Sunday, May 31, 2015

PG mistakenly sends unedited email to mother concerned about mold in the classrooms |

Md. school mistakenly sends unedited email to mother concerned about mold in the classrooms |

Synthetic Turf Can Deteriorate to Form Dust Containing Lead

And here is what the Walter Johnson High School artificial turf field looks like now.  The green plastic blades are deteriorating, shredding and turning into dust that can be inhaled by field users.

This picture shows the plastic grass blades at WJHS. Everything shown in this picture is plastic. The plastic has broken apart as the blades have deteriorated in the sun.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Guest Post: Somerset Elementary Parents, School and Board of Education Please Reconsider!

Heat reading of 167 degrees on MCPS Artificial Turf
Somerset parents, school and Board of Education please reconsider!

See and for more information.

The Montgomery County Council has banned the use of toxin laden waste-tire-crumb infill and has required plant based infill on county synturf fields. But, the Board of Education has not acted on, and MCPS is not bound by, this important Montgomery County Council action.

The plastic itself is a problem- the coloring often contains the toxic heavy metal, lead (for which there is no safe level of exposure for children) and heats up to 125-170 deg F. on warm sunny days, when grass is as cool or cooler than the air temperature making recess a painful proposition.

The growing concern about links to cancer clusters among young adults who were frequent child users of artificial turf fields, especially those like soccer goalies who spend the most time on or close to the surface of the waste- tire-crumb infilled plastic fields, should raise concern for all.

For less than half the stated cost a cool, healthy, durable well draining, state of the art natural grass field can be installed with plenty of funds left over for many years of maintenance. Whereas, there will be little or no money for the important health and durability related maintenance of the artificial turf!

Please don't put children's short and long term health at risk out of ignorance. Plus, where will you get the half million dollars to dispose and replace the plastic and tire crumb field with a new field in 8 years?  Most synturf fields barely last that long and many less, especially if not maintained well which most aren't!

Kathleen Michels

The conclusion of no criminal wrongdoing, he said, was from the state’s attorney’s office, not a grand jury.

What happened to the Grand Jury investigation into the Rock Terrace School missing student funds?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Unanimous BOE Votes For $550,000 Playground for Somerset Elementary

Board of Education member Mike Durso was absent for this vote.

The Board members noted that Bethesda PTA's give fundraising "tips" to Red Zone (low-income) parents.  Apparently, those "tips" justify a $550,000 playground for Bethesda schools while Silver Spring children play on dirt. 

Gazette: McCarthy said he thinks there is an assumption by some that the only money in the accounts was earned by students working in jobs.

Title quote is from this Gazette article:

Then why were bank accounts set up using the students' social security number and why were W-2's issued?
It seems that State's Attorney John McCarthy isn't following his own investigation. The Washington Post has already reported that these were work-study funds and W-2's were issued.

State's Attorney: "answering the question of whether it’s student money or program money is not for us to resolve"

...The prosecutor’s office examined records from 2001 to 2013, tracking 7,039 transactions amounting to about $69,000. The average transaction was around $25.
The office also interviewed Rock Terrace staff. It didn’t talk directly to parents or students, but rather reviewed parent statements and other information the school system passed on from its investigation.
The Educational Systems Federal Credit Union provided records for 93 students, Roslund said.
The investigation uncovered multiple inconsistencies related to how staff managed the money and bank accounts. The “variances” point to a lack of supervision and oversight “within individual school years, individual student accounts and from year to year,” McCarthy said.
The investigation determined that money pulled from the accounts generally was put toward school programs, but there was no documentation of exactly how the money was spent...

Local superintendents demand impressive perks |

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Public servants with personal drivers, security details and quarter million dollar salaries - we're not talking governors or U.S. senators. These compensation packages are going to area school superintendents.
The 7 On Your Side I-Team obtained the employment contracts of 29 local school superintendents - what they make and what they get. We read them all and found some eye-opening compensation packages.
The average school CEO salary is $193,432 - more than Virginia's Governor of $175,000.
"Who can justify a superintendent making more than the governor of the state of Virginia?” responded Republican Virginia State Senator Dick Black. “That's an outrage."
Prince George's county pays its CEO the most at $290,000, nearly twice Maryland's governor’s salary of $150,000 – even though his district has the state's second lowest graduation rate.
"The idea absolutely is to change that," said Segun Eubanks.
Eubanks is the chairman of the Prince George's County School Board. He took part in drafting that $290,000 salary.
"It's worth it and it's an impressive compensation package," he said. "Getting talented people around your kids is important."
Beyond salaries, most superintendents get a car allowance. But St. Mary's and Loudoun County taxpayers fund the largest at $12,000 a year. Meanwhile, the Loudoun County School Board has proposed charging parents to bus their kids.
Karen Garza of Fairfax County is the only super who gets a housing allowance; $24,000 a year - that's in addition to her $265,000 salary. She also gets up to $65,000 a year in retirement benefits, which alone is roughly equal to the average Fairfax teacher salary of $66,782 - a topic that has become an issue.
Dean Howarth is a physics teacher in Fairfax County. "The teachers who work at our school can't afford to live where they teach. And there's an exodus of talent."
When it comes to paid time off, again, Kevin Maxwell of Prince George's gets the most at 51 days - more than 10 weeks.
"It sets a bad example,” stated Senator Black. "There was a time when we used to talk about public service. It's not that way. They have surrounded themselves with opulence."
As the I-Team dug deeper in the stack of contracts, we found two superintendents, in Prince George's and Howard Counties get security.
"That's incredible. Are people trying to kill them?" asked Sue Perlin, a homeowner in Fairfax County...
Local superintendents demand impressive perks |


Maryland Gov. Hogan appoints two Common Core supporters to Board of Education

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan just named two new members of the state Board of Education — both supporters of the Common Core as well as charter schools.
Hogan, a Republican, tapped Chester E. Finn, Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and Andy Smarick, partner at Bellwether Education Partners, to take the open seats on the 12-person board created by the departures of Charlene M. Dukes and Donna Hill Staton.
Hogan, who was sworn in as Maryland governor in January, had during the campaign characterized the implementation of school reforms in the state as “a train wreck” and said he believed in local control of assessments. In late January, a spokeswoman for Hogan said in an e-mail, “Governor Hogan believes that we need to hit the ‘pause’ button on Common Core and give control back to teachers and parents.”...
...The Maryland governor appoints all members of the Board of Education, with advise and consent by the state Senate. Hogan will have more chances to appoint members to the board this year, with four members ending their terms, including the student member. (The governor appoints the student member from a list of two people nominated by the Maryland Association of Student Councils.) By the end of the year, then, he could have appointed as many as half the members of the board, and next year, a few more members are retiring...

MCPS substitute teacher to be sentenced Today

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Does Family Income Really Affect a Student's College Chances?

Do you believe that family income is tied to a student's college chances?

Today's NYTimes asks that question, and provides an interactive test to let you know whether your thinking is in line with reality.

Read the article, take the test- and then see how you do.  Unlike Montgomery County Public Schools, taking this test is entirely up to you.  We aren't asking you to report your results - but if you would like to comment, please do so on our blog.

Keep in mind - education is supposed to be the great equalizer!

Thanks to the NYTimes!

How likely is it that children who grow up in very poor families go to college? How about children who grow up in very rich families?
We’d like you to draw your guess for every income level on the chart below.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bowers Spending $11 Million Today on Unspecified Stuff #BowersPerks

At today's Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Larry Bowers has slipped in an $11 million dollar no bid item on the Consent Agenda.  The $11 million will buy "computers, associated hardware and services." 

Wonder what this $11,798,868 million will buy?  How many computers? What brand? What associated hardware? What services? What is meant by computers?  Promethean Boards? Chrome Books? What services?
Take a guess. The BOE has no idea, why should they care? 

We've seen this vague language many times before and the results of what Larry Bowers purchases are always a surprise! 

Is this how the Montgomery County Board of Education oversees the spending of $11 million dollars?$file/Cont%20Apprv%20Bid%20UB12-B-19%20Computers%20Ext.pdf

It is unclear however, who would pay to maintain the artificial field.

Somerset Elementary Wants to Raise Funds for Artificial Turf

...The turf has an estimated cost of $550,000. The school’s PTA and Foundation have said it would take them about two years to raise that money, according to the memo.
It is unclear however, who would pay to maintain the artificial field.
The Somerset school has a student population of 575.

Will Montgomery Knolls Elem. School Get an Artificial Turf Playground? Look at the Dirt! (#BowersPerks aren't for Silver Spring.)

Will Montgomery Knolls Elementary School get an artificial turf playground due to all the dirt on their field?

Looks like a lot of dirt on the Montgomery Knolls Elementary School playground in Silver Spring.

Will Canon Road ES, Piney Branch ES, Sligo Creek ES, or Takoma Park ES Get $550,000 Playing Fields?

Piney Branch ES playing field. (Is that dirt we see?)

Of course not!

The reign of Superintendent Larry Bowers has begun.  Look for a year of perks for the neighborhoods who can afford to pay to turn their public school into a private school.

First up is Somerset Elementary.  Superintendent Bowers uses the excuse that the school sits on 3.71 acres as the reason why an artificial turf playing field is needed.  What Mr. Bowers neglects to mention is all of the other MCPS elementary schools that are on 5 acres or less.  Below is a list of all MCPS elementary schools with the sites that are 5 acres or less highlighted in yellow. 

Bowers Reign of Perks Begins! Chevy Chase Elem. School will have $550,000 Field, While Red Zone Kids Play on Dirt. #BowersPerks

Somerset Elementary School Hoping for Approval to Install Artificial Turf Field

Foundation at school plans to raise $550,000 to cover costs

... “The artificial turf on the playing field will provide safe playing conditions and benefit both the school and the community,” wrote Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers in his recommendation for approval.

Why hackers want kids’ personal information

This audit could answer long-held questions about Pr. George’s schools

Four years, two superintendents and one bruising state financial report after the Prince George’s County Council came up with the idea, officials are in the last stages of launching a comprehensive performance audit of the school system.
Council member Derrick Leon Davis (D-Mitchellville) sought an audit in 2011, under then-Superintendent William R. Hite Jr., after years of upheaval in school governance left many residents skeptical of how resources were being used.
“We knew that if we were going to make a more significant investment, we needed it,” he said of a systemwide audit, which has not been done since 1998. “It will tell us what we get for the money we spend.”
In seeking the audit, Davis was trying to address some of the same concerns — about transparency, trust and accountability — dominating the debate about County Executive Rushern L. Baker III’s plan to raise property taxes to generate additional dollars for the school system...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Maryland mom pulls daughter from school, says building makes her sick |

Maryland mom pulls daughter from school, says building makes her sick |

State's Attorney Did Not Interview Victims, Concludes No Crime

No crime found in Rock Terrance School incident 

No criminal conduct occurred when Rock Terrace School maintained accounts without parents’ knowledge for special-education students in transition-to-work programs, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office found.

The office investigated the management of money and the accounts after some parents in 2013 discovered the school had set up bank accounts for their children to receive work stipends but the children had not received the money. The State’s Attorney’s investigation confirmed the findings of Montgomery County Public Schools’ internal investigation of mismanagement but no criminal conduct.
Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division Bryan Roslund said he could not comment on mismanagement because the investigation was focused solely on potential criminal activity.
“No acts constituted a crime ... The broader question of what went on at the school and what was being done with programs is not really for us to answer,” Roslund said.
Roslund said the investigation looked at school records and letters or comments parents had sent to the school about the issue, but did not involve interviewing parents. Lyda Astrove, a local attorney and advocate for the parents and students, said that made it a “one-sided investigation.”...

 ...MCPS has reimbursed students in 71 payments adding up to about $34,400...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tech Industry Continues to Lobby for Relaxing Student Data Privacy Standards

Tech industry companies continue to lobby for relaxing the standards  for student data privacy, according to a report by Education Week. It cites loopholes in the recently adopted MD Bill HB 298 signed by Gov. Larry Hogan. According to J. Lupovitz, a student privacy advocate and VP of policy at the Common Sense Media, "One of the biggest issues with the new Maryland law is that it only covers education vendors that enter into contracts with districts, leaving a big loophole for other education technology providers" such as third party apps, websites and other services not covered by contracts. 

PARCC Cuts Total Test Time by 90 Minutes

Press Release: Maryland's State Assessment Program To Be Streamlined

PARCC to be Shorter, Use Single Testing Window

For Immediate Release                                               Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486
Baltimore, MD (May 21, 2015)

Maryland students in grades 3-8 and high school will spend less time taking State assessments next year as a result of changes approved unanimously by the multi-state consortium governing the tests.
The Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) yesterday voted to consolidate the PARCC assessment’s two testing windows into one and cut total test time by about 90 minutes overall beginning in the 2015-16 school year.  The changes were made in response to feedback from parents, students, and educators during the first year of testing and a careful review of test design.
“Next year’s PARCC tests will take less time away from lessons, and cause less disruption to school schedules, while still keeping students on track for college and careers,” said State Superintendent of School Lillian M. Lowery. “These changes will help us focus on what’s most important—ensuring that students are learning to think critically and master the skills they will need to graduate, ready for success.”
The revisions to PARCC will:
  • Combine the two English language arts and two math testing window to one 30-day window near the end of the semester or the school year.
  • Reduce the number of test units that students will take from 8 or 9, depending upon the grade level, to 7 or 6.
  • Cut the testing time for students by about 90 minutes overall depending on content and grade level.
The first full year of PARCC implementation in Maryland has gone smoothly for the most part, with more than 1.3 million tests administered and completed.  The new assessments, aligned to Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards, replaced the Maryland School Assessment tests this year.  Additional details on the changes to the PARCC test is available here.


MCPS fails to find new superintendent, asks interim leader to stay on |

MCPS fails to find new superintendent, asks interim leader to stay on |

Today: After years of hiding, live webcast of BOE and Planning Board Meeting!

The Montgomery County Planning Board and the Board of Education have been meeting for years off camera and often without notice to the public.  The meetings were labeled as dinner meetings to give the impression that the events were purely social.  In fact, the meetings were packed with important discussions of public school planning issues.

The Parents' Coalition has attended some of these meetings and videotaped the meeting so that the public could observe the discussion and decision making of these two important public bodies. 

Finally, tonight's meeting will be held in the Montgomery County Planning Board meeting room and the meeting will be televised so that all citizens of Montgomery County can observe the discussions and deliberations as these two public bodies discuss public school planning.  Tune in at 5:30 PM this evening.  The meeting will be webcast by the Planning Board at the link below. 
The Agenda for this evenings meeting is also shown below. 

Past Meetings: 2011

Tonight:  Thursday, May 21, 2015
Montgomery County Planning Board Agenda

Joint meeting of the Montgomery County Planning Board and Montgomery County Board of Education (Meeting may be viewed live on our website, visit (

Community members seek changes to Kensington school plan

Under a Montgomery County Public Schools plan, a new Kensington middle school would be squeezed on a site with inadequate space that will make the school inferior, some opponents of the plan say.
Adding underground parking to the plan, they say, could help fix some of the bigger problems they see.
A group of residents said they are concerned that the site plan, as it stands, would limit athletic and academic spaces and pose safety hazards for drivers and pedestrians. The result, they said, is a school that would fall below the district’s project guidelines and would be unequal to other county schools, particularly Westland Middle School in the same cluster.
However, a school district official said the middle school will be similar to existing middle schools. He added that the district already considered — and decided against — a parking structure.

Pearson Blames 'Third Party' Attack for Disrupting Minnesota Online Tests

Minnesota halted its state assessments in science on Wednesday and Thursday due to a lack of confidence "that Pearson's system will operate smoothly," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced.
For the second time this testing season, Minnesota's assessments were disrupted by a "distributed denial-of-service attack," and Pearson, the global education company that designed and is administering the state's tests, told state officials that this was a larger and more sophisticated attack than one that occurred on April 21.
"It is simply unacceptable and unfair to subject students and teachers to this kind of uncertainty in a high-stakes testing environment," Cassellius said in a statement"I have questions about Pearson's ability to follow through on their assurances." The company holds a three-year contract, valued at $33.8 million, to administer Minnesota's reading, math and science proficiency tests. 
Pearson also released a statement, saying the company had worked throughout the day on Wednesday to mitigate what it described as malicious third-party attacks, in an effort to "minimize the disruptions and return service to normal." The company also said it is actively working to "strengthen our defenses to fend off these attacks," and assured the state that student data was not targeted, or at risk.

MCPS 8th out of 10 Area Counties in Percent of ESOL Students

Below is the 2015 Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Guide.  The WABE Guide compares data from 10 public school systems around Washington, D.C.  The WABE Guide compares enrollment, class sizes, staffing, revenue, salary and benefits information from each of the 10 counties.

It usually compares data from all 10 counties, except there was the year that MCPS refused to participate.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Breaking News: BOE Loses at State BOE with "Have Its Cake and Eat it Too" Legal Argument #msi #churchillhigh #artificial turf

MSI Soccer, Inc. filed an appeal with the Maryland State Board of Education concerning the Montgomery County Board of Education's decision to award the use of the Churchill High School football field to other clubs. 

At the same time, MSI filed a civil action in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The Montgomery County Board of Education sought to have the appeal at the State Board dismissed.

In arguing for dismissal of the MSI action before the State BOE, the Montgomery County Board of Education's top outside lawyers argued the well known legal principle of "have it's cake and eat it too." (See opinion below.)  The Montgomery County Board of Education's argument was that MSI could not "have it's cake and eat it too" by pursuing an appeal in two different places at the same time. The Montgomery County Board of Education requested that the MSI appeal at the State Board be dismissed.

The Maryland State Board of Education didn't bite.

The Maryland State Board of Education did not dismiss MSI's appeal.  Instead, MSI prevailed in their request to have their appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education stayed until 60 days after the conclusion of their proceedings in civil court.

Tiger Parents

Are Montgomery County Public School parents too tough?

Did these parents force former superintendent Josh Starr to resign?  Did these same parents give Drew Houlihan the jitters?

Probably not.  If anything, our parents send their kids to school, make them sit for tests, sign them up for lots of AP and advanced testing, and even write checks whenever asked.

Not so in NY.  As in the state, not just the small enclave in Manhattan of uber expensive property.  

According to an article in today's NY Times, children across New York state are being encouraged to "opt out" of standardized testing.  

From the article:

At least 165,000 children, or one of every six eligible students, sat out at least one of the two standardized tests this year, more than double and possibly triple the number who did so in 2014, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
As the vanguard of an antitesting fervor that has spread across the country, New York’s opt-out movement already has become a political force. Just two months ago, lawmakers from both parties, at the behest of Gov.Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, increased the role of test scores in teacher evaluations and tenure decisions. Those same legislators are now tripping over one another to introduce bills that guarantee the right to refuse to take tests.

Only 30 of the 440 districts where data was available met the 95-percent test participation rate called for by federal requirements, a far cry from just two years ago, when almost every district complied. 
Can you picture something similar happening in MoCo?

Read the rest of the article here.

I would love to think that our group, or any other parent grassroots organization, could be as successful as the "opt out" movement in NY.  And certainly, don't believe that our local community has the power to scare away potential superintendent candidates.  Its all rhetoric.

Keep in mind - the biggest responsibility for the elected Board of Education in MoCo is to select a Superintendent of Schools.

So - how well do you think the Board of Education is holding up to their promise to voters?

Breaking: Inspector General Investigation into MCPS Charter School Operator

In October, 2014, an individual contacted the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to lodge numerous allegations regarding the school and residency programs at Crossway Community, Inc. (Crossway). This individual expressed concern about alleged abuse of children in the day care program and that program participants who complained were retaliated against and/or kicked out of the school or residency programs.
Several other program participants subsequently expressed similar concerns to our office.

Inquiry and Outcome:
Mr. Nelson advised us that DHCA had been made aware of assertions that Crossway residents were threatened with the loss of their project-based Housing Choice Voucher Program subsidy if they did not complete the Crossway Family Learning Academy (FLA) program and enroll eligible children in the Crossway Community Montessori School childcare facility. HOC had previously advised the OIG that if true, this could be a violation of HUD rules.

Hogan Appoints Two from Fordham Institute to State Board of Education

Press Release: State Board Of Education Has Two New Members

The Maryland State Board of Education welcomed two new members today. Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County were appointed by Governor Larry Hogan to fill two seats on the 12-member board vacated by the departures of Charlene M. Dukes, Ed.D. and Donna Hill Staton, Esq., whose terms ended in 2014...

Chester E. Finn, Jr.

Andy Smarick

$2,310,000,000 +/- MCPS Operating Budget for FY16 Set for Council Approval

MCPS, unions may revise contracts amid budget shortfalls

...“Union and district officials have been “scrubbing the budget” to look for potential savings, Prouty said. He said he doesn’t know where the contracts might stand at the end of the process.”...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Montgomery County (Md) schools interim superintendent Larry Bowers will be asked to remain on job another year, per source 1 retweet 0 favorites

You Have a Credit Score...and Your Child Now has a Google Tech Score .... And they are selling it.

We work our whole lives to have a good credit score so when we purchase our first car or our first home, the process is fair and equitable.
Imagine if your score included your behavior online, since you were 8 years old.  
No need to imagine anymore.  This is what is happening.  
The state of California, where all these 'tech' companies reside, have passed over 29 privacy laws to protect their kids.  The rest of the states have either passed 'weak' student privacy bills or none.  Maryland recently passed their Student Privacy Bill, but it was gutted of the protection the California Law has b/c the tech companies spent millions to lobby against the stronger language and won.  Parent outcry was needed but few voices were spoken.
If you think this is made up, then listen to the KoJo NPR show today.  These experts tell it like it is... tech companies are working with schools not to better our children but to create profiles that are so detailed, they are calling it:
[Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing research that studies consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.]
There’s no such thing as anonymous in today’s digitized world, when everything from web searches to clothing sizes are saved and quantified to create a digital you. Tech companies have become identity managers- collecting our personal data as we use their services, then selling that information to the highest bidder. Join us for a Tech Tuesday conversation about the data we leave behind while we go about our lives, and how that information is being sold and used.


  • Daniel Castro Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Director, Center for Data Innovation.
  • Alvaro Bedoya Founding Executive Director, Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law
  • Jeff Chester Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy

Starr Inked No Bid/No BOE Vote $900,000 Contract with Gallup as Superintendent, Gets Job with Gallup Affiliate

The former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools is set to become the next CEO of an international association of educators.
PDK International, based in Arlington, announced Tuesday that Joshua Starr will replace William Bushaw, who served as the organization’s CEO for the past 11 years....

...PDK also publishes Kappan, a magazine for educators, and an annual poll in partnership with Gallup about American public opinion on public schools...

Interim Superintendent Larry Bowers has already started MCPS restructuring.

When did Larry Bowers restructure MCPS administration? Any one have a clue? 

We know Mr. Bowers is a firm opponent of transparency and open government so we don't expect to see a memo or any budget details on what he has been up to in the last few months.  Mr. Bowers has a long history of major behind the scenes maneuvers with MCPS Operating Budget funds. 

By the way, what is Mr. Bowers paying himself these days? Perks? Car? Home office? Credit card? 
...Bowers proceeded to start an administrative restructuring even though he was only planning to stay for a few months before a planned retirement...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lead candidate for MCPS superintendent withdraws from search - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG


Lead candidate for MCPS superintendent withdraws from search - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Keystone Cops Take Over MCPS Superintendent Search

Keystone Cops

The search for a new superintendent to take the helm over Montgomery County Public Schools is turning into a comedy.  

At least, that is one way to read what has been happening since our former superintendent, Joshua Starr, walked away from the job a few months ago.

First, we get a secret search- but its not so secret, because several candidates talk to the media. Perhaps they didn't realize that everyone else in the process signed a confidentiality agreement.  

Then, we get a candidate who withdraws almost as soon as his name is put out as the "preferred" choice.  What exactly is the preferred choice, and how did we get to this point without a convened meeting of the Board of Education?  Did the Board of Education actually meet? 

Rumors abound as to why Drew Houlihan with-Drew his name.  Did the school system have buyers remorse? Did he forget to check out the school system?   Not a good sign if Drew doesn't do his own research.  

Tonight, the latest development is that that Alan Goodwin, a self-described "leader" of the esteemed Montgomery County Association of Administrators & Principals (MCAAP), otherwise known as the MCPS Principals Union,  asks that MCPS keep Larry Bowers, its interim superintendent, on for another year.

Is Mr. Bowers doing a good job?  Does he want to stay?  Lets see that performance evaluation!  Are we happy with the way he handled Rock Terrace fraud?  Are we happy that he let the the numerous sex offenders stay in the classrooms?  Lets talk about this.

Do we know that the current superintendent search will yield no viable candidate by September 1?  Looks like someone broke one of those precious confidentiality agreements by speaking with Alan. 

And - who gave Alan the authority to appoint an interim superintendent for a year?    Yes, Alan is a member of the MCAAP board (a Vice President for the High School Chapter), but when did this entity meet?  

When did Alan have time to talk to his membership?  He's also the principal of Walt Whitman High School, and its testing week.  Does his school run so smoothly that he can conduct union business?  Or did he just canvass a number of his friends for support over coffee (29 agree with Alan - any dissenters)?  Recall MCPS has over 200 schools, and MCAAP membership extends to other administrators in the school buildings.  According to its website, MCAAP has over 750 members.   Do the math - Alan's recommendation is based on less than 4 percent of the Administrators in MCAAP.

And what about the teachers?  The service workers union?  The parents?  Or taxpayers?

Sorry Alan - you lose your Keystone Cops badge.  Don't pretend to represent the rest of the County, or even your membership.  

As for the rest of us?  We'd like a superintendent who will serve the students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers, and be honored to take the helm in Montgomery County

Waiting for (Mr. or Ms.) Right Superintendent

If I ran the Montgomery County school system ... I would not jump to have another "interim superintendent" appointed for the next school year.

Even if some of the top prospects are gone.

I would conduct an review of what happened this year - a search failure - and what happened four years earlier with Dr. Starr's selection process.  In hindsight, this is another search failure, since Dr. S left in a huff and didn't finish out his contract.

Even the search that eventually produced Dr. Weast was an initial failure.  The BOE identified Ellie Massie, who had numerous problems and withdrew after her appointment.

So - over the last 16 years, the taxpayers in Montgomery County Maryland have endured three failed searches for school superintendents.

What I would consider -

1.  Another search firm.  Clearly, the current search firm doesn't work for us.  Maybe for other counties or school systems, but not the folks in Montgomery County.

2.  A transparent process.  Secrecy is just not working.  Same for confidentiality agreements.  Meaningful community input and crowdsourcing are the way to go.  Put the finalists names out there - as many other communities do, and gauge the reaction of the crowd.  If the candidates have something to hide, chances are the crowd will find out, and sooner is better than later.  Would Ellie Massie's financial woes have been discovered earlier?   What about Josh's short fuse?  And who knows what really made Drew Houlihan back down.

We're a tough group in Montgomery County.  We need a superintendent who can work with us - our good points and our not so good points.  The job is a great job - $300,000 and a car - who ever thought an educator could get paid a real living wage.

But please- no finger pointing at anyone outside of the current selection process as scaring away other candidates.  Candidates should have researched us before they accepted the plane ticket to interview with the BOE.  If anything, we are really a pretty tame county, considering what some of the other jurisdictions can do -- think about the test boycott in Scarsdale a few years back, and the outing of the Pearson privacy package.  Oh, yes, and the Smartboard disaster - we're still  buying them in MoCo when other counties have clearly moved on.

Kudos to Krista Brick - from  who provided the following: