Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teachers flip for 'flipped learning' class model

From the Washington Examiner, Jan 27.  To read the entire story go here.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — When Timmy Nguyen comes to his pre-calculus class, he's already learned the day's lesson — he watched it on a short online video prepared by his teacher for homework.
So without a lecture to listen to, he and his classmates at Segerstrom Fundamental High School spend class time doing practice problems in small groups, taking quizzes, explaining the concept to other students, reciting equation formulas in a loud chorus, and making their own videos while teacher Crystal Kirch buzzes from desk to desk to help pupils who are having trouble.

It's a technology-driven teaching method known as "flipped learning" because it flips the time-honored model of classroom lecture and exercises for homework — the lecture becomes homework and class time is for practice.

"It was hard to get used to," said Nguyen, an 11th-grader. "I was like 'why do I have to watch these videos, this is so dumb.' But then I stopped complaining and I learned the material quicker. My grade went from a D to an A."

Flipped learning apparently is catching on in schools across the nation as a younger, more tech-savvy generation of teachers is moving into classrooms. Although the number of "flipped" teachers is hard to ascertain, the online community Flipped Learning Network now has 10,000 members, up from 2,500 a year ago, and training workshops are being held all over the country, said executive director Kari Afstrom.
Under the model, teachers make eight- to 10-minute videos of their lessons using laptops, often simply filming the whiteboard as the teacher makes notations and recording their voice as they explain the concept. The videos are uploaded onto a teacher or school website, or even YouTube, where they can be accessed by students on computers or smartphones as homework.

For pupils lacking easy access to the Internet, teachers copy videos onto DVDs or flash drives. Kids with no home device watch the video on school computers.

Class time is then devoted to practical applications of the lesson — often more creative exercises designed to engage students and deepen their understanding. On a recent afternoon, Kirch's students stood in pairs with one student forming a cone shape with her hands and the other angling an arm so the "cone" was cut into different sections.

Ban Individual Student Testing Forever!

by Joseph Hawkins
Recently, during a Washington Post panel discussion, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing used to evaluate teachers. Click here to read more about the ban proposal.I’m puzzled why this is news.
Starr leads a public school district that does not use student test scores to
evaluate teachers. MCPS already has a moratorium in place, and the moratorium
or practice—or whatever word one wants to use to describe what MCPS does—was in place before Starr came to Montgomery County. And, by the way, I have no
problems with the ban.
With the ban in place, MCPS takes itself out of the running for any of the federal Race to the Top money. But then one could make the argument that MCPS is such a well-funded school district anyway—why bother getting bogged down in those politics? And frankly, no matter how many times Starr publicly says using test scores to evaluate teachers is bad science, he is not really going to change federal policies.
Does Starr really believe President Obama is listening? Click here to read more about Race to the Top.
But, if Starr wants to make real news, why not just propose a permanent and complete ban on standardized testing of individual students in MCPS? (Important: individual here means all or every student.) That’s right—a complete ban. Why stop at three years? With a complete ban in place test results can never be used to evaluate teachers.
And so, I’m all in for the complete ban in exchange for the following:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pearson-MCPS Launch "Highly Rigorous" Curriculum 2.0

Pearson Previews New K-5 Integrated Instructional System at FETC 2013

Highly Rigorous "Forward" Program, Developed in Partnership With Montgomery County Public Schools, Reinvents Teaching and Learnin

Orlando (PRWEB) January 30, 2013
At FETC 2013 today, Pearson announced Forward, the new K-5 instructional system of services, tools and curriculum designed to transform the way that teaching and learning happens. Developed through a public-private partnership between Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and Pearson, Forward integrates instruction across reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies, focusing on the rigors of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), with a strong emphasis on critical thinking, creativity and academic success skills. Based on the concepts of MCPS' highly rigorous program, Curriculum 2.0, Forward integrates the content areas in a way that will save teachers valuable planning time and encourages compelling and engaging teaching.
Commenting on Forward's transformative approach to teaching and learning, Dr. Erick Lang, MCPS's Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instructional Programs, said "Reading and mathematics are essential to a child’s success, but students do better in these subjects when they are well-rounded students. The integrated curriculum renews focus on the whole child and nurtures skills that build confidence and success.”
Lang noted that Forward adheres to the CCSS approach to text complexity, and helps teachers strongly focus on the CCSS for mathematics, deepening students’ conceptual understanding and procedural skills. It also engages students beyond reading and mathematics to spark greater interest in science and social studies. He said, “By encouraging the applications of reading comprehension strategies across science and social studies topics, students are encouraged to progress from learning to read to reading to learn."
Featuring a learning hub of select materials from Pearson's classroom-tested curriculum programs, such as enVisionMATH, Reading Street and Interactive Science, Forward's instructional design encourages students to read earlier and helps them achieve a better understanding of mathematical practices. Students learning with Forward also receive a more robust education with an increased focus on science and civic engagement.
There are two types of assessment in Forward. Content-area formative assessments support the content being taught and are tied directly to Forward’s curriculum in each sample lesson. Forward's Success Skills Assessments nurture and measure student growth around key critical thinking, creative thinking and academic success skills. These activity-based assessments are embedded into the curriculum and engage students in classroom activities that are consistent with the Common Core State Standards.
"The development of Forward reflects a true partnership between Pearson and MCPS. We share the core belief that building a firm foundation and strong critical thinking skills in the elementary grades is the lynchpin to ensuring that students are prepared for success in high school, college and career," said Pearson Senior Vice President Mike Evans. "Now available to schools around the country, Forward provides teachers with a learning environment for helping students become agile thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators and, ultimately, lifelong learners."
Districts interested in implementing Forward will receive support from Pearson
through a combination of on-site and virtual training and professional development for the first three years of implementation.
For more information about Forward, visit
About Pearson
Pearson has as its mission to work side-by-side with states, districts, teachers, students and parents to ensure that every child is prepared for college and career (NYSE: PSO).
For more information, press only:
Kate Miller, Kate.miller(at)pearson(dot)com

Wootton High awaits Montgomery council approval for lead infused artificial turf

Oh my gosh!  Did the Montgomery County Council's Education Committee completely forget to discuss the lead content in the artificial turf plastic field that will be put down at Wootton High School?   Yes, they did. And, what about the testing of the water that runs off the fields?  They must have had to hurry off to a lunch meeting.  Those topics weren't mentioned.

Councilmember Hans Riemer asked for the lead content of FieldTurf artificial turf fields in MCPS in 2011.  But, it's only 2013.  We can wait another 5 or 10 years to get the answer.

Below is the link to the Gazette's coverage of Monday, January 28th's Council Education Committee meeting. Lots of topics were skipped.

Gazette:  Council committee gives its OK to use of private funds to reconstruct field

You can watch the actual video here.

No worries.  This overpriced, lead infused, plastic grass sheet with 120 tons of ground up tires will be installed at Wootton High School this summer. The full Council will approve this project as they have approved all artificial turf projects without reviewing any contracts, bids or evaluating if this project complied in any way, shape or form with Maryland Education Act procurement law.  The "crumb" rubber stamp of approval is ready for action.

Guest Post: Why does FieldTurf have this unreasonable usage restriction in its warranty?

The Parents' Coalition received the following comment from a source in the artificial turf industry.  The poor person doesn't realize that here in Montgomery County our elected officials can't do math and don't like facts.  But, they are trying anyway to get across a point.  So here is their comment: 
Does everyone realize Wootton High School students will only be able to use the field for a max of 2000 hours per year?  According to the deal, the Bethesda Soccer Club is paying $900,000 of the approx. $1.1 million in return for 900-1000 hours / year of use.  The FieldTurf warranty only covers use up to 3,000 hours per year.  A copy of the warranty is part of the Towson University document package that was posted about 1 month ago on the site. 
Let's assume the field is used 300 days per year.  That leaves barely 6 hours per day of use for Wootton students when you also take the 150 hours / year use promised for community use.  If you base the usage on 365 days that leaves 5 hours / day for Wootton students.  Same for Walter Johnson HS students since this "deal" was modeled after that one.  Is this even more than the existing grass field??  Clearly, the actual use will exceed the maximum usage allowed by the FieldTurf and the warranty will be as useless as a screen door on a submarine... 
Why does FieldTurf have this unreasonable usage restriction in its warranty?  Why wouldn't Montgomery County consider other less expensive synthetic turf vendors that do not have this restrictive language in their warranties?  What happens in 8 yrs (if it lasts that long) when the field will need to be removed, disposed and replaced?  Who assumes that very significant cost?  I doubt the Bethesda Soccer Club will be picking up the 500k tab to remove, dispose and replace the turf.  How can the members of the Board of Education neglect to take these very high future costs into consideration?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Penalties for Meetings Have Bipartisan Support

From the great whose reporters are busy covering the session in Annapolis.  Thanks to reporter Ilana Kowarski for this story.  Please email our Montgomery County delegation telling them to support this bill.  To email the House, go here.  And for the Senate, here.  And, thanks to co-sponsor Montgomery County rep Kumar Barve for signing on.

And here is the excerpt from the story:

Del. Dan Morhaim,  D-Baltimore County, introduced a bill Thursday that grants additional enforcement powers to the Open Meetings Compliance Board, allowing it to levy fines and provide court testimony against government bodies that illegally deny people access to public events.

This bipartisan legislation, HB331, has 18 co-sponsors, including House Majority Leader Kumar Barve and 10 other Democrats and Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell and six other Republicans.

Barve said that Morhaim’s bill was a no-brainer.  “Why wouldn’t you support it?” he said, adding that government transparency was an “important issue” to address in this legislative session.

Penalties called necessary
Morhaim has said that financial penalties were necessary to increase compliance with the board’s rulings, which “tend to be ignored” by government officials since the board does not have the power to punish anyone.

When the board discovers the closure of a public meeting, the only thing it can do is to censure those responsible and write letters asking them to reform.  If that does not work, then the burden of enforcement rests on citizens excluded from public meetings, who must sue if they wish to challenge the legitimacy of policies created behind closed doors.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Math Curriculum Information Night Questions from Frederick Stichnoth

January 28, 2013
To:       Dr. Erick J. Lang, 
            Mr. Martin M. Creel,
            Ms. Theresa A. Cepaitis,
            Mr. Edward C. Nolan, Supervisor, Mathematics,
            Michelle Gluck, MCCPTA Gifted Child Committee,
            Laurie Halverson, MCCPTA Curriculum Committee,
            Amanda Graver, MCCPTA Curriculum Committee,
From:    Frederick Stichnoth,
1. “Few.” MCPS’ assertion that few will need compacting indicates intent to minimize the number accessing compacting. What data suggests few would benefit from compacting? How many students are projected to need compacting? How will MCPS monitor that the number of students accessing compacting is minimized?
2. Red zone schools? Sarah Sirgo, Woodlin ES principal, wrote recently “that the math model emphasizes the ‘few’ and it is not expected that all schools in MCPS offer the compacted courses….Once we are able to gather more information about these courses, review the materials (expected to be published by April), and examine our student performance data we will identify whether or not these courses will become part of our math program at Woodlin.” Would MCPS’ “few” criterion exclude whole schools?
3. Equity. “Equity” drove MCPS’ prior acceleration plan and the Math Work Group’s deceleration. How do these upgrades accommodate equity: that access and performance not be predictable by race, ethnicity or socio-economic status? Will disaggregated data regarding access to and performance in the four strands be published?

4. Identification. What is the identification protocol? What input will students and parents have in selecting a strand? Will students be identified only at Grade 3-4 articulation?
5. Grouping. MCPS will offer four strands: grade-level, accelerated and enriched, compacted, remedial. Will all strands be offered in the same classroom through differentiation?
6.  Acceleration and enrichment. The new booklet “Mathematics Program for Grades K-12” states that the K-6 program “contains acceleration and enrichment options that challenge students beyond CCSS.” Parents do not see these options or are dissatisfied with them. Dr. Starr said at the Einstein Town Hall that the options were to have been generated through teacher crowd-sourcing, but this failed. Are these options in place? Are parents aware that their children are receiving these options? Are the options cumulative and coherent, or curriculum blips?
7. Compacted curricula. Compacted curricula are not in “Mathematics Program for Grades K-12” Roll-Out Plan. Does this mean curricula already exist but are unused? Are the compacted curricula to be written by DCI and DEIP or crowd-sourced to teachers?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Video: Council LOVES Overpriced, No-Bid, Lead Infused Plastic Grass!

Click this link ED - 1/28/13 to watch today's Montgomery County Council Education Committee approving a new plastic grass field for Wootton High School.

Here are some quotes from the video:

MCPS Director of Construction James Song: "it's a win-win situation"
"4 months design and permitting through City of Rockville"
"Booster Club submitted a commitment letter"
"Terms and cost are consistent with other projects at Richard Montgomery..."

Councilmember Phil Andrews: "I don't think concerns have proven out at this point, with the exception of extreme heat..."

Valerie Ervin:  "We were asking for certain things to be done..."

Dr. Kathleen Michels:  "lead particulates in the breathing zone" of players
"Who will pay for replacement costs for Richard Montgomery High School?" [Now that partner is gone.]

At the end of the video, did anyone hear Councilmember Ervin call for a vote? No? She just spoke for the committee.  Fascinating how she can read minds.

Lead content in plastic grass field at Blair "acceptable"

Well, that's good to know.

Blair High School Artificial Turf Football Field
Crumb Rubber on a plate on top of plastic grass
We want our kids to have an "acceptable" level of lead in their diet, right?

The Montgomery County Council's Education Committee, that would be Valerie Ervin, Craig Rice and Phil Andrews are fine with the level of lead on plastic football fields.  Today, they approved another no-bid procurement of plastic grass from FieldTurf.  Included in the Committee packet was OF COURSE propaganda from FieldTurf.  Gee, why not.  Let the no-bid vendor submit whatever they want to the Council.  Ignore that there are many other artificial turf vendors.  Who needs competitive bids or competitive product information?

From the Education Committee's packet:
Parks [Montgomery County Department of Parks] stated that fibers from the Blair HS field and the Wheaton Sports Pavilion both were tested and concentrations were "found to be acceptable". 
Remember that there are 120 TONS of crumb rubber on every FieldTurf artificial turf football field.
120 TONS of those little black pellets in the picture above.  Yum.  What goes better with lead, ketchup or mustard?

Plastic Grass for PG

The Washington Post:  Prince George's school board rescinds vote against state bills

The Prince George’s County Board of Education voted to rescind its opposition to a state bill that creates a task force to study the composition of the school board and another measure that requires the installation of artificial turf fields at county high schools...

...Len Lucchi, the board’s lobbyist, told members that Del. Jay Walker (D-Prince George’s), who is sponsoring the turf field bill, is reviewing how Anne Arundel County paid for its fields. Walker’s original bill would have cost the school system $18 million to have the turf fields installed by 2018.
Lucchi said Walker is considering an amendment that would require the money to come from county or open-space funding.
County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) has not take a position on either piece of legislation, according to Christian Rhodes, his education liaison.

Exclusive! SEARCHABLE Starr's FY 2014 Operating Budget!

Here's a document you will only find on the Parents' Coalition blog.

It's a SEARCHABLE copy of the Superintendent's Recommended FY 2014 Operating Budget.

Here is the document that Superintendent Joshua Starr made public:

It's the full budget, all 544 pages.  

But, let's say you want to know if the Superintendent's Recommended Operating Budget makes any mention of artificial turf or Pearson. Try and search the Superintendent Starr document above using your computer.  No luck.  You see, when Superintendent Starr had that copy of his recommended budget loaded to the MCPS website the vast majority of the pages were loaded as IMAGES and are not searchable.  If you want to know what's in that document, you have to read it page by page.

So, the Parents' Coalition has taken the document, scanned it with an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program, converted it to a PDF, and loaded it on to Scribd for your convenience. 

If you want to find a specific word in the Superintendent's Recommended Operating Budget all you need to do is put the word in the Scribd "Search this document" box.  Go ahead.  Give it a try and see what you find! 
Use the document below only!  
Click the link and enter a word in the "Search this document" box.

The Parents' Coalition blog is the ONLY place you will find a searchable copy of Superintendent Starr's FY 2014 Operating Budget.

Note:  Some pages were garbled in the OCR conversion process, but the vast majority of the text is readable, and searchable.  

Why didn't Superintendent Starr make this document searchable in the first place? Why convert all the text pages to IMAGES and post IMAGES to the MCPS website? 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Arnie Duncan: We Must Provide Equal Opportunity in Sports to Students with Disabilities

From U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan, Jan 25, 2013.  To read and post comments, go here.  ED's Guidance is here.

Playing sports at any level—club, intramural, or interscholastic—can be a key part of the school experience and have an immense and lasting impact on a student’s life. Among its many benefits, participation in extracurricular athletic activities promotes socialization, the development of leadership skills, focus, and, of course, physical fitness. It’s no secret that sports helped to shape my life. From a very early age, playing basketball taught me valuable lessons about grit, discipline, and teamwork that are still with me to this day.
Students with disabilities are no different – like their peers without disabilities, these students benefit from participating in sports. But unfortunately, we know that students with disabilities are all too often denied the chance to participate and with it, the respect that comes with inclusion. This is simply wrong. While it’s the coach’s job to pick the best team, students with disabilities must be judged based on their individual abilities, and not excluded because of generalizations, assumptions, prejudices, or stereotypes.  Knowledgeable adults create the possibilities of participation among children and youth both with and without disabilities.

Today, ED’s Office for Civil Rights has released guidance that clarifies existing legal obligations of schools to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate alongside their peers in after-school athletics and clubs. We make clear that schools may not exclude students who have an intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other disability from trying out and playing on a team, if they are otherwise qualified. This guidance builds on a resource document the Department issued in 2011 that provides important information on improving opportunities for children and youth with disabilities to access PE and athletics.

Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide equal opportunities, not give anyone an unfair head start. So schools don’t have to change the essential rules of the game, and they don’t have to do anything that would provide a student with a disability an unfair competitive advantage. But they do need to make reasonable modifications (such as using a laser instead of a starter pistol to start a race so a deaf runner can compete) to ensure that students with disabilities get the very same opportunity to play as everyone else. The guidance issued today will help schools meet this obligation and will allow increasing numbers of kids with disabilities the chance to benefit from playing sports.

Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education

Friday, January 25, 2013

Parent Survey-Autism Services

As most of you know, each year xMinds cosponsors a forum with administrators
from MCPS called "xMinds in MCPS." Four years ago we approached MCPS
administrators and told them that parents weren't receiving complete information
about educational services and placements for their children on the spectrum,
and therefore could not be equal members of their IEP Team. MCPS readily agreed
to participate in a forum to present the placements and services for
diploma-bound students on the spectrum.

The "xMinds in MCPS Forum" is a rare opportunity for parents to meet
administrators face-to-face and learn information that might not be readily
shared by staff at their child's school. In addition, xMinds has expanded its
focus to serving families of children across the spectrum--not just
diploma-bound students. We've seen that determining whether a child is
diploma-bound or not is often a complicated decision that requires tough
choices, but that all students on the spectrum share common challenges in

Please take one minute to complete our survey. It consists of 4 questions and is
completely anonymous. Here is the link:


Staci Daddona
Partnership for Extraordinary Minds

Black People Don’t Listen to Guns N' Roses. (Maybe 10 Do.)

by Joseph Hawkins
Pretty much everything in American life was segregated back in the day. For me, “back in the day” refers to the 1950s and 1960s (my youth).
Even music was segregated. Black people listened to black people’s music on black radio stations and white people listened to white people’s music on white radio stations. Rarely did you hear any crossover.
Well, things changed a lot since my youth, and I like the changes.  But still when it comes to music, a lot remains segregated in some pretty odd way.
In early February, those who watch the Grammys on television will see some of these oddities on display. We probably will not see any black performers or nominees singing country, rock or metal. Nor will we see any white performers or nominees rapping or singing gospel (well, actually it appears as though the music industry managed to segregate gospel music into black and white gospel categories). We sort of just accept these music realities as personal tastes.
If you’re a live music fan—I am—you also will see how segregated the music world can still be from the fan base. I try hard to see a live music performance monthly. In December, when I saw Babyface at the Howard Theatre and Howard Hewett at the Birchmere—both black artists—you could count the white fans on one hand. And when I venture out to see white artists, I’m frequently one of those rare black fans in the audience. That was true when seeing Norah Jones and Sting—on different occasions—live at the Warner Theatre (years ago). My wife looked around at the Jones concert and said, “Are we Norah’s only black fans in the D.C. area?”
Recently, this music segregation thing hit me when listening to What’s the BIG IdeaAccording to this website, “What’s the BIG Idea features in-depth conversations about education from a variety of perspectives. The show is hosted by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) superintendent Dr. Josh Starr and Chris Lloyd, teacher and vice-president of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA).”
So, I’m listening to Episode 3, and at the end of the podcast, Starr, Lloyd and the guest discussed rock bands. Is that a “white” thing?...
article continues at this Patch link

" they need to develop their full potential"

COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education
Public Comment at the Maryland State Board of Education Meeting
December 17, 2012
By Joseph Ganem, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics
I am here to comment on COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education that the Maryland State Board of Education adopted earlier this year. I want to first thank the Board for adopting this regulation. As a lifelong educator, I have come to believe that education works best when it is tailored to address the specific needs of the students.
My interest, as a university professor, is that gifted and talented students throughout the state of Maryland are adequately prepared for the honors classes offered at higher education institutions. At the university where I teach, we provide an alternative pathway for gifted students to meet requirements for bachelors degrees through our Honors Program. This is a series of seminar courses that substitute for the normal general education requirements. The goal is to teach students to become excited by ideas, by providing an academically enriched environment. Exceptional students are challenged to think critically and write eloquently at levels higher than their college peers, in order to become creative and independent learners.
My concern arises from The Final Report of the Commission on Funding and Services for Gifted and Talented Student Education in Maryland, 2001 that found that "Services and resources for the gifted and talented vary dramatically from local school system to LSS in Maryland. Many of Maryland's gifted and talented students do not have access to the programs and services they need." This finding is still accurate today. I recently looked at the Websites of a number of school districts in the state and found wide discrepancies in the programming for GT students.
I believe that all of Maryland's gifted and talented students should have access to the differentiated education services they need in order to reach their full potential. This is why COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education is so important. It states in [.06.  Reporting Requirements] that:
Local school systems shall in accordance with Education Article  §5-401 (c) report in their Bridge to Excellence Master Plans their goals, objectives, and strategies regarding the performance of gifted and talented students along with timelines for implementation and methods for measuring progress.
I urge the Maryland State Board of Education and MSDE to monitor implementation of COMAR 13A.04.07 Gifted and Talented Education and the Master Plan updates to be certain that this COMAR is being implemented as intended so that all Maryland Gifted and Talented Students will have the education they need to develop their full potential.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mayoral critic jailed, barred from City Hall

The Baltimore Sun: Mayoral critic jailed, barred from City Hall

...For example, she has spoken out against tax breaks for developers, the sale of the Senator Theatre, and cell phone towers on city school buildings. She has also collaborated with council members on legislation and participated in council workshops on auditing. It is not unusual for her to confront public officials with questions, and she sometimes loudly interrupts politicians as they're speaking...

Logo Contest for "Real Food for Kids - Montgomery"

"Real Food for Kids – Montgomery" is a grass-roots parent advocacy group working to promote whole, delicious, fresh foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools.
We are having a contest to design a logo for our group with a prize of $50 and invite students in the Montgomery County Schools to enter.

Logo Guidelines

The logo should contain our name "Real Food for Kids - Montgomery," no more than 4 colors and have a white background. The logo should be a scalable vector graphic in EPS format. The logo will be used online, in print and on items like t-shirts and water bottles. Flexibility is a key requirement, including the need to resize easily and to look good in black and white as well as color. No fine line or small detailed areas, as they won't translate well when the logo is reduced. Image integrity to be maintained from a size of 1" square (business card, letterhead, etc) to 8" square (tee shirt, signage) to a max of 12" (banner). The final version of the logo will need to be suitable for high quality printing. Because of the requirement to register the logo as a Trademark, entrants should take care to ensure that their entries are not in any way similar to existing logos or other copyrighted images. We advise against the use of halftones and gradients unless created inside a vector graphics program. The colors should be CMYK, no spot colors. A JPG file 1000 pixels square of the logo is also requested so that entries can be posted to our web site without the need for conversion. The logo should convey the purpose of our group, so appropriate colors and images are recommended.

The deadline for the contest is February 8, 2013. Entries should be submitted to by 5 p.m. on February 8 in a zipped file containing all versions of the logo (EPS black and white, EPS color and JPG color). The e-mail containing the logos should include your full name, the name to which you would like a prize check to be written in the case that your logo is selected, your grade, your school name and your phone number. By entering the contest you give all rights and ownership of your design to "Real Food for Kids - Montgomery." By entering the contest, you also agree to have your name, school and grade mentioned on our Facebook page, web site and in publicity in any media who cover the logo contest.

Please direct any questions to 
You can also visit us on Facebook at ‘Real Food for Kids – Montgomery.’  Thank you!  We look forward to hearing from you!

Balt. City Council Considers Cell Phone Tower Ban on Some Public Buildings

North Baltimore Patch:  Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke wants to ban wireless communication towers on city property used for the "care and education of children."

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke has introduced legislation looking to prevent the city from placing cell phone towers on city owned property, such as parks, schools and recreation centers, that are used for the "care and education of children."
On Monday, Clarke said she wanted to look at banning wireless communication towers from some city owned property because it is unknown if the towers have adverse health effects on children.
"Why take a chance?" Clarke asked.
She said the Montgomery County Board of Education has already taken the steps to ban the towers from being placed on elementary schools and play grounds, and that Baltimore should follow suit...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What We’re Listening To: Mike Petrilli and Josh Starr on Whether the Brightest Students Are Being Challenged

What We’re Listening To: Mike Petrilli and Josh Starr on Whether the Brightest Students Are Being Challenged

Feb 4th: Come hear Superintendent Starr Talk about Social Networks, Policy & Practice!

Attend Superintendent Joshua Starr's Road Show right here in Washington, D.C.  
This is the show that Superintendent Starr can take on the road to education conventions all over the country and the world!  Hear what Superintendent Starr has to say about MCPS when he is not at his job.  
Registration is free for this event.  
The forum will be held in Washington, D.C. 
Click here to Register and receive additional information.

FORUM- Districts' Use of Research to Support Struggling Schools,
 February 4, 2013, 12:00-1:30 PM 
The American Youth Policy Forum will be hosting a series of Capitol Hill forums designed to challenge participants to think differently about how research informs policy and practice.  At this forum, presenters will discuss how research has been used in schools and districts. Researchers Alan J. Daly, University of California, San Diego and Kara S. Finnigan, University of Rochester, will discuss how educators define, use and diffuse research evidence and the importance of social networks in mediating and disseminating evidence. Superintendent Joshua Starr of Montgomery County Public Schools and Ron Rode, the Executive Director of Accountability in San Diego Unified School District, will discuss how this research is being used to support policy and practice in their districts, as well as the larger policy context.
This forum is part of a series of events showcasing a body of work supported by the W.T. Grant Foundation that examines how research is being used in state and local education agencies and in the development of the Common Core State Standards

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why Aren’t I Celebrating?

Guest Post from Real Food for Real Kids - Montgomery.  Their next meeting will be held this Wednesday, Jan 23rd, in Silver Spring.

Why Aren’t I Celebrating? 
I just read an article in the Washington Post on Wednesday, Jan. 16 – DC schools’ director of food services lost his job. Apparently, their operation has been losing $10 million a year. On the other hand, MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS) earned a profit last year of $2 million. Why aren’t I celebrating? DFNS takes in over $42 million in revenue each year, 17% of that from the sale of snack/a la carte items (anything not part of the lunch meal). So, MCPS DFNS earns over $7 million a year by selling what is basically junk food to 150,000 kids. Now there’s a captive market. Every day of the school year in the lunch line at my daughter’s middle school you can purchase: 7 types of ice cream/frozen desserts; strawberry flavored milk (HFCS, artificial color and flavor, 22 g of sugar); Doritos, Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Rice Krispie Treats, cookies, Fruit Wave H20 flavored water (80 calories, 20 g of sugar, the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium); V8 Fusion (more calories and sugar than soda!), and a few other similar items. To round this out, the vending machines in the cafeteria (available all day every school day) sell: Cheetos, Cheez-It’s, Goldfish, Rice Krispie Treats, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Fruit by the Foot, cookies, Kellogg’s Pastry Chips, the aforementioned Fruit Wave H20 flavored water, plus a few other items.  An additional vending machine outside the media center (turned on at 2:40 pm when the school bell rings), sells Doritos, Cheetos, Cheezits, Andy Capp Hot Fries, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, M&M's, Peanut Chews, Reese's Pieces, Caramel Creams, Danish Pastry, plus a few more items.  Next to this is a drink machine stocked with Coke, Diet Coke, Dasani, Coke Cherry, Nestea, Fanta, Sprite, and Barg's Root Beer.  It's a shame for MCPS to waste all that money on nutrition education when they're modeling such abysmal food practices.  If this information concerns you, please consider joining our advocacy group.
"Real Food for Kids - Montgomery" is a grass-roots parent advocacy group promoting whole, delicious, fresh foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools. Formed in October of 2012, we currently have parents representing 25 different elementary, middle, and high schools. We are looking for at least one parent from each of the 202 schools in the county to share their expertise and passion for this issue, and who would be willing to work on a variety of topics including but not limited to: opting out of school snacks; teachers rewarding children with food; free water in the cafeteria; sugar in the schools; vending machines; and processed food. If you are part of a wellness committee in your school, or just a lone crusader, please consider joining us. Our next general meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening, January 23, 2013 from 7:30-9:00 pm in downtown Silver Spring. For more information, exact location of meeting, and to RSVP, email us at

"Disgusting" - Money for individuals with disabilities diverted to artificial turf in Howard County

Delegate Warren Miller speaks to the diversion of tax funds collected through the alcohol tax.   The alcohol tax was sold as a way to raise funds to be used to benefit individuals with disabilities.

Instead, millions of the dollars collected were diverted to install 3 new artificial turf football fields in Howard County.

Delegate Miller says, "I think that's disgusting." 

Listen to video at minute 12:00 for Delegate Miller's comment on the diversion of funds by the Maryland legislature.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

MCPS Superintendent Says Mixed-Ability Grouping is Here to Stay - Education Matters - January-February 2013

MCPS Superintendent Says Mixed-Ability Grouping is Here to Stay - Education Matters - January-February 2013

FREE After School Program at 5 Middle Schools: Are Kids with Special Needs Included?

FYI: Middle School Pilot

Serving Argyle, Clemente, Forest Oak, Loiederman, and Neelsville

Together with the Montgomery County Recreation Department and MCPS, the
Collaboration Council is delivering out of school time (OST) programming that
uses positive youth development practices to promote social, emotional,
intellectual, and physical development. We also ensure program quality through a
strong professional development component for our youth workers. Through this
collaborative effort, every child at five middle schools (Argyle, Loiederman,
Clemente, Forest Oak and Neelsville) now has the opportunity to participate in
OST activities, two and a half hours a day, two to four days a week, for three
10 week sessions which include a hot meal and transportation home—all for FREE
and accessible to ALL.
See our brochure (English and Espanol) describing this
collaborative effort.


Every Child means Every Child, right?
If you have a child at Argyle, Loiederman, Clemente, Forest Oak, or Neelsville
who has special needs, including significant special needs, PLEASE let us know
if your child is being included in this opportunity.

Special Ed Students' Rights Violated during "Social Justice Warrior" Joshua Starr's Tenure

The Maryland State Department of Education conducts investigations into complaints about violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and issues letters of finding. Here are some letters of finding where MSDE found violations of federal law by MCPS since Joshua Starr became superintendent:

September 17, 2012 reference #13-004.

August 16, 2012 reference #12-102

May 29, 2012 reference#12-072

August 3, 2012 reference #12-103

December 2, 2011 reference 12-023

Does "social justice" extend to children with disabilities in MCPS? If so, what is Joshua Starr doing to ensure that these types of violations of federal law do not recur in MCPS?

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Sad news from the community of parents advocating on behalf of their "gifted" children in Montgomery County Public Schools.

The Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County has elected new leadership.  Congratulations to Patrick Dunn and his board.

Unfortunately, with the election of the new leadership, the organization has decided to become part of the solution and not be part of the problem.  The oldtimers advocacy just didn't work.  It was too slow and too cumbersome.  Time to change directions.

Unfortunately, this perspective is a bit naive.  Why is this an either/or situation?  Why must parents decide?  Doesn't strategy depend on the issue?

Years ago, when my kids were starting out in MCPS, I remember getting warnings from the elementary school about joining GTA.  They were too vocal, too contentious, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, etc.  Yet, sitting at PTA meetings and being a good parent just seemed to involve more fundraising on behalf of the school.   Yet, even running the science fair for my then first grade child seemed to get me in trouble.  I was called into the principal's office more than my kids ever were during their entire MCPS careers.

I've learn to work within the system and outside of the system.  Its the only way to survive if you want your child to leave MCPS with a good education and a sane parent.  So I am even further saddened by the views of the current MCCPTA Gifted Child committee chair.  Yes, I too held this position many many years ago - does that mean I am an old timer too? 

Her need to put down other organizations, cross postings to listserves, seems to forget the history of  an organization like Parents Coalition started 'back in the day."  PC was formed by several groups representing the spectrum of educational issues - GT, special ed, curriculum, etc.  Together we believed we could be more effective than if we were vying for the same limited resources.

So, take what you read on GTA letters and from MCCPTA with a pinch of salt, and remember.  Organizations such as Parents Coalition remain as another source of support.  And we will never tell you not to cross post to their lists.


Grades, Achievement Dominate Discussion at MCPS Town Hall in Germantown

Parent: Are Down County Schools Better?
The mom of a kindergartner within the Seneca Valley cluster said she was concerned that her son was at a disadvantage because he didn’t go to what she referred to as one of the “‘W’ schools” — the nationally ranked schools within the Wooton and Walt Whitman clusters down county.
“What is happening to get this cluster more competitive with those?” she asked.
At first, Starr spoke generally, stating that across the board, MCPS schools were high performing and that there tends to be a correlation between demographics and student achievement, with schools in more affluent communities performing better.
Then he said too much attention was placed on competing with others schools.
“I get concerned with the constant comparisons that people are making,” Starr said.
He said the focus should be on the needs of the child, and how the school and the parent can meet those needs...

WTOP: Public gives input on Montgomery County budget

Dear President Obama...

Dear President Obama,I have some advice for you. Let’s start off with better school lunches. I eat three times a day and I don’t look forward to lunch, so I bring lunch. We should at least get real food! They should be healthier and something more than a microwaved box with food. You should also make longer school recesses so there is less childhood obesity. There are just two of my many ideas. I’ll keep sending so watch out for . . .
Your citizen,
Andrew Misura, 10, Potomac
Dear President Obama,I am worried about how early my school starts. My bus shows up around 7 every day. At the beginning of the day, everyone is too tired to actually learn anything. School should start later in the day so that we have a chance to wake up. Education is important because without it, we wouldn’t be able to do things like jobs later in life.
Your friend,
Jessie Gleason, sixth grade, Rockville

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dartmouth ending Advanced Placement credit

Associated Press
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - High school students hoping to earn college credits through Advanced Placement exams soon will be out of luck at Dartmouth College, which has concluded the tests aren't as rigorous as its own classes.
The Ivy League school currently awards credit in some academic subjects for qualifying scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and A-level exams. But after nearly a decade of discussion, faculty recently voted to end the practice starting with the class of 2018.
"The concern that we have is that increasingly, AP has been seen as equivalent to a college-level course, and it really isn't, in our opinion," said Hakan Tell, a classics professor and chairman of the college's Committee on Instruction....

Guest Post: Why is FieldTurf Cheaper for other school systems than MCPS?

Hey - what a minute!  Fieldturf bid $675,000 in Columbus, Ohio to convert a natural grass field to synthetic turf (includes base prep) and a well known competitor bid just $446,000.  Just imagine if Montgomery County put its turf jobs out to a proper, competitive bid process.  All of a sudden those $1.2 million dollar fields turn into $446,000 projects - a savings of over $700,000 per field!

That $700,000 (per field) would sure go a long way towards funding tutoring for special education students...

...Figures compiled by head football coach Kurt Frenzen showed adding Sprinturf or FieldTurf would cost $446,000 and $675,000, respectively, over the first 12 years with long-term replacement costs of $200,000-plus and $325,000...

Slap penalty on Open Meetings Act violators - The Frederick News-Post Online

Slap penalty on Open Meetings Act violators - The Frederick News-Post Online

PTA Membership Tanking

As MCPS enrollment has increased, PTA membership has been dropping. Note that PTA double or triple counts members that join multiple PTAs and counts multiple parents from the same family.  

MCPS enrollment 2012-2013: 146,459

Maryland State Public School enrollment 2012-2013: 854,086

Gazette:  Montgomery PTAs add members by adding fun

From the article  MCCPTA membership
So far, countywide membership is up nearly 3,000 over this time last year, at 39,419 as of Dec. 31 compared to 36,639 last year, Loebach said.

Maryland State PTA membership:
The state also expects its membership to grow this year, said Rita Lowman, president of Maryland PTA. Statewide membership has dropped from 206,664 members five years ago to 181,000 members last year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Parents' Coalition Book Club: BudgetPalooza

2,217,247,656 DOLLARS

149,018 STUDENTS



Come Join the Parents' Coalition,
the Montgomery County Civic Federation, and
the Montgomery County Taxpayers League
for the First Annual Budgetpalooza

February 6th
7-9 pm
Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville, First Floor Meeting Room

Come for an open discussion as we go chapter by chapter through the MCPS Proposed FY14 Budget.

Hashtag #Budgetpalooza

Montgomery College cancels county high school dropout program

Gazzette:  Success rate didn’t justify cost

...If Rebecca Wood had not been given help five years ago, she says she would have probably dropped out of Albert Einstein High School.It is because of Gateway to College, a high-school-to-college intervention program, that Wood said she has a diploma and is now at a competitive, out-of-state college working on her bachelor’s degree.But what worked for Wood has not worked for all students.Gateway to College will no longer be offered at Montgomery College after December 2015, and no more students will be enrolled next school year, said Don Pearl, the college’s senior vice president of academic affairs... 
...Out of nearly 1,000 students who entered the program since 2004, 120 students received a high school diploma, Pearl said.“You look at the number of students who started and completed, and you have to start asking questions,” Pearl said.Gateway to College began in Montgomery College, and other colleges nationwide, through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship Foundation; about 33 colleges in 20 states have the program currently.After the original grant expired, Montgomery College absorbed the program costs, Pearl said. In fiscal 2012, about $1.4 million went to the program...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today: BOE Policy Committee on Special Ed Dispute Resolution

January 15, 2013

2:30 pm
Room 120

1. Call to Order
2. Approval of Minutes
3. Discussion of Policy BLC, Procedures for Review and Resolution of
Special Education Disputes – Zvi Greismann (2:35) 20 minutes

(As an aside, if anyone is still interested in seeing the video of Zvi Greismann
discoursing on special education dispute resolution, please contact us directly
and we can set up a time to view the video of his "performance" at the LRP
convention. A transcript is already available on McNeeds, but the visual
itself is pretty remarkable.)

Silver Chips Online: New MCPS math curriculum sparks concern

Parents and teachers worried Curriculum 2.0 inhibits advancement

Monday, January 14, 2013

99% Public Funding, But No Money for Special Education Students

Remember back to November 26, 2012, when a MCPS parent asked Superintendent Joshua Starr why the George B. Thomas Learning Academy aka Saturday School did not tutor children with special education needs.  Superintendent Starr blamed the George B. Thomas Academy for not asking for money for special education tutoring.  But, doesn't the funding that the George B. Thomas Academy already receives cover students with special education tutoring needs?  
We learn from the most recent 990 filed by the George B. Thomas Academy that the Academy is 99% publicly funded! Annual income for 2010 was $1,843,884
Yet, students with special education needs are excluded from receiving services at this 99% publicly funded program?  
Superintendent Starr, please explain how this publicly funded program can discriminate against students with special education needs.  You can Tweet your answer or hold a book club. Either way, you need to address the failure of this publicly funded program to serve students with special education needs.    

Sunday, January 13, 2013

When will Council Stand up to the Board of Education?

Councilmember Phil Andrews writes in today's Washington Post:  

When will Montgomery stand up to Annapolis?

Councilmember Andrews must have forgotten that just 2 months ago the Montgomery County Council handed over $2,042,000 to the Board of Education without any documentation.  

The Board asked for $2,042,000 in County funds and without producing any contracts or verification for the requested procurement the County Council, including Councilmember Andrews, raised their hands in agreement to turn the $2,042,000 to the Board of Education.  

That money could have been used by the Council for any purpose; libraries, police, fire, or health services.  But, instead the Council, along with Councilmember Andrews, chose to hand that money over to the Board of Education without any documentation.

Now, Councilmember Andrews asks the Montgomery County Delegation to "stand up", something that he is unable to do in his own elected position.  If he can throw around $2,042,000 like it is Monopoly money, why does he expect anything more from the elected officials in Annapolis?