purchase.  

There is no record of this procurement being discussed or voted on in Board of Education minutes.  Yet, this procurement probably cost at least $7,000, probably more based on the size of the election.  

That's thousands of dollars that aren't going to go to classroom needs, spent by an administrator without Board of Education discussion or approval.  

How does the public know about this procurement?  Because the company that supplied the electronic voting product is now using MCPS in their advertising.  

How do we know what this procurement might have cost?  Because another customer discussed the cost of this product in a news article.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just send the bill to . . .

Jen Taylor at Wootton HS.

Jen is such a great person.  She is the guidance counselor without equal at Wootton HS in Rockville, the Student Government Association Sponsor, and she has a connection with BBYO!  So - she decided to use all these talents and agreed to run the big Tuned In Concert at Wootton High School on April 28, 2012.  Look at the signatures - all appear to be from BBYO.

Phil Hill?  He's the Wootton Business Manager, but that's not his signature below the line listing him as the contact.  Looks like the same signature from BBYO.

BBYO signed all the contracts - thus skipping that annoying provision of MCPS policies requiring that all contracts over $25,000 be approved by the Board of Education.  Just send the invoices over to Wootton. 

Don't you wish you could spend money and just send the invoice to someone else?

Note that this blogger asked for copies of all contracts and agreements involving the concert - and was not supplied with any agreement between BBYO and MCPS.  Jen is also creative - don't sign anything but the checks.

But - is this really a school supported activity or just a sham to let BBYO use the facilities and let Wootton HS front the facilities?

What a great lesson in civic disengagement we are teaching the kids.  Thanks MCPS and the Board of Education for turning a truly blind eye!

Send the Invoice to Jen

TEB TEB1 Timeflies Having Fun

“Run toward trouble,” Weast says.

...Run toward trouble 
Morrison’s work at Stone High got noticed. He was Maryland’s Principal of the Year in 2004.
His doctoral adviser, Carol Parham of the University of Maryland, was the one who told him it was time to move on. He went to work for Jerry Weast, superintendent in Montgomery County, Md.
Weast, who recently retired after 35 years as a superintendent, has a national reputation for finding and developing talent. He says he drills all his administrators in a few core values: Provide hope. Be compassionate. And own up quickly and publicly when you make mistakes. “Run toward trouble,” Weast says.
Montgomery County is a large, high-performing suburban district with a struggling urban edge abutting Washington, D.C. Those were the schools Morrison supervised. And that district, more than the smaller and less diverse one he currently leads, gave him a taste of what CMS might be like, Morrison says.
At the core of urban education lie troubling questions: Why are so many poor, black and Hispanic students failing and dropping out? And can anyone break that pattern?
Morrison says he’s always sought to work in schools where those students struggle. Beneath his successful white-guy-in-a-tie surface lies a boy who lived in an impoverished black neighborhood, an American who was a misfit in British school, a youth who lost faith in his own intelligence.
Every educator in America says all children can learn. Morrison believes it, say Weast, Parham and others who have worked with him. And his belief, coupled with his energy, is infectious...
full article at this link:  charlotteobserver: CMS gets a leader ‘on the rise’

Read more here:

Read more here:

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all our moms.

From the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

Open Meetings Act Complaint Filed on Superintendent Search

in Howard County.

120504 OMA Complaint ATTACH Signed

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Civic Fed Meeting and Program on Artificial Turf

Please join the Civic Fed for our monthly meeting.  The Program will be on Artificial Turf Playing Fields.  The meeting begins at 7:45 PM and the program will begin at 8:00 PM.
Paula Bienenfeld
Education Committee Chair

Monday, May 14, 2012
7:45 p.m.
County Council Building - 1st Floor Auditorium
100 Maryland Avenue
Rockville, Maryland
For directions go here

Patch: Council Land Deal Legislation Passes Too Late For Brickyard

The Montgomery County Council approved a bill that harnesses some of the county executive's power to make land deals. County Executive Ike Leggett has ten days to approve or veto the bill.

...Councilmembers Valerie Ervin, Nancy Floreen and Craig Rice opposed the proposal.
"This bill insults the integrity of executive branch staff by suggesting that the executive branch's work is not intended to serve the best interests of the county," they said in a joint statement...

Over 70 acres of dedicated public school land that the current and past County Executive have turned over to private interests is listed below.  Meanwhile, Montgomery County Public School children are being educated in temporary trailers outside of their school buildings.  Is turning over public school land to private interests for pennies in the best interest of public school children? 

Peary High School
Montgomery Hills Junior High
Bradley Middle School site 
Brickyard Middle School site 

Friday, May 11, 2012

MCPS Staff Changes Building Design Behind Closed Doors

As parents, community and staff were meeting as a committee to design a modernized Edison High School, MCPS staff was making changes behind the scenes.  The committee saw a change to the building's design at the April 12, 2012 meeting, that was to have been the last of the series of design meetings. Below is an e-mail from an Edison High School parent about that change. 

From: Theresa Defino
To: boe <>
Cc: Joshua_Starr <>
Sent: Thu, May 10, 2012 4:26 pm

Subject: follow-up on Edison/Wheaton designs

Thank you to the board members who spoke on behalf of Edison [High School] at your recent business meeting.

To provide further clarity on the issue, I have attached the presentation from the April 24, 2012 design meeting (our last). I ask that you spend a minute to look at pages 21-23, focusing on the area on the left where there is a flag.

Page 21 has the original design with the corner, which you can see altered in 22 and again on 23. As you know, the change was ordered by MCPS staff. We are still not in receipt of any detailed justifications for the change.

We believe the original design is cleaner and more attractive, and contributes to the "wow" factor that we all want a building to have that is unique in the county and will last for 50-100 years.

Keep in mind these designs are the result of multimillion contract with Grimm + Parker. This is a top-notch, highly-regarded firm that has done many projects for MCPS.

Overall, we are extremely pleased with their work and the plans for the schools. But staff, students, parents and the community we deserve a building that demonstrates the best that they have to offer, both professionally and creatively. We believe the angle should remain as proposed.

Thank you.

Theresa Defino
Edison Parent