Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kemp Mill parents concerned

SILVER SPRING – Parents of students at Kemp Mill elementary school say they aren’t happy with the recent settlement of a lawsuit leveled against the school’s principal.
The embattled principal was accused in a lawsuit by six former teachers of targeting them by fabricating false personnel records because they reported to superiors that principal Floyd Starnes was taking children into closets for 30 minutes at a time, assaulting and inappropriately touching male teachers and violating federal and state laws by failing to provide adequate services to special education students.
One parent, who asked that her name not be used in order to maintain the privacy of her family, said she believes her son was a victim of bullying from other students at Kemp Mill and was abused at the school.
During the spring 2008 semester, when her son was in second grade, the parent said the school called to have her pick up her son. When she arrived at the school, staff told her that her son was taken into a closet because of behavioral issues. She said her son did not have a history of throwing temper tantrums, and when shown the damage to the walls caused by her son’s black boots, she told the staff she would have her son clean up the mess. She said Assistant Principal Cheryl Smith told her that her son was not allowed in the closet.
“Already I thought something was up,” she said. “You put him in there and now he is not allowed in there?”
The mother said her son would not talk about what happened in the closet, and he never wore his black boots again. She said her son went into a deep depression, and she decided to apply to have her son transferred to another school. When the transfer was denied, her son “went insane.” He began telling his mother he wanted to hurt himself. At that point, the child began seeing a psychologist regularly...

continues at this link:  The Sentinel

Marketing the Dream - MCPS Staff on the National Conference Circuit

National Conference

Bridging the Gap Between K-12 and Beyond

Dates: June 27-29, 2013
Location: San Antonio, TX
Book the hotel for a discounted rate of $169 a night. Offer ends June 4th.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pearson Field tests’ raise concerns that school tests are now a corporate product

A new packet of shrink-wrapped state tests will arrive at hundreds of elementary and middle schools across the region this week.
But these 40-minute tests given in early June won’t count for students or teachers. They’ll test whether a private contractor, Pearson Education, hit the mark when it developed multiple-choice questions for state exams.
It’s exactly the kind of class time parents such as Daniel Kasprzak think could be better spent.
“Basically, we have our children as child labor determining and enhancing the product for Pearson,” said Kasprzak, a City of Tonawanda resident who held his third-grade daughter out of state math and English exams this spring and will not allow her to take the upcoming field tests...

Starr's Next Cell Tower Compound! Meeting June 4th at 7 PM Neelsville Middle School


Daly Elementary School playground
Germantown, MD
Superintendent Joshua Starr wants to put another cell tower at another red zone middle school. 

The one and only meeting for parents, staff and neighbors has been scheduled for:

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 7 PM
Media Center
Verizon will be presenting their plan for the construction
 of a cell tower compound at the school. 

Gazette: ACLU sees progress in Damascus student’s Pledge case

Group expects to meet with school officials to discuss issue


Guest Post: Put Teeth in Gifted and Talented Laws

TALENT ACT
Frederick Stichnoth, fred.stichnoth@...
May 2, 2013
            We can put teeth behind the GT laws already on the books at the MCPS and State levels. More teeth means it's more likely that MCPS will serve GT kids.
            GTA and GCC. Our two local GT organizations should put this on their websites and get behind the effort.  
            Contact U.S. Congress: request co-sponsor. The Talent Act has been introduced in the U.S. Senate (by Senator Mikulski and two other Senators). The Talent Act is expected to be introduced in the House within the next week or so.
            We can support it by asking Senator Cardin to co-sponsor the bill:
509 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4524
            Then, when the bill is introduced in the House, we should ask our Representatives to co-sponsor the bill (click on the Representative's name to get email access):
District
Name
Party
Phone
1
R
202-225-5311
2
D
202-225-3061
3
D
202-225-4016
4
D
202-225-8699
5
D
202-225-4131
6
D
202-225-2721
7
D
202-225-4741
8
D
202-225-5341
Another way to send these emails is through the Council for Exceptional Children on-line email message platform:http://capwiz.com/cek/issues/alert/?alertid=62497466
           
    What does the Talent Act do? The Talent Act supports professional development for GT teachers, requires MSDE and MCPS to include in their Title 1 plans steps they will take to support GT services, requires more GT performance data transparency, and supports GT research and development.
           
    The Talent Act specifically focuses on African-American, Hispanic and FARMS students (it even defines “excellence gap”), and it extends to GT students (whether or not identified) in general.  The Act notes that GT students make up 6-10 percent of students (correcting MCPS 3 or 40 percent).
           
Links to more info.
NAGC Talent Act webpage: http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=7804

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where is the Public Statement from the George B. Thomas Learning Center?

Students with learning disabilities are not welcome to use the publicly funded George B. Thomas Learning Center (Saturday School). Here's one parent's public statement about attempts to enroll students with special education learning issues in the program.

Councilmember George Leventhal asked the GBTLC Executive Director about this issue (See Facebook message below).  The personal response he got was that the program is open to all students.  But, that response doesn't align with the reality that parents have faced when they tried to enroll their child in the program.

Thanks for asking Councilmember Leventhal, but we need a public statement from this publicly funded tutoring service.  We need to see the statement on the GBTLC website.  No side conversations, no private exchanges of information, we need a public announcement from this organization that they are going to comply with federal law and provide services to ALL MCPS students.

May 6, 2013 Facebook postings


Monday, May 27, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Exclusive Chart: All First Semester Grade Level Courses Final Exam Grades

This chart is a compilation of the data that has been released to date for the countywide
 exam grades for the first semester of the 2012-2013 school year for on level classes.
Honors classes are not included on this chart. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Exclusive Chart: First Semester English Countywide Exam Grades



Exclusive Chart: First Semester Final Exams



Breaking News: Starr Dumps More Bad News on Holiday Weekend

What's the "mindset" behind Superintendent Joshua Starr dumping terrible news on Friday afternoons?  Is he hoping that Montgomery County parents won't notice? 

Here's the latest Friday afternoon data dump:  First semester final exam grades in Government, Honors Government, Modern World History, Honors Mod. World History, Biology and Honors Biology.
And, final exam grades in 8 different English classes. 

Have a nice Memorial Day Weekend and by Tuesday, May 28th, please forget you ever saw this data.


The Washington Post:  Large percentages of Montgomery students fail final exams in English, history and biology


Friday, May 24, 2013

Students need to stop being pressured into AP exams

Students need to stop being pressured into AP exams

Federal audit finds city schools misspent stimulus, Title I funds

Federal audit finds city schools misspent stimulus, Title I funds

Auditors found that Prince George's County spent stimulus and Title I funds on items such as $8,376 worth of gifts for staff who attended a principals' meeting, a personal refrigerator and microwave for a budget administrator, and $108,882 for unapproved travel.

French Nat'l Assembly Votes to Keep Electromagnetic Waves Away From Schools

 Protect children from electromagnetic waves: this is the spirit of the amendment voted by the National Assembly on 19 March 2013, as part of the bill for the "rebuilding the schools of the Republic." 
The amendment states that the implementation of the public service provided by digital educational text should be encouraging connections "wired", that is to say, with Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi
MPs environmentalists behind this amendment, wanted to "push the state and local governments to protect children, especially younger ones, the influence of waves" in the name of precaution...
http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?ref=SERP&br=ro&mkt=en-US&dl=en&lp=FR_EN&a=http%3a%2f%2fwww.allodocteurs.fr%2factualite-sante-les-ondes-electromagnetiques-tenues-a-distance-des-ecoles-9857.asp%3f1%3d1

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Exclusive: BOE Committee Questions about Special Education

On May 22, 2013, the Montgomery County Board of Education Special Populations Committee met. Their Agenda is here.

The Parents' Coalition's Danuta Wilson attended this meeting and is making the notes from this meeting available to the public.  You won't find this information on the BOE website.

Here's what the BOE's Special Populations Committee discussed at this meeting:

Washington area spends big bucks on its students | WashingtonExaminer.com

Washington area spends big bucks on its students | WashingtonExaminer.com

ACLU Slams Montgomery County Schools For Refusing to Discuss How to Stop Pledge of Allegiance Harassment

Now here's a shock. The ACLU got a dismissive response from the lawyer for MCPS.  Well, ACLU, join the club.  The BOE pays top dollar for outside counsel to write those dismissive responses that get the BOE in more trouble than when the issue started.  

DAMASCUS, Md. – Troubled by a dismissive response from the lawyer for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to the ACLU’s April 9, 2013 letter concerning a pattern of harassment experienced by MCPS students who decline to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance (Pledge), the ACLU renewed its call for a meaningful dialogue with the school system to discuss how to ensure that students’ First Amendment rights are honored by teachers and administrators. The letter sent today to the Superintendent follows up on the call for a meeting prompted by the latest such incident, brought to MCPS’s attention last month, which involved intimidation and harassment directed at a Damascus High 10th grader who declined to participate in the Pledge as a way of expressing her opposition to U.S. government policies concerning Puerto Rico, where her family is from...
...On behalf of the school system, attorney Judith Bresler asserts that school officials did nothing wrong in confronting Ms. Siurano-Rodriguez, denies that there is any systemic problem, and has refused to respond to our request for a meeting with MCPS staff to discuss our larger concerns, or to detail what steps have been or will be taken to meaningfully address the repeated complaints...
 http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/aclu-slams-montgomery-county-schools-refusing-discuss-how-stop-pledge-allegiance

NYT: The Michael Moore of the Grade-School Lunchroom

...Like many things in the life of a fourth grader, Zachary’s movie started as a dispute with his parents. He told them that he wanted to start packing his own lunch, but they were skeptical. Lunch is free at his school, P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto in Little Italy, and his parents liked the look of the Department of Education’s online menus, which describe delicious meals, full of whole grains and fresh vegetables, some even designed by celebrity chefs...

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-michael-moore-of-the-grade-school-lunchroom/?smid=fb-share

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pearson agrees $75 million settlement in U.S. e-books case

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-pearson-ebookbre94l0kh-20130522,0,1068164.story

Cell Tower Compound Built Where School Needs to Go

School district data show several over capacity
A coalition of Gaithersburg parents is pushing for the construction of a new elementary school to relieve overcrowding at four Montgomery County public schools. 
Cory Siansky, a city resident with two children at Gaithersburg Elementary School, said overcrowding is affecting the school’s students. 
“They’re over capacity in every measurable way,” he said. “What we’re seeing now is that the core functions of the school are strained.”
Siansky said long lines to buy lunch at Gaithersburg Elementary School are consuming the scheduled lunch period, keeping students from having enough time to eat. Multiple classes use the school gym simultaneously, he said, and an additional kindergarten class will be added in the fall...
Siansky testified at a Montgomery County Public Schools board meeting on April 23 that four overpopulated schools — Gaithersburg, Strawberry Knoll, Flower Hill and Judith Resnik Elementary schools — would benefit from the construction of a fifth school on a piece of land owned by Montgomery County Public Schools. The space, known to the school district as the Woodwards Road site, is located near 8700 Emory Grove Road, outside the boundaries of the City of Gaithersburg.

 http://www.gazette.net/article/20130522/NEWS/130529732/1022/parents-fear-overcrowding-at-gaithersburg-elementary-schools&template=gazette

Gazette: Montgomery’s first charter school operates under the school board’s radar

Contract requirements not yet met, board has yet to be updated
Community Montessori Charter School faced an initial rejection and then much scrutiny from Montgomery County school board members two years ago when applying to be the first public charter school in the county. 
Yet in its first school year, the school has had little oversight by school board members. It lacks a certified principal. And the building does not meet all federal and local building and health codes...
 http://www.gazette.net/article/20130522/NEWS/130529725/1124/montgomery-x2019-s-first-charter-school-operates-under-the-school&template=gazette

Soon to be a movie..."The Unions in Montgomery County Public Schools"

Find out what goes on behind closed doors in Montgomery County Public Schools.  Remember, union negotiations with MCPS are held in secret budget meetings, not at the BOE table under the Maryland Open Meetings Act.  But, Harvard has the inside story.  Don't miss the stunning conclusion.
The case, “The Unions in Montgomery County Public Schools,” recounts one large, urban-suburban district’s successful efforts to partner with its three labor unions in order to increase student learning. This case follows the evolution of district-union relations as the parties representing each of the three employee groups negotiated contracts. It recounts a bitter fight about the education budget, which pitted the district and its unions against the county government. The case can be used with current and aspiring school, district, and union leaders.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Serious Pedestrian Collision in Rockville Involved a School Bus

http://www.mymcpnews.com/2013/05/21/serious-pedestrian-collision-in-rockville-involved-a-school-bus/

WBAL: Board of Ed. approves new concussion regulations | Education Alert - WBAL Home

Board of Ed. approves new concussion regulations | Education Alert - WBAL Home

Fox 5: Math exam failure rates

Math exam failure rates: A high percentage of high school students in Montgomery County are failing their math final exams. Dr. Joshua Starr, Superintendent of Montgomery County schools, joined us with more.

DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

Piney Orchard cell tower plan on hold - : News

Piney Orchard cell tower plan on hold - : News

The Daily Record: Parents fight plans for disguised wireless tower at elementary school

More than 100 parents and other community residents are fighting plans for a wireless tower to be constructed on the grounds of a public elementary school, one of the first to stem from a master agreement signed last year by the Anne Arundel County Board of Education...

Breaking News: State BOE Unanimously Adopts Concussion Regulations

...Thomas Hearn, the parent of a Montgomery County football player who sustained a concussion and has lobbied the state board to strengthen its regulations, called the new regulations "a positive step forward."
Hearn said that while he doesn't believe Montgomery County is as receptive to sports safety measures, he was happy the state took action.
"That puts them on a collision course with the state board of education, so we'll see," Hearn said. "But definitely a step forward."
Board members agreed and urged the state to now begin looking at preventive measures...
 The Baltimore Sun:  http://touch.baltimoresun.com/#section/822/article/p2p-76005736/

The Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/maryland-board-adopts-regulations-to-better-protect-student-athletes-from-concussions/2013/05/21/6677ad16-c258-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html

Doug Duncan's "no brainer" Cell Tower Deal is Opposed by Parents and Neighbors

We have previously reported that former Montgomery County Executive and current candidate for re-election Doug Duncan was promoting what he called a "no brainer" deal for placing cell tower compounds on public school playgrounds.    The company that Mr. Duncan was promoting was Virginia based Milestone Communications.  

Anne Arundel County's Board of Education signed the "no brainer" deal with Milestone Communications last year, and last night the first elementary school in the County to be slated for a 2-3 cell tower compound on its playground responded to the "deal".  

Odenton-Severn Patch: Residents Speak Out Against Cell Phone Tower 
About 100 people gather at the library, largely in opposition to the plan to put a tower on the grounds of Piney Orchard Elementary School 
Many residents of Piney Orchard said they opposed a plan to place a wireless communications tower at the community's elementary school, raising concerns about property values and health.
About 100 packed into a room at the West County Area Library on Monday evening and heard from officials from Milestone Communications and Verizon, who have proposed building a 99-foot monopole behind the school...
 http://odenton.patch.com/articles/residents-speak-out-against-cell-phone-tower



Starr's MCBRE Blocks Parents' Coalition from Twitter Feed

When the Parents' Coalition Twitter Account tries to Follow MCBRE's Twitter feed, this is the message we get. We have been blocked.

 How much MCPS Operating Budget funding is going to MCBRE? Anyone know?


Monday, May 20, 2013

The Washington Post: Montgomery considers multiple factors in math exam failure rates

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-considers-multiple-factors-in-math-exam-failure-rates/2013/05/19/3a8af27a-be4e-11e2-9b09-1638acc3942e_story.html

"Child loves math, but way teacher teaches doesn't apply to him."



Transcript:

"Thank you Dr Starr, I'm the parent of a high school student in Montgomery Public Schools. 

The way teachers teach and educate our students is very closely related and I think this is very important.

My child loves math but the way the teacher teaches does not apply to him so he is having a very hard time.


But my child is very shy so he couldn't stand up and ask for help or ask for any other support.


I'm Oriental / Korean and our culture is very... if we ask those kinds of questions to teh teacher, to our culture this is very rude.

He is very shy so he couldn't even ask the counselors.

So he had a really hard time and he struggled for the whole semester.

I understand a student has idea to change the class but if there is any way that we can get (students and parents) can get written notification regarding class changes or a drop of the class, any kind of information regarding class that would be really appreciated since as a parent I didn't get any idea and I didn't know what to do and how can I help my child?

Thank you, Starr."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

WTOP: Montgomery Co. math failure rates spark outrage, plans

http://www.wtop.com/52/3329101/Montgomery-Co-math-failure-rates-spark-outrage-plans

Anne Arundel Residents: Tell Verizon Wireless - We don't want a cell phone tower at Elementary School

Verizon Wireless has proposed to erect a 99 foot tall cell phone tower on Piney Orchard Elementary School property. Many parents whose children attend the elementary school, as well as many residents who live in the surrounding neighborhoods are strongly opposed to installing a cell phone tower in this location...
http://www.change.org/petitions/piney-orchard-residents-tell-verizon-wireless-we-don-t-want-a-cell-phone-tower-at-piney-orchard-elementary-school....

Friday, May 17, 2013

Breaking News! Math Exam Failures have gotten worse over 5 years

Breaking News! Math Exam Grade Data by Race and Special Ed and English as Second Language

Breaking News! School by School Math Final Exam and Course Grade Data

More Excuses: Starr Blames the Economy for Math Exam Failures

More from the May 14, 2013, Board of Education meeting discussion of the revelation that significant numbers of high school students fail their county wide math exams.

WJ High School Parent: Start School Later!



Watch the video first, then read the Audit:

Superintendent Joshua Starr may not be familiar with what the State of Maryland Audit said about MCPS transportation routing procedures.  The 2009 State Audit (see page 45) found ways that the MCPS bus service could be improved.  The MCPS response?  "We do not agree."


Maryland State Audit Recommendation 14 (see page 8)
MCPS should enhance existing policies to address all appropriate factors that impact bus routing.  MCPS should also use the automated routing software in conjunction with other relevant information to help improve the efficiency of bus routes. In this regard, MCPS should consider changing its policy by requiring students to ride a specific bus route.

MCPS Response 
MCPS agrees and is committed to addressing all factors that will improve the efficiency of bus routes. The Department of Transportation utilizes an annual process of reviewing all routes. This process requires depot supervisors and routers to analyze all regular education bus routes for safety and efficiency. All factors contributing to safety and route efficiency are considered, including student load, mileage, ride time, and stop locations. Information is obtained from a variety of sources, including the computer assisted routing program, MapNet. As these factors are considered, recommendations for safety and efficiency improvements are formulated.
Following this process at the depot level, the depot and routing staff are required to present review results to a panel consisting of the director, assistant director, and bus operations manager. When recommended route improvements are approved by the department director, a timeline for implementation is established. A study is under way to determine if this process would be effective in reviewing special education bus routes.

We do not agree with the recommendation that students should be required to ride a specific bus route. The Department of Transportation has previously considered assigning students to specific routes and stops, but has rejected this idea. Accurately assigning students to specific stops would require maintaining data on the pick-up and drop-off address. MCPS has experience doing this with special education students, where students are assigned to specific stops. This is
a very labor intensive process. In addition, changes to initial student information are received for 50 percent of the students on an annual basis. In regular education, it is much more efficient to publish stop locations and allow students to use the stop that works best for them. In addition, assigning students to a specific stop is not possible since we do not know about day care arrangements or other places students may be before or after school. One variable that is not
known until school starts is how many eligible bus riders will use some other form of transportation to get to and from school. Many parents drive students to school. Because this number is hard to predict, it sometimes leads to over- or under-loaded buses. Adjustments are made shortly after the school year starts. Allowing families to choose a bus stop accommodates family needs and provides greater customer service.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Teachers at Kemp Mill settle


...By law the Board of Education must approve all payments greater than $25,000, but Patricia Via, chief for the county’s division of litigation which represented Starnes and the school system, said there is no requirement for the money agreed to in the settlement to go before the Board of Education for a vote of approval because the Board carries comprehensive liability insurance to protect itself and employees, as required by state law.
“Under that statute, the BOE is self-insured up to $100,000 per occurrence,” Via said. “The Board participates in the Montgomery County Self-Insurance Program and any settlements or judgments are paid through the Self-Insurance Program within the Board’s self-insurance limits.”
An occurrence, Via said, does not refer to the number of plaintiffs. In this case, she said, there was one occurrence and the maximum amount offered in a settlement would be $100,000...
article continues at this link  The Sentinel

No Jail Time for Former MCPS Employee, Washington Post Reports


Former Montgomery County school employee given probation in sex-offense case
By Dan Morse, Published: May 15, Washington Post



A former Montgomery County school employee was sentenced to five years of supervised probation Wednesday for grabbing the buttocks of two teenage students and exposing his buttocks to a third.

Aaron LaMere, 41, also was ordered to complete at least 18 months of “psychosexual” therapy as part of his sentence.

LaMere worked as a media-services technician at Northwood High School in Silver Spring. He resigned in 2012, a short time before he was arrested in the case, according to court records.

To read the whole Washington Post article, CLICK HERE.

High school keeps AP scores after cellphone video | WashingtonExaminer.com

High school keeps AP scores after cellphone video | WashingtonExaminer.com

Ding Dong! Apple Ballot Handler Out!

The majority of MCPS Board of Education members, with the notable exception of Rebecca Smondrowski, were picked for their seats by a MCEA staff member named Jon Gerson.  For years Mr. Gerson would pick candidates and then bring them to the MCEA Board (Teachers' union) for "approval" prior to any other candidates even filing to run. It was impossible for the MCEA Board to evaluate all the candidates for any BOE seat when they were only offered one "choice".  

The Jon Gerson choice would then be placed on the "Apple Ballot" and citizens from all over the county "thought" they were voting for the teachers' picks.  MCEA would hire staff to stand at the polling places to hand out the "teachers' ballot". Again, citizens believed that all of the people handing out these ballots were MCPS teachers and they wanted to support their local teachers.  

Mr. Gerson was also privy to the discussions at the MCPS Secret Budget table and, for example, knew about the 2008 behind closed doors purchase of $14 million+ in Promethean Boards while teachers lost pay. 

According to this article in Center Maryland, Mr. Gerson will no longer be running the Apple Ballot for the teachers' union. 


Josh Kurtz: Union Powerbroker Taking New Role
A major power in Montgomery County politics is stepping aside this campaign season.
Jon Gerson, the longtime – and controversial – political director of the county teachers’ union is no longer serving in that capacity. While he remains employed by the union, serving on its School Assistance Team, focusing on new teachers, he will no longer be part of the political operation...
...A shrewd political operator, Gerson, 55, knows where all the political bodies are buried in Montgomery County and how to work the levers of power...

...But Gerson became an increasingly divisive figure during his time at the union, with an enemies list topped by, but not limited to, the editorial writers at The Washington Post, which has a long history of hostility to organized labor – and to public employee unions especially.
Despite MCEA’s occasional hardball tactics, a recommendation on the union’s “Apple Ballot,” which Gerson trademarked, remains highly coveted in Montgomery County races – rivaled only by the Post’s endorsement – and the union’s preferred candidates always prevail at an admirable rate (44 of 47 endorsed candidates won their primaries in 2010)....

Starr Blames Weast, Budget, Professional Development, Culture... for What Went Wrong with Math Exam Grades

Superintendent Joshua Starr:
   "...Data in isolation is completely useless..."

Superintendent Joshua Starr has been in charge of MCPS for 2 years.  However, he is only now discussing the ongoing fact that vast numbers of students fail the County wide end of semester exams.
These grades were a problem when he arrived yet, he did nothing about it.  It is only because one principal leaked the exam scores that Starr is now forced to explain these massive failures.

Listen to his excuses from the May 14, 2013, Board of Education meeting in the video clip below.

Listen to Starr complain about the release of the math exam data as "useless".

And, guess what? Pearson/MCPS Curriculum 2.0 will solve everything! And, work groups - more work groups will fix it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Educational Malpractice" says former MCPS BOE member on math exams

The first student member of the MCPS Board of Education presented public comment at today's BOE meeting, but now from the position of a parent.

What will be "done for current students" taking these  exams in just a few weeks?
It is "likely the school system's failure."
"Self-inflicted wounds that the school system is giving to its own students."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Gazette: Failure rates for Montgomery students on math finals go back nearly a decade

Montgomery County school board members are concerned about the high percentage of high school students who are failing their math final exams, especially after realizing that this has issue has gone unaddressed for years.
A 2004 report by Montgomery County Public Schools’ Office of Shared Accountability shows that close to half of high school students taking grade-level courses such as algebra, geometry and biology failed their first semester exam that school year.
The data is similar to countywide results from the first final exam this school year that was released publicly a few weeks ago after parents and principals raised concerns.
Of the high school students enrolled in Algebra I this school year, 61 percent failed; of those in geometry, 62 percent failed; of those in Algebra 2, 57 percent failed; of those in precalculus, 48 percent failed, according to the data.
Of high school students enrolled in Algebra 1 in 2004, 57.71 percent failed; of those in geometry, 43 percent failed. The report does not include information from the other courses mentioned below, but it does include biology, showing a high failure rate of 60 percent in that course.
School board Vice President Philip Kauffman (At-large) of Olney pointed out the data when discussing the issue at the school board meeting on Tuesday...

More on Pearson's incompetence; and a Pearson protest rally on May 23

More on Pearson's incompetence; and a Pearson protest rally on May 23

Exclusive: Starr Creates New Budget Process

At Monday's Board of Education Fiscal Management Committee meeting an April 30, 2012, Memorandum was made public that describes the "new" behind closed doors process for setting the MCPS Operating and Capital Budgets.

BOE Committee meeting documents are not made public on the MCPS website.  Thanks to Parents' Coalition member Danuta Wilson for attending this meeting and making this memo public.  

What is interesting about this memo is that the MCPS budget process has been a secret for years!  So, it's impossible for us to say what is "new" about this process.  The secret committee members sign bogus Confidentiality Agreements swearing that they will never reveal what goes on in these budget meetings!  (The oath includes "cross my heart and hope to die...")  Somewhere along the way Montgomery County citizens forgot that a public school budget is created in a public process, not behind closed doors. 

For those new to MCPS land, Maryland law mandates that the BOE will set the public school budget.  But, in Montgomery County our BOE doesn't do that anymore.  They used to, but they stopped around 2006.  Apparently, they found it boring.  We don't know.  The BOE never voted to stop creating the MCPS budget.

Here's the "new" process.  Good luck guessing what's changed.

Monday, May 13, 2013

MCPS Website - Out of Order

Monday, May 13, 2013 9:00 AM

Starr: "...teacher education programs...are not providing districts with the workforce they need..."

The following question and answer are from Superintendent Starr's presentation at the American Youth Policy Forum in February of 2013.
How are SDUSD and MCPS using research to provide teachers with increased information and professional development?...Starr related that teacher education programs, while working very hard, are not providing districts with the workforce they need. MCPS spends a lot on professional development for new teachers and the union is very involved in the development of teachers.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Council will Review MCPS Operating and Capital Budgets at 1:30 PM May 13th

Happy Mother's Day!


Happy Mother's Day to all our wonderful moms
from the Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, MD

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Pa. state schools allow guns amid review

Just in time for those summer college tours, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has reviewed its policy on guns on college campuses and decided that students should be allowed to pack.  So, fair warning, if you are heading to Pennsylvania, be aware that your child's dorm mates could be packing.

From the article by reporter Michael Rubinkam (AP) (yellow highlights my own):
At least five Pennsylvania state-owned universities are now allowing guns on campus after the state's lawyers concluded that an outright ban on weapons was likely unconstitutional.

Kutztown, Shippensburg, Edinboro, Slippery Rock and Millersville universities have all quietly changed their policies over the past year to reflect the advice of lawyers in the governor's office and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Students in those schools are now allowed to have weapons on campus, though they are still generally banned from school buildings and athletic events.
Read the full story by reporter Michael Rubinkam here.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Einstein Principal Issues Apology Letter

May 8,2013

Dear Parent(s)/Guardians,
I am writing to apologize to you, your child, and family for a letter I authored
about the transfer of the Extensions program to Albert Einstein High School.
While it certainly was not my intention, I now realize that some of the language
in the letter-which was posted on our school website-was inappropriate and
offensive. As a teacher and principal for 42 years, I have been committed to
meeting the needs of all students, including those with special needs. The
language in the letter did not reflect that commitment and for that I am very
sorry.

As principal of Albert Einstein High School, I am extremely pleased to welcome
the Extensions program to our school community. I know this program is a highly
rated and exemplary model of special education services in Montgomery County
Public Schools (MCPS) and throughout the state of Maryland. We will make sure
your child receives the best services and support at Einstein and will welcome
these students as a part of the Titan community. I would like to invite you to
visit our school and meet with me and others on May 16, at 7:30 p.m. Also attending the meeting will be Ms. Gwendolyn Mason, director of the Department of Special Education Services, Mrs. Chrisandra Richardson, associate superintendent of Special Education and Student Services, and Ms. Bronda Mills, our community superintendent. Childcare will be provided.
I know I will need to work hard to earn your trust and it is my goal to do just
that.
I look forward to working with you and other MCPS stakeholders to welcome the
Extensions program to Einstein High School and to serve your child to the
highest level.

Principal
Albert Einstein High School

Montgomery settles with group of teachers who sued Kemp Mill principal

Montgomery County officials have reached an out-of-court settlement with six former employees at Kemp Mill Elementary School who accused their one-time principal of misconduct and retaliation.

The settlement, which came just days before a trial was scheduled to begin Monday, puts an end to a civil lawsuit that, according to court documents, included allegations that the principal escorted unruly children into a closet-size room to calm them down and subjected staff members to unwanted touching, verbal abuse and harassment.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/montgomery-settles-with-group-of-teachers-who-sued-kemp-mill-principal/2013/05/10/75e79a18-b8d5-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html?hpid=z3

MoCo Attorney Attempts to Justify Seclusion of Students as "Policy"

From the Washington Post, Friday, May 10. 2013
By Donna St George




The idea of taking an out-of-control child into a closet-like space drew a series of questions at a pre-trial hearing May 3 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Judge Ronald B. Rubin said he did not know whether the allegations were true, but if so, he asked: “Really?”

He inquired: How old was the child? How big was the room? At one point, he referred to the room as a “box.”

Associate County Attorney Heather A. Mulloy, who represented the school system and Starnes in the case, protested. No child was ever placed in a box, she said.

“A small, confined space, with the door closed, in the dark?” Rubin asked. “What’s the difference?”

Mulloy sought to explain the principal’s perspective.

“There was a child out of control,” she said. “This happens in schools sometimes. . . . The policy says that if there is a kid out of control, you have to — for their own safety and the safety of others — take them away from that area. . . . [Starnes] was trying to have an area where he could have the child have his tantrum and then calm him down.”

To read the whole article in the Washington Post, CLICK HERE.

Maryland legal code gets user-friendly online makeover

Maryland legal code gets user-friendly online makeover

NBC4 Exclusive: Controversial Comments from Einstein High School Principal

View more videos at: http://nbcwashington.com.

Weast on Board of Institute for Educational Leadership

IEL's mission is to build the capacity of individuals, organizations, systems and communities to work together to prepare all children and youth for post-secondary education, careers, and citizenship.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fairfax County teachers' raise cut in half | WashingtonExaminer.com

Fairfax County teachers' raise cut in half | WashingtonExaminer.com

Why would Pearson, the world’s largest for-profit education business, include gratuitous references to trademarked products in its tests?

A New York student writes about the insertion of brand names in a Pearson Education, Inc. standardized test.  The big question is why won't The Washington Post write about Pearson's curriculum and assessments in Montgomery County Public Schools?  Remember Pearson is writing the assessments for all elementary school students in MCPS now.  Assessments that are being given three times per year.  

By Isaiah Schrader
Students from Massena to Montauk, from Plattsburgh to Poughkeepsie just took the New York State English exam. The exam, created by the education giant, Pearson, featured passages and questions that required the test-taker to be able to comprehend and analyze them. This was no small feat. The passages, like one about a man fishing for a screwdriver with a magnet, and a story about a busboy cleaning up soda, challenged students throughout the state. But the test had one feature that shocked this test-taker and surely others who noticed it: product placement.
The “busboy” passage in the eighth grade test I took was fictional, written about a dishwasher at a pizza restaurant. In it, the busboy neglects to notice a large puddle of root beer under a table that he clears. His irate employer notifies him about the mess, and he cleans it up. It seems alright at first glace. However, the root beer was referred to at one point as Mug™ Root Beer. It was followed by a footnote, which informed test-takers that Mug™ was a registered trademark of PepsiCo. The brand of soda, the type of soda, and, come to think of it, the exact beverage was not necessary to the development of the story, nor was it mentioned in any of the confusing and analytical questions following the passage.
So why was the brand and trademark included?