Monday, April 30, 2012

Concerned Mont. Co. Parent and Highland Elementary School Graduate, Class of 1989

Dear Parent's Coalition,

I attended Highland Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD the 1980s for six years. I know that school well and I looked into the data. It is every bit as suspicious as you suggest. I too was suspicious of this data when I saw it a few years ago. I still live in Montgomery County with three children of my own.

You should ask more questions because I am very certain that the test data of Highland Elementary School shows that something is amiss.

Here are 4 important issues that the data show which need further investigation:

(1) How can a school have 61.9% of its students be receiving special instruction for Limited English Proficiency (see link below) and in precisely the same year (2009) have 94% of its students be advanced in not any subject in particular but English reading specifically?

http://www.mdreportcard.org/SpecialServices.aspx?PV=36:E:15:0774:1:N:0:14:1:2:1:1:1:1:3&static=Y

Of course this is patently absurd.

(2) With a student body that has a majority of immigrant students of limited English proficiency, you would expect greater success at math or science than English reading. Instead, the opposite is true: 

Here are the astonishingly high reading scores:

http://www.mdreportcard.org/MsaTrends.aspx?PV=1:5:15:0774:3:N:0:13:1:2:2:1:1:1:3

Here are the relatively poor math scores:

http://www.mdreportcard.org/MsaTrends.aspx?PV=1:5:15:0774:3:N:0:13:2:2:2:1:1:1:3

And here are the extremely poor science scores:

http://www.mdreportcard.org/MsaTrends.aspx?PV=1:5:15:0774:3:N:0:13:3:2:2:1:1:1:3

These supposedly incredible teachers and students did very poorly in the very areas that one would have expected them to excel at.

(3) An important statistical technique is to look at cohort effects. The reading data shows a massive jump from 2007 to 2008 in the fifth grade data. Then there is a massive drop from 2010 to 2011. We can follow the *same group of students* for fourth and third grades and see what we find.

Looking at the fourth grade data we see that the very same group of students that reported 80% advanced reading in 5th grade in 2008 reported only 25% advanced reading in 2007 in 4th grade. 

http://www.mdreportcard.org/MsaTrends.aspx?PV=1:4:15:0774:3:N:0:13:1:2:2:1:1:1:3

From 2010 to 2011, there was a huge drop from 86% advanced reading in the fifth grade level to 42% in 2011. That same group of students reporting that incredible 86% of students achieving advanced in fifth grade had only shown 30% advanced reading two years earlier in third grade.

http://www.mdreportcard.org/MsaTrends.aspx?PV=1:3:15:0774:3:N:0:13:1:2:2:1:1:1:3

Even more astonishing to me, that group of students reported to have an incredible 94% of their students achieving advanced reading in 5th grade in 2009, was the same group that reported a mere 12.1% advanced reading in 2007 in third grade.

This group that reported such terrific results was apparently not learning much along the way.

(4) In 2009, at the same time that the fifth grade class at Highland elementary was reporting such incredible results with 94% of all students performing at an advanced level, the third grade class under the same school leadership was performing at an abysmally low level with just 13.6% of students doing advanced reading. This is going on simultaneously! 

Please don't let these questions go unanswered. Something is very fishy.

Best regards,

Daniel Hess

Concerned Montgomery County Parent and Highland Elementary School Graduate, Class of 1989

FOXdc: Report questions dramatic improvement of scores at Montgomery County school

FOXdc interviewed Superintendent Joshua Starr on the issue of the dramatic rise of Highland Elementary School test scores in 2008-2009.  FOXdc did not ask Superintendent Starr why the Highland scores then fell.


A few facts to go with the MCPS spin

The MCPS Press Release on Highland Elementary School today says:
"However, Mr. Judd [the AJC reporter] was told numerous times that the drop [in test scores at Highland] was related to budget reductions that resulted in the loss of staff that helped with focused reading instruction and interventions for students that were struggling."
So let's Fact Check that statement from MCPS by looking at the data on Highland Elementary for the years in question.  


The peak in the Highland Elementary test scores as shown on the AJC article chart was 2009.  Then the scores began to fall again.  


Click on image for full screen view to show all columns.
*  Spending per pupil as to School Personnel Cost. (source MCPS Schools at a Glance) 


** The local school budget information in these years gave more details than after 2008.  So the budget numbers for years with **  will be higher as they include all of the funding for the local school.  After 2008, MCPS limited the budget data that was released for each local school. 


*** This was the year that MCPS withheld local school budget information from the public so the budget for this local school for that year is not available.

$1.3 MILLION up for grabs today at Council. Where you would like to see that spent?

MCPS received $1.3 Million as a rebate for purchasing access to the Internet for schools.  The rebate money comes from the federal government and goes to the funding authority.  In this case, the Montgomery County Council. The rebate has no strings attached and can be spent for ANYTHING that the Montgomery County Council desires.

Today - Monday, April 30, 2012 - 2 PM - Montgomery County Council Education Committee discussion of how to spend that $1,339,200.  (The hearing will not be televised. That would be too much transparency.)
Contact Council members to weigh in on how to spend this money.

20120430_ED1-2

Let's be clear: When cheating does exist, MCPS will work to cover it up.

MCPS has issued the following press release in response to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution article on Highland Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD.  Bear in mind that when there were allegations of cheating at Potomac Elementary School MCPS was busy covering up the issue


The AJC article and accompanying chart raised questions about how test scores could climb, and then fall. Will MCPS investigate the phenomenon or seek to ignore the issue at hand?


Dr. Starr Responds to Irresponsible Atlanta Journal-Constitution Article 
April 30, 2012
MCPS Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr offered the following response to Sunday's article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has published an article that looked at the standardized test results of schools that were named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. Highland Elementary School, in Silver Spring, was one of the schools included in the AJC’s article. The story identifies large swings in standardized test scores for the schools that won the Blue Ribbon award. The AJC’s implication is that Highland students and staff must have cheated. 
Let me be clear: The turnaround that occurred at Highland Elementary School was the result of having a great school leader and a motivated staff that had the training, support and resources it needed to serve its students. There has never been an allegation of cheating at Highland Elementary School since the school’s turnaround began and the school continues to get tremendous results even as its resources have been cut significantly over the past four years.
The AJC’s story not only represents irresponsible journalism, but it fosters the very stereotypes that have dogged public education for too long. The underlying message is that schools comprised of mostly African American, Hispanic or poor students cannot achieve at a high level unless they cheat. We know that is not the case and are disturbed by the inference. There are no shortcuts to this success. It takes focus, investment and commitment, but all students can learn if they are provided the instruction, supports and interventions they need.
Highland has nothing to hide, which is why we welcomed AJC reporter Alan Judd to the school. He saw the tremendous instruction going on in each classroom, saw multiple examples of great student work and spoke at length to the teachers and principals. Little of that is represented in the story, and what is represented is in the last section of the article long after the suggestion of cheating has been made. The AJC does not offer one scintilla of evidence that cheating occurred at Highland, but rather uses inferences and selective data in an attempt to prove its point.
The article suggests that Highland’s performance on state assessments has fallen dramatically, focusing on a drop in the percentage of students that scored in the “advanced” range in 5th grade reading. However, Mr. Judd was told numerous times that the drop was related to budget reductions that resulted in the loss of staff that helped with focused reading instruction and interventions for students that were struggling. He fails to mention that the percentage of 5th grade students scoring at proficient or higher on the reading exam was above 95 percent, where it has been for three consecutive years.
The article suggests that the fact that Highland didn’t make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2011 is a further indication of questionable results in the past. Yet, the authors fail to mention that in 2011, Highland missed AYP by four students in just one subgroup—special education—in mathematics during a year that the Academic Measurable Objective increased. This data tells us nothing about Highland, but rather speaks to the absurdity of the AYP formula. 
The AJC had its story written long before it visited Highland Elementary, which is unfortunate. But that does not diminish the accomplishments of the school’s staff and students.
I challenge anyone to walk the halls of Highland, watch the teaching and learning in the classrooms and see the quality of the student work and not come away convinced that the school’s test scores are not only valid, but are also just a small indicator of its success.

What the Wootton Kids Really Learned from TunedIn

As I posted before, the Wootton-BBYO concert went on as scheduled - in somewhat rainy, somewhat cold environs.

In my next to last post on this subject (yes, there is still one more piece in the pipeline), I'd like to share some of the lessons learned.

Civic Engagement - according to Dr. Doran and Ms. Taylor, all you need is a party. Doesn't matter what you have to get to do to have the party, just party along and you will be engaged. The louder the better.

Don't worry about the rules - yes, you can have a large party in school facilities, even if you need to import or borrow attendees from outside your school to come to the party. Noise permits, police, traffic control - who needs them? Certainly not a high performing school with well connected parents who can arrange to have things your way.

Run the event after school hours, at a cost that could be prohibitive to some of your school community. After all, the student government raised the funds. School activities are much more fun if you need a ticket on a Saturday night to attend.

Don't forget to bring in a partner, even if the partner's goals aren't your own. So what if its a faith based organization, and its name is on every website. Its great publicity. And if some members of your community feel excluded? The material has no religious content! OK, we'll take off that part about synagogue affiliation from the ticket order form.

Also be sure to include fencing with barbed wire to keep out the undesirables. That way you won't spend as much money on security.

The only folks with any sense during this concert seemed to be the featured attraction. During the afternoon, the sound checks rocked the neighborhood. However, during the concert, the actual noise level did not shake the walls in the neighbors homes. Thanks to Third Eye Blind for recognizing this wasn't your usual commercial venue.



Thanks to the combination of weather and sparse ticket sales, the last lesson learned - the one about parking and traffic - didn't seem to be an issue last night. Attendance at the event was modest, so traffic was not an issue. But another lesson that Dr. Doran and Ms. Taylor need to know for the next event - be sure that you plan for adequate parking, especially if you invite teens from across the county. Maps would be helpful. Telling the Northern Virginia VIPs to park at Frost doesn't mean much.

Which brings us to the next rule. Only plan events that will excite and engage your own students. If you have to count on ticket sales to other "partners" or reach out to other schools, you have failed big time in your key objective with your own students and community.


And for those of you who can't wait for my final post on this topic, I'll give you a hint. I'm waiting for the contracts and the budget information from the various county offices involved in the event. Almost everyone has responded to my request - except for Montgomery County Public Schools. As with Wootton, the rules don't apply to MCPS, so they are holding the materials to the last possible moment at 5 pm before they release anything.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

At Blue Ribbon schools, big gains, an award, then declines

Atlanta-Journal Constitution: At Blue Ribbon schools, big gains, an award, then declines
...At dozens of schools, statistically improbable spikes in test scores peaked in the year the schools submitted successful Blue Ribbon applications, the AJC analysis found. In that year, suspicious gains occurred about three times more often in Blue Ribbon winners than at all schools nationwide. At many, scores fell after the award.
Highland Elementary of Montgomery County, Md., is one school that follows this pattern...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Atlanta Newspaper Reports on MCPS Elementary's Test Scores Rise and Fall

...It was failing, badly, and was in danger of becoming the first school in Montgomery County, an affluent, high-achieving suburb of Washington, D.C., to be taken over by the state. The superintendent of schools [Jerry Weast] lured a highly regarded principal out of retirement to take one last shot at saving the school. The new principal focused on reading and math, the subjects tested to determine whether a school meets federal standards known as “adequate yearly progress.” Over three years, average scores jumped as much as 78 percentage points.
This narrative began to fall apart in the years following Highland’s Blue Ribbon designation. Some test scores dropped almost as sharply as they had risen. Last year, for the first time since 2005, Highland failed to make AYP..

TunedIn - What you can expect - and what you can't

The show is going on!  Amazing.

Here is some additional facts you should know before you go.

Accessible seating is available for the elderly or for those who otherwise cannot stand for several hours (probably all the dignitaries too).  Oops, wonder what they are going to do with those cars!



Here is a picture of the six portapotties. Remember, don't drink water or anything else - the lines can be very long if you do.



And parents - for your own comfort level - here is a view of the fence and barbed wire that will keep your kids inside the concert venue and safe from harm.






Finally, here are some other views of the stage.  As one of the concert promoters told us - the tickets are almost sold out!  The sound will be awesome! and she has faith that the rain will stay away (and yes, they are aware that Joel Olsteen rescheduled his event).







TunedIn - the Show will Go On

You've really got to admire the folks at Wootton and BBYO for continuing with their plans to hold an outdoor concert on the Wootton property.  Joel Osteen already cancelled his Night of Hope, oringinally planned for tonight at Nationals Stadium, and have rescheduled for tomorrow night.  and his group.

Who has a better line to the almighty one? 

As for the Wootton BBYO stuff, this is consistent.  We are so right, we more than anyone else.  Permits - nah, who needs them.  Noise - we'll take the risk.  After all this is a civic engagement activity, and what better way to learn civic engagement than by breaking all the rules..

Right now - 2 pm Rockville time, the sun is shining, and the bands are doing their sound checks.  Come on over to Frost Hill, get your parking spaces now, and hear the concert for free.

For those who are venturing over to the concert tonight - here is some additional advice - you don't need to wear your mudboots, because the concert has been moved over to the Wootton Parking Lot.  Remember not to drink - water or anything else - because Wootton will onl

Parents - have no fear, we're sure that the 10 rent-a cops and the 5 security staff from Wootton will be able to maintain order.   And keep the traffic flowing on Wootton Parkway too!

Read the weather report and be sure to dress accordingly. 



6 PM ShowersShowers55°55°3 mph E48%60%0
7 PM ShowersShowers54°54°3 mph E50%60%0
8 PM ShowersShowers52°52°3 mph E54%60%0
9 PM ShowersShowers51°51°2 mph E60%60%0
10 PM ShowersShowers49°49°2 mph E67%60%0
11 PM ShowersShowers48°48°2 mph E75%

Pearson's ALT-MSA: What Teachers Think

Parents have long known that the ALT-MSA is a money and time waster for students and teachers. Here's one teacher's opinion:
 ""Our children are already being left behind. We teach the most severely disabled students in our county, and yet we have to teach at least 10 objectives in math and reading after we have reviewed the state standards and curriculum's. Appropriate education is not one of the objectives. Our students need to learn the most basic functional life skills, but we have to spend most of our time putting together and creating a test based on math and reading (soon to be science and social studies). "It has broken the spirit of many of the teachers in our school and many schools in our county. We are told to start September 1. "One teacher asked if she could transfer to another class that does not have alternative Maryland assessment (alt-msa), so she can go to graduate school (so she can be deemed to be highly qualified). She cannot do both. "We have visited the state's department of ed to share our stories, to no avail. I have presented information to our MSTA board of directors, including the state director of special education, who had been asked to attend. But we have not made any major changes. "It is very difficult to teach math and reading skills to students who are so disabled that toileting, feeding, and language development are more important in their daily life. Our stories would make any teacher want to leave our profession. And many are."" (...) 
To read the complete posting, read here: http://www.nea.org/home/nclbvoices_Maryland.html

Friday, April 27, 2012

MCPS "administrators turn a blind eye to adults smoking on school property"

Staff members who smoke on the loading docks in the back of the building are generating controversy among their colleagues and students. Their cigarette breaks violate MCPS policy COH-EA, which prohibits the sale or use of tobacco on school grounds during the official school day...
Whitman's black&white: Administration should enforce smoking prohibition for staff

"four years of homecoming fundraisers" to fund Wootton - BBYO (B'nai B'rith Youth Organization) Concert

According to a Patch article on the Wootton - BBYO (B'nai B'rith Youth Organization) concert for Saturday evening, "four years of homecoming fundraisers" are being used to fund this concert. (We've been informed that amount would be somewhere around $30,000. But if you have the specific total, please pass it along.  The total cost of this concert according to the Patch article is around $100,000.)


However,  student funds held by schools are not to be stockpiled for years at a time. 


According to Board of Education Policy student funds belong to the student body "currently in attendance" at a school.  


That Policy guarantees that when students raise money, the money raised goes to benefit the actual students that are attending the school at the time of the fundraiser.  Obviously, the students that raised some of this "homecoming money" three and four years ago are long gone from the school and receive no benefit from this event. 

Planners Demand Retraction from Leggett's Director

Were Montgomery County Planners "OK" with County Executive Ike Leggett's back room plan to turn 20 acres of public school land over to a private club? Apparently not.
Planners demand retraction of Leggett Director's statement to Board of Education

Starr's Treks

Not much for a Superintendent to do here in Montgomery County, so Superintendent Joshua Starr has been on the road.


April 18-20, 2012:  Common Ground 2012


April 21-23, 2012:  NSBA Boston

"The state board’s request to close the gap is unreasonable, Starr wrote."

Readers, please note that during Superintendent Jerry Weast's time here in Montgomery County one of his "initiatives" was to shut down alternative high school programs. MCPS doesn't have alternative programs now because Jerry Weast closed them, and the Board of Education approved these closures. 


Superintendent Joshua Starr can put them back.  


Superintendent Starr, it's not the State Board of Education's problem that our local Board rubber stamped some very bad decisions by the previous Superintendent.  But it is your problem to now pick up the pieces.  Cut back on the conferences and focus on the students. There is a lot of work to be done right here. 


Gazette: Maryland State Board of Education’s proposed discipline policies prompt parent concerns

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Promethean Boards for sale at pennies on the dollar

Formerly state-of-the-art Promethean Boards equivalent to the units that MCPS purchased a few years ago for about $5000 each are now available on Ebay for as little as 14 boards for $525. 

You'll need to add a projector and some other components-- most of which are available on Ebay -- but those who are at all technologically astute can put together a complete Promethean Board system for under $400 per classroom.



Parents of disabled children sue California Dept. of Education


On April 23, 2012 two associations of parents of children with disabilities filed a Federal Lawsuit in Sacramento (Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association, et.al. v. CDE;Case # 2:11-cv-03471-KJM-EFB) alleging that the California Department of Education (CDE) is systematically failing to provide California children with their statutory entitlement to a “free appropriate public education.”
 http://www.examiner.com/article/parents-of-disabled-children-sue-california-doe?CID=examiner_alerts_article

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How does MCPS predict school populations?

Tomorrow morning the Montgomery County Planning Board will be taking up the issue of "the methodology used to administer the annual school test as required by the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance."  The discussion is Agenda Item #3.  Coincidentally today's Gazette published an article entitled, "Montgomery school system to use more relocatable Classrooms."  You can read that article here.  Ever wonder why your child attending class in a portable trailer?  Ever wonder why, if you live in Clarksburg, one year after the new public elementary school opened, a portable trailer was required?  For those answers and more, read the Planning Board report, here, or below.  Better yet, comment on the report.  To comment, email the Chair, Ms. Françoise Carrier, at mcp-chairman@mncppc-mc.org.

20120426_BriefingonSchoolsTestMethodology_000

TunedIn and Cross your Legs

Here is some additional advice to folks attending the April 28 TunedIn BBYO concert at Wootton High School in Rockville.

Don't drink a lot of fluids before you enter the stadium.  Alcohol is not permitted for those under the age of 21, and as a civic engagement activity, we expect the students to obey the law. 

But - we caution you not to drink soda, juices or even water before you go.

For a crowd of 3000, estimates on various calculators indicate that an event should have approximately 20 portapotties. 

Wootton's concession stand has some facilities - we estimate that they have about six.

Wootton's budget for the event allows for $500 for portapotties.

According to costowl.com, an event should have one portapotty for every 50 people, and portapotties cost $75 to $150 for a one time event.

Wootton parents and guests - do the math.  Will an additional six portapotties be enough for the crowd?  What about the politicians and the BBYO VIPs from Northern Virginia?

Nice try, Mr. Doran and Ms. Taylor.

You should let your guests know that in addition to not parking in the neighborhoods, they need to cut down on their liquids too.





Academic Fraud at Richard Montgomery High School

The Gazette reported on the complaint by a teacher at Richard Montgomery High School regarding an AP class and the response of the Superintendent's administrators.  Here is the full text of the actual complaint.

Academic Fraud at Richard Montgomery High School

"...actions by the Richard Montgomery leadership are misleading to colleges and universities..."


 Gazette:  Teacher speaks out against combining advanced courses at Richard Montgomery
At Richard Montgomery High School, students in the Middle Years Programme are learning U.S. History in the same class as Advanced Placement students, and one teacher at the school thinks student learning is being sacrificed.
Brian Donlan, a social studies teacher at the Rockville school, issued a formal complaint to the school administration Thursday that accuses the school of labeling the class both AP and MYP to satisfy MYP requirements and offer AP courses. The number of AP students at a school boosts its placement on the Washington Post/Newsweek Challenge Index, which ranks performance of schools nationwide... 
...“I believe the actions by the Richard Montgomery leadership are misleading to colleges and universities about the rigor of courses taken by students,” Donlon wrote in the complaint...
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THIS LINK. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Neighbors Tune Out on TunedIn at Wootton

Here is the email sent around to members of one the the homeowners associations adjacent to Wootton HS and its TunedIn/ BBYO concert this Saturday April 28.

On Saturday, April 28th, Wootton High School will be holding a concert  
titled "Tuned In: Be the Voice that Rocks the World," a concert  
promoting political activism and civic engagement. This concert will  
be featuring many politicians, CNN's John King, and the musical groups  
Timeflies and Third Eye Blind. The Wootton High School Student Council  
is sponsoring this event and has informed us that there will be a  
higher than normal noise level through the evening.  The event will  
start at 8 p.m. and be over by 11:30 p.m.  Please plan accordingly.   
We will be locking the pool parking lot gate to prevent unnecessary  
traffic through the community that evening.
Yes, you are reading it right.  Bring earplugs, lock the gates, the kids from Wootton are coming!!

Wootton HS is such a good neighbor.  Civic engagement?  Political activism?  Not needed, just lock the doors and look the other way.

Two questions.

1.  Why isn't the community selling parking spots for this concert?  I bet the communities could raise enough money from parking at $25 a car to completely fund and outfit the swim team in new gear for the season?

2.  What type of notice went out to the adjacent communities that do not have a homeowners association?   Individual emails or no notice?  Bet those families off Scott Drive and Monterra Court will be surprised - unless they are planning on selling parking spots.

Monday, April 23, 2012

TunedIN - Wootton HS Opens Up

Gotta hand it to those folks at Wootton HS in Rockville.

Dr. Doran and his ace guidance counselor really know how to throw a party.

And, they are so creative with the limited parking at the venue  - even though kids from all over the DC metropolitan area are now coming, for an extra $10 you can get transportation and a tour of the monuments too.

Don't you wish your child could also be a Northern Virginia VIP?

Wootton HS Rock the Vote VIP Package

Stanley to Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The City of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada, is reporting they have named Rollin Stanley as GM of Planning, Development and Assessment.  He will be starting the position in June 2012.  According to the press release he will be moving to Calgary as soon as possible.

To read the complete press release go here.
http://newsroom.calgary.ca/pr/calgary/city-of-calgary-names-general-232401.aspx

City of Calgary names General Manager of Planning, Development & Assessment
April 23, 2012 08:30 AM

The City of Calgary, Canada website - "Newsroom"
(Calgary) – Rollin Stanley, a well-known and visionary municipal planner currently working as the Director of Planning for Montgomery County, Maryland, has been appointed as the General Manager for Planning, Development & Assessment at The City of Calgary. Stanley is expected to begin work in Calgary in June.

“Mr. Stanley brings a wealth of experience in strategic urban growth, department leadership and community and stakeholder partnerships,” said City Manager Owen Tobert. “I am confident that Rollin is the right person to reinvigorate the planning approval process and ignite implementation of the long-range plans that resulted from Plan It Calgary, moving us as an organization and a community in our desired direction.”

MEDIA AVAILABILITY:

Rollin Stanley and Owen Tobert will be available to meet with the media:
Monday, April 23, 2012
9:45 a.m. (at the conclusion of introduction during Council’s regular meeting)
Calgary Power Reception Hall
Historic City Hall

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Updated: [60] Electric Guitars for Students or Travel for Board of Ed. Members

On another posting on this blog you can read about a fundraiser that, according to the comments, is attempting to raise funds for items like electric guitars.  It's not clear if this fundraising is for MCPS or for an outside program, but the comments allude to a deficit in the MCPS music curriculum and a need for musical instruments.


Meanwhile, today at least two three four Montgomery County Board of Education members and the Superintendent are in Boston, Massachusetts at a 3 day convention.  


We don't know how many Board of Education members attended the conference in total.  [Update:  Laura Berthiaume, Shirley Brandman and Chris Barclay are at Boston Convention. That's the equivalent of buying 36 Electric Guitars for students.] 
[Update: Superintendent Starr is also at the Boston Convention.  That's 12 more Electric Guitars!] 
[Update:  Event the Student Member of the Board of Education is in Boston! 12 more Electric Guitars.



But for the two four  five that did attend, the cost of travel, limo to airport, hotel, food and conference fees would buy about 25 50 60 electric guitars for public school students.  



It's a choice. 


And the people that sit at the secret MCPS Operating Budget table have chosen conferences over classrooms. 


That includes the MCEA - the teachers' union - because they are equal partners in the preparation of the MCPS Operating Budget. 


Teachers, why do you chose conferences over classrooms? 
From MCPS Bulletin:"The proposed FY 2011 budget was developed in full partnership with our three employee associations—MCAAP/MCBOA, MCEA and SEIU Local 500—and with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA), who all share the goal of providing a world-class education to all MCPS students." 
“MCEA’s involvement in the budget process is key—it allows the educators of MCPS a direct means of influencing the formulation of the budget,” says Doug Prouty, president of MCEA. “This helps to ensure that resources are directed where they will be most beneficial for students, teachers, and those who support their work.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Civic Fed Annual Awards Banquet


Reserve your tickets now for the
Montgomery County Civic Federation's
2012 ANNUAL AWARDS BANQUET
Friday, May 11, 2012 at the New Fortune Restaurant, Gaithersburg

Honoring

THE WAYNE GOLDSTEIN AWARD - awarded to an individual or group for outstanding public service
to the people of Montgomery County:
The Montgomery Countryside Alliance

THE SENTINEL AWARD – awarded to an individual or group who makes a significant contribution to
good government at the local level:
Zoning Advisory Panel Community Representatives

THE STAR CUP – awarded to the MCCF delegate or committee for outstanding public service to
Montgomery County:
Paula Bienenfeld, Education Chairman

(click to download and print reservation form - complete and mail along with check to address on form)

Meet New Maryland State Superintendent

Maryland State Board of Education today announced that Dr. Lillian M. Lowery, Secretary of Education for the Delaware Department of Education, has been selected the State’s next State Superintendent of Schools.


http://www.dmcouncil.org/membership/member-news/39-lillian-m-lowery-delawares-secretary-of-education

NYC Public School Parents: The Pineapple and the Hare: Pearson's absurd, nonsensical ELA exam, recycled endlessly throughout country

NYC Public School Parents: The Pineapple and the Hare: Pearson's absurd, nonsensical ELA exam, recycled endlessly throughout country

"Pineapple" Question On State English Exam Mystifies Many City Students - NY1.com

"...It turns out students and teachers have been struck by the story for years, as Pearson stuck it in tests from Alabama to Illinois to Florida..."
"Pineapple" Question On State English Exam Mystifies Many City Students - NY1.com

...who is the wisest: “Pearson for getting paid $32 million for recycling this crap.”


Last year the Board of Education sold the "MCPS" name to Pearson Education, Inc for use in the creation of a national K-5 curriculum.  The Board has "partnered" with Pearson in the writing of the curriculum that will be used in MCPS and then sold nationwide. Pearson is developing the tests that will be used in all elementary school grades.
The New York Daily News is reporting on a recent issue with a Pearson test involving a question about a...
TALKING PINEAPPLE...
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/talking-pineapple-question-state-exam-stumps-article-1.1064657#ixzz1sa0ZcbNx

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says Maryland's families and economy would benefit from a later school year start

Chevy Chase Patch:  Speak Out: Should School Start After Labor Day?

MCPS Music Classes are Pay to Play?

Even though public school in Maryland is free under the Constitution, look what is being used to get people to buy tickets to a concert:  
...Remember when you wanted to learn to play rock and roll, but only were offered trumpet, clarinet, or violin? Today, rock and roll classes are everywhere! But if you want to play, you have to pay.
Rock-in Schools is a group of Montgomery County Public School music teachers promoting free access to a complete music education for all students...to include both traditional and contemporary genres...
Who is forcing students to "pay to play" in music classes in Montgomery County Public Schools?  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Administrators Party while Students Pay

MCPS has put out pictures to show that 15 MCPS employees and BOE members attended an awards ceremony in D.C. this week.  The award was actually given to MCPS in 2010, but they were showing up at this year's ceremony too!


The picture on the MCPS Twitter feed shows 15 MCPS people at the event.  There could be more, we don't know.  


What we do know is that to just attend the dinner this evening was $150 per person . $150 x 15 = $2,250)  


If the people in the picture also are attending the 3 day conference their fees  could total around $15,000.  (Let's hope no one was staying at the hotel overnight, but that is not an impossibility.)

This is how the Board of Education chooses to spend your tax dollars.  


Meanwhile, parents of students in the MCPS Learning for Independence program report that they are told to send in money (cash) to their children's classes to pay for curriculum related activities.  (In Maryland, if it is curriculum related a school system cannot charge a fee.)

Next time a MCPS administrator tells you that MCPS can't afford something for your child's education, remind them that it's a choice and that the BOE has chosen perks, award ceremonies, and dinners over classrooms and the needs of children.

Examiner: Parents want MontCo schools to work more with minorities


Parents told Montgomery County school leaders Tuesday that it's time to "walk the walk" and effectively engage the county's growing minority populations in school activities and decisions.What that means, parents say, is a formal process for ethnic and cultural groups to regularly meet with Superintendent Joshua Starr and the county school board.Increased cultural sensitivity training for school staff was also on the agenda."In case you're wondering, I'm white," said Kristin Trible, president of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. "But even being white, I have heard comments by teachers about students' skin colors that were disappointing."Parents also asked Montgomery County Public Schools to announce its support for Maryland's newly revised discipline policy, which recognizes the disproportionate amount of minority students who are suspended and expelled from school.
Article continues at this link.

Gazette: Without subsidy, more kids could be left unprepared


Report shows kindergarten readiness increases in Montgomery; enrollment freeze could hurt gains

Board of Ed. confesses to Open Meetings Act violation

From an April 17, 2012, MCPS Press Release:
The naming committee for a new elementary school in the Downcounty Consortium will meet on Thursday, April 19. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. in the media center of Oakland Terrace Elementary School, 2720 Plyers Mill Road, in Silver Spring......The committee had met previously three times, but two of the meetings were mistakenly not publicly posted. The process is being redone to assure full compliance with the Maryland Open Meetings Act. 
 April 19 Agenda

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Concussion Information



Panelist 
Dr. Gerry Gioia
 
·      Testimony Before Board of Education, Prince Williams County Virginia, April 11, 2011http://www.wtop.com/?nid=41&sid=2339820
 
·      Testimony Before U.S. Congress, House Committee on Education and Labor, September 23, 2010  in support of concussion safety legislation  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlk3naGcArA
 
Dr. Andrew Tucker
 
·      What Parents Need to Know, 60 Minutes Interview, October 11, 2009.http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5377301n

Three Steps to an Artificial Turf Field at Your School According to Michael Doran

1.  Schedule a concert for the school athletic field.

2.  Plan for 3000 guests sitting on the field, don't worry about using those pesky stadium seats.  Also pray for a bit of rain, so the field will really be destroyed.

3.  Go to the County Council and the Maryland National Parks and Planning Commission and beg for a new artificial turf field because of the poor condition of your field.

Ooops, the school has already started begging for the field.  You can read the comments here.  Someone forgot to tell the players about the gameplan.

I knew there must be something more to the politically so incorrect  Wootton HS-TunedIn Rock the Vote concert cosponsored by B'Nai Brith Youth Organization.

Whitman to host Concussion Panel April 19, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Last month I was compelled to send an email to the Whitman community regarding my growing concern about the number of students with concussions we have this year, and I included in my posting some signs of concussions. In response, a Whitman community member, Dr. Michael Singer, met with me to discuss my hopes regarding this subject. I indicated that I was hoping to have an informative evening event for parents, students, and coaches. Dr. Singer volunteered to put together a panel of experts, and he has done a remarkable job. I am writing to invite the Whitman, BCC, and Walter Johnson communities to attend a panel discussion on April 19th from 7:30p.m. to 9 p.m. The experts listed below will discuss their observations and will field questions from the audience. Please join us. 
Sincerely, 
Alan Goodwin,  
Principal, Whitman H.S.
Dr. Andrew Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (NFL) Head Team Physician 
Dr. Leslie Prichep, NYU School of Medicine's Brain Research Laboratories Director 
Dr. Dan Hanley, Johns Hopkins Professor of Neurology, Jeffrey and Harriet Legum Professor of Acute Neurological Medicine 
Dr. David Milzman, Georgetown University Professor of Emergency Medicine, Medical Director, Medstar DC Sports Concussion Center, Whitman parent 
Michael Singer, President and CEO of BrainScope Company, Whitman parent, and moderator for the panel discussion

Examiner: MontCo school layoffs total 160, not 1,300, council says


Montgomery County Public Schools misled parents and the public about the system's budget needs, county lawmakers said Tuesday. 
School system leaders say they had to eliminate about 1,350 positions during the recession, but they fail to mention they have also added nearly 1,200 positions, both teachers and support staff, Montgomery County Council members said. The net loss of jobs is 160 positions, a drop in work force of about 0.7 percent. 
And for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, County Executive Ike Leggett has backed the school board's request to add teacher positions, which would give the school system a net of 229.5 more full-time employees than it had in fiscal 2009.
Examiner article continues at this link.

After feud, Montgomery council to ask school system for additional financial reporting


Gazette:  Inspector General and Council Members: Reports need to be easier to read

With half of the county’s budget going to Montgomery County Public Schools each year, the Montgomery County Council restated on Tuesday its need to know when those funds are — and aren’t — being spent.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tune In at Wootton continues

The Tuned In Wootton HS BBYO event become more curious the closer we get to the event.

This blogger can't figure out what is happening, so I'll be sharing the information as it becomes available.

We know that the school did not apply for a waiver from the noise ordinance in the county.  "Its in the works," according to one source.  Really?  This needs to be filed a month in advance and the community needs to have some notice.

Here is the letter from the SGE and Jennifer Taylor, the SGE sponsor, inviting one group to join in the fun.

This raises another question - is Ms. Taylor getting paid from school system funds to run this event? 

Her contact information is at the bottom of the letter.  The letter says to contact her for more information.

So Ms. Taylor - here is my question - shouldn't a school sponsored civic engagement event play by the rules?  Or are you teaching civil disobedience, by flagrantly flouting the rules that apply outside of the Wootton HS protectorate?

So many questions, so little time.

Service and Advocacy Invitation

Save Rock Creek Hills Park!: Board of Education Votes to Take Rock Creek Hills ...

Save Rock Creek Hills Park!: Board of Education Votes to Take Rock Creek Hills ...: Today the Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the Montgomery County Public Schools proposal to take the site ...

Wootton High School to "Pause" Curriculum

Thanks to an alert reader, we have the following information to add to the information on the rock concert that will take place on April 28, 2012 on the Wootton High School (grass) football field.  (Know that the next Capital Budget request from Wootton HS will be for a million dollar artificial turf because the grass field can't withstand the activity from a rock concert with 3,000 teens.)

Another tidbit from the TunedIn site: (http://www.tunedinmaryland.org/#!press|c19rs) "Monday, April 16th through Wednesday, April 18th ​Wootton High School will temporarily pause all ongoing curriculums and spend three consecutive days teaching about issues relative to the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How did they do that? Correction

Someone pulled a fast one.

Wootton HS Student Government Association is not sponsoring the concert with Third Eye Blind and Timelines.  See http://www.tunedinmaryland.org/#!ticketsandevents|c61v

Anyone can attend.  Silly Wootton students think this concert is for them.

The Wootton Parking lot is wide open. First come, first serve.

Here is what the Tuned In website says about the event.

"TUNED IN is sponsored, in part, by BBYO and is open to all Jewish teens and the entire greater Washington area's Jewish community. BBYO invites all teens, Jewish and otherwise, associated with our coalition partners to join us. Alumni, families, friends and guests are invited to attend. Tickets are $25 each (and each total order has a $1 processing fee). All attendees associated with coalition partners are also welcome to join us and purchase tickets through this site."

With all the celebrity bigwigs - hosted by John King of CNN, and appearances by Councilman Phil Andrews, MD Attorney General Doug Gansler, Sen. Barbara Mikulski's Office, Romney for America Campaign and more - who wants to be left out?
We are anxiously waiting for the Four Eye Blind concert sponsored by PFOX.

How did they do that?

Are you interested in a concert with Third Eye Blind and Timelines?

Sorry, only Wootton students or those connected to a Wootton student can attend this concert.

In an unprecedented partnership, for the second time, Wootton and B'Nai Brith Youth Organization are joining forces to bring this concert to your backyard.

Bring your picnic blankets and camp out on Frost Hill.

Wait, isn't BBYO a faith based organization?

You've got that one right. Here is what the organizers had to say at the first concert in 2008:

The event apparently was unique in another respect as well, according to Ian Kandel, program director of BBYO's D.C. Council. He said it was probably the first partnership in U.S. history between a faith-based organization and a public high school. For that reason, organizers strove to avoid First Amendment problems, in part, by consulting with the organization Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Wootton was chosen because many of its student leaders are also active BBYO participants, according to Kandel, who said the concert reflected a major change in BBYO's outreach philosophy.

The 84-year-old organization . . . is expanding its horizons in an attempt to engage greater numbers of unaffiliated and marginally affiliated Jewish students.

One way of doing that, Kandel explained, is by melding students' core interests (such as social justice-related activities) with the pop-culture scene via the presentation of "exciting social events" in secular venues, such as Wootton.

Thursday's concert culminated a weeklong campaign at the high school aimed at raising students' political awareness and encouraging them to get involved in worthwhile causes in the nonprofit sector.

So - here are my questions.

1. How are the costs and profits divided between MCPS and BBYO?
2. Who holds the liability insurance for the event and is responsible for any damage to Wootton's athletic stadium?
3. Are the permits in order?
4. What about security?
5. Did Americans United for the Separation of Church and State sign off on the 2012 concert?
and most important
6. Will our own Josh Starr be in attendance with all the political hotshots planning to attend?

Students will be arriving at Wootton by shuttle bus that day, so there should be plenty of onsite parking for tailgaters.

Watch those speed cameras on Wootton Parkway and see you on April 28 at Frost Hill.

Inquiring minds want to know - how did they do that?
Wootton High School Online Store

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