Monday, April 21, 2014

Rock Creek Hills School Opponents Prepared To Go To State’s Highest Court

http://www.bethesdanow.com/2014/04/14/rock-creek-hills-school-opponents-prepared-to-go-to-states-highest-court/

Field-Testing of Common-Core Exams Gets Off to Shaky Start at Wootton HS

Full text of article at this Education Week link.
At Thomas S. Wootton High School, teachers and administrators seem to be in agreement that field-testing for the common-core assessments is off to a bumpy start. I spent the morning of April 2 in a computer lab at the school with 9th graders who were randomly assigned to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests in English/language arts. This was the group's second attempt at completing the computer-based tests, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.Last week, students at the school encountered technical difficulties—software systems that "weren't jiving," said Joseph Du Boyce, an assistant principal at Wootton High School—and eventually were sent back to their regular classrooms without taking the exam...,,,On the day I visited Wootton High, Mr. Du Boyce began by walking students through a Java update intended to help prevent software problems. He repeatedly urged the students to "be patient"—though his own actions revealed some edginess. He circled the lab with purpose and breezed through the instructions, which he later told me were "very unclear" and "poorly written.""Let's pray this works," he said to students as they clicked the sign-in box on their computer screens......As the students began the PARCC test, Mr. Du Boyce was rushed out of the room to address a technical problem in another computer lab. A few minutes later, the two remaining proctors realized that none of the students had headphones, which were supposed to have been distributed before the test began. A couple of students raised their hands when they reached items that required them to listen to a reading—though some did not and plowed on. About 10 minutes after testing had begun, a staff member entered with the headphones PARCC had provided. The proctors couldn't help but laugh as they picked apart the mess of tangled cords... 
...JeanMarie Joseph, a special education teacher at the school who has taught for 28 years, said she's seen the evolution of states tests and understands there are often "rough spots to iron out" with new assessments. However, having experienced the computer difficulties while administering the test to a student with special needs, she said, with PARCC, "I've been underwhelmed so far."

Saturday, April 19, 2014

WPost Letter: Successful schools do not engage in the obfuscation that Montgomery County has undertaken to keep people from understanding what is going on in them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/karin-chenoweth-montgomery-county-schools-dance-around-needed-changes/2014/04/18/a250de0a-c4cf-11e3-bcec-b71ee10e9bc3_story.html

Tonight: Guests on the Pat McDonough Radio Show to Discuss Supt. Dance's Antics

Announcement from State Delegate Pat McDonough of Harford County and Baltimore County

Hereford High School parents will be guests on the Pat McDonough Show on WCBM, 680 am this Saturday night, April 19th, from 8 to 10 pm. It will also be on WCBM.com.

The show will discuss the outrage by parents regarding Dr. Dance and his policies related to Hereford High School.
Delegate McDonough and others will review the problems created by Dr. Dance in the Baltimore County School System, including McDonough's "conflict of interest" charges against the Superintendent.

Click here to listen live

Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum at Rockville Library on April 16th

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency

Open Data Policy called step forward for Md. transparency

Friday, April 18, 2014

Who knew? Schiavino-Narvaez "described herself first and foremost as a parent whose child has special needs"

Real Hartford » Superintendent Search: Substance or Style?

MCPS Deputy Sup. "Schiavino-Narvaez said she supports school choice and admires Hartford's "portfolio" approach to education that gives families the option of traditional neighborhood schools, specialized academies, charter schools and magnet programs."

Superintendent Joshua Starr's former intern and now MCPS Deputy Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez is one of two candidates for the Hartford, Connecticut superintendent position.  In today's Hartford Courant article on the superintendent selection process we learn what Schiavino-Narvaez had to say about school choice at yesterday's Hartford forum.

Hartford Courant:  Hartford Superintendent Finalists Meet The Public

PARCC piloted at Fallsmead Elementary and other county schools

Gazette: Fallsmead students try new state assessment test

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Derek Sheely died after contact football drills at Frostburg State University

Gazette: Judge keeps helmet lawsuit intact in case involving death of Germantown player

Real Food for Kids: Screening of "Lunch Hour" May 3rd

If you care about what your kids are eating at school, you won’t want to miss this compelling  new movie. On Saturday May 3, Real Food for Kids – Montgomery (RFKM) is  hosting a screening of “Lunch Hour (http://www.lunchhourmovie.org/), a feature-length documentary that explores the national school lunch program, childhood obesity, and our addiction to unhealthy food (starring Rachel Ray, Robin Quivers, Marion Nestle, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Amie Hamlin, Peter Eisler, and Alex Jamieson). 
 
Following the film, James Costa, writer and director of “Lunch Hour,” will be on hand to lead a discussion.
 
Details:
May 3: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Takoma Park Community Center
7500 Maple Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912
 
Suggested donation: $10 per person.
Appropriate for ages 14 and older.          
 
Please sign our petition for better school food in MCPS!
 
We will be delivering our petition to the Board of Education and Supt. Starr at the June 3rd Board of Education Meeting.  This is your chance to have your voice heard.  Click on this link to sign:   online petition, have your spouse and kids sign, share it on Facebook, tweet it and e-mail it to all your friends in MCPS. 
 
Real FoodFor Kids - Montgomery is a grassroots, parent advocacy group promoting whole, delicious, fresh and nutrient-rich foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Formed in October of 2012, we currently have parents representing 69% (140) of MCPS' 202 schools - and over 1800 supporters. If you support our mission, please email us at realfoodMCPS@gmail.com.  For more information, visit our website at www.realfoodforkidsmontgomery.org
 
Thank you!
 
Karen Devitt and Lindsey Parsons
Co-Founders
Real Food For Kids - Montgomery

Starr's Hired Gun

This week's Gazette includes a letter to the editor from the MCPS Public Information and Web Services Director.  The letter criticizes a Gazette Editorial about Superintendent Joshua Starr's "Hope" agenda.  Joshua Starr brought the "Hope" agenda to MCPS as part of a no bid $900,000 multi-year contract with Gallup, Inc.  

The letter to the editor from the MCPS Public Information and Web Services Director dispenses the following statement as "public information":  
...the Gazette’s recent editorial on the superintendent’s speech at Interfaith Works [“The urgency of action,” April 9] didn’t meet that basic standard of journalism...
Does the  job description of the Montgomery County Public Schools' Public Information Director include defending the personal agendas of superintendents?  No, it actually doesn't. The position is to provide public information and web services to the public on behalf of the Board of Education and the school system. The position does not include spinning the personal agendas of superintendents.



Gazette Letter: Schools need to pay for athletic trainers

Sports safety experts say that if you can’t afford athletic trainers, you can’t afford to run a high school athletics program. We should not forget the death five years ago of Edwin “Dek” Miller from heat stroke during football practice at Northwest High School. Had an athletic trainer been present that day, Dek Miller might still be with us.
Surrounding school systems have found a way to fund athletic trainers in their budgets.
The Gazette reports that MCPS adopted a pilot program this year under which 11 of its 25 high schools are staffed with part-time athletic trainers [“Athletic trainers on the sidelines on Montgomery County,” March 12].
While the pilot program is a start, keep in mind that the athletic trainers’ services were donated by Medstar and other local health care providers, not funded through MCPS’s operating budget.
These health care providers are not charities, and if marketing and branding benefits do not materialize, they may discontinue their donations.
Having athletic trainers by donation at some high schools is better than no athletic trainers at all. But long term, Superintendent Joshua Starr and the school board need to make a grown-up decision to fund athletic trainers in the budget, rather than getting by on the kindness of strangers. After all, their primary mission is student safety. 
Tom Hearn, Bethesda
 http://www.gazette.net/article/20140416/OPINION/140419597/1014/schools-need-to-pay-for-athletic-trainers&template=gazette

WTOP: Report: gap persists between rich and poor schools in Montgomery Co., Md.

The report finds students at high-poverty schools to those in low-poverty schools are:
  • 91% as likely to graduate on-time
  • 76% as likely to maintain their academic eligibility for the entire school year;
  • 71% as likely to complete Algebra 2 by Grade 11 with a C or better, a slight improvement from the last analysis three years ago
The Office of Legislative Oversight recommends a greater focus on integrating students across all of the county's high schools, and new steps to narrow the achievement gap.

Easter Monday: MCPS Union will get 2 and 1/2 times hourly rate

The Board of Education and Superintendent are going to have to pay SEIU members who work on Easter Monday time and one-half according to the SEIU contract.  That will make running school on that date more expensive than a regular school day.  

If, after having established the calendar for the school year (including the 
designation of official holidays), (a) the Board changes the school calendar and 
the Board removes the designation of holiday from a day designated as an official 
holiday; and (b) bargaining unit employees are required to work on the 
previously-designated holiday due to the change in the calendar, the bargaining 
unit employees required to work on that day shall be entitled to the pay for 
Holiday Work described in this Article 9, Section C, and bargaining unit 
employees on authorized paid leave for that day shall be considered to be on 
Holiday leave, as defined in Article 12, Section G. 

...and...


Holiday Work 
1. A unit member required to work on an official Board of Education holiday 
(and/or Christmas and New Year's Day when such days fall on a weekend) shall 
be paid one and one-half times the basic hourly straight time rate for each hour 
worked in addition to the holiday pay to which he/she is entitled. 


2013-2014 SEIU - MCPS Contract:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

@bturque Tweeted Montgomery County Executive Candidates' Debate


Thanks Taxpayers League, Civic Assoc & Parents Coalition for the honor of moderating #MontCo Exec Debate. @wusa9


Tonight: WUSA9's Andrea McCarren Moderates Civic Fed, Taxpayers' League, Parents' Coalition Forum for County Exec Candidates

A reminder: The Candidates Forum is tonight.

Please pass this information on to your neighborhood, school, and other listservs and friends.
 
Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum
 
The Civic Fed, Montgomery County Taxpayers League, and the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County, MD, are co-sponsoring this Candidates Forum.  All four candidates have agreed to attend - Phil Andrews (D), Doug Duncan (D), Ike Leggett (D), and Jim Shalleck (R).  Andrea McCarren of WUSA*9 News has agreed to moderate.
 
DATE: Wednesday, April 16th
TIME: 6:30 pm meet-and-greet, 7-9 pm, Q&A
PLACE: Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville
 
Please come and bring your questions!
 

NBC4 Investigates Use of Classroom Trailers

...Montgomery County Public Schools use more than 430 portable classrooms, per state and district records obtained by the News4 I-Team. A row of nine portables, each of which is approximately the size of a trailer, covers an old blacktop playground at Summit Hall Elementary School in Gaithersburg. Principal Keith R. Jones said he installed security equipment, including surveillance cameras and tall fencing, outside the portable classrooms to protect the small buildings and ensure the safety of the fourth and fifth graders who must walk between the units and the main school. Jones said the cold winter was “very, very difficult for those students,” who must walk outdoors multiple times a day...

http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Crowded-Classrooms-More-Students-Means-More-Portables-254618931.html

County Executive Candidates Forum Tonight!

A reminder: The Candidates Forum is tonight.

Please pass this information on to your neighborhood, school, and other listservs and friends.
 
Montgomery County Executive Candidates Forum
 
The Civic Fed, Montgomery County Taxpayers League, and the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County, MD, are co-sponsoring this Candidates Forum.  All four candidates have agreed to attend - Phil Andrews (D), Doug Duncan (D), Ike Leggett (D), and Jim Shalleck (R).  Andrea McCarren of WUSA*9 News has agreed to moderate.
 
DATE: Wednesday, April 16th
TIME: 6:30 pm meet-and-greet, 7-9 pm, Q&A
PLACE: Rockville Memorial Library, 21 Maryland Ave., Rockville
 
Please come and bring your questions!
 
And next week...

 
 
 
@hackMontgomery Hackathon Drop-in
 
We are holding the first of what we plan to be monthly Civic Hackathon drop-ins to work on our civic hackathon projects.  Please come and help us work on the 4 projects we began in February at the hackathon. 
 
DATE: Thursday, April 24th
TIME: 6:30 – 10 pm
PLACE: Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda
 
What is civic hacking? Here is an introduction, from Christopher Whitaker, from Code for America, Chicago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH6LnW_qjeI 
 
And here’s a write-up of our first civic hackathon back in February: http://new.sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/02/13/the-great-montgomery-hackathon/
 
Thanks, we hope to see you at both events!

 
Paula Bienenfeld
First Vice President and Education Committee Chair, Montgomery County Civic Federation
@MCCivicFed
@hackMontgomery

Detailed Wall Map of MCPS Boundaries


Click on link below to see detailed wall map of MCPS boundaries. http://gis.mcpsmd.org/gis/WallMap1314.pdf

Zoom in to see details of elementary, middle, high school and cluster boundaries

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Gazette: School system efforts ‘not working as intended’

Gazette:  County study: Montgomery high-poverty schools face bigger gaps

...one candidate, has accused a friend of Christopher Barclay, the other candidate, of entering and photographing his Annapolis office...

A confrontation in a Maryland delegate’s Annapolis office on the last day of the General Assembly session has links to two candidates running for the Montgomery County Council’s 5th District seat.
Del. Tom Hucker, one candidate, has accused a friend of Christopher Barclay, the other candidate, of entering and photographing his Annapolis office while he was on the House floor in the final hours of Maryland’s legislative session.
Hucker and Barclay are among five candidates running for the open council seat this June.
Exactly what transpired that evening is unclear, as three of the four men there that night offer varying accounts.
The only thing that is clear is that a man named Herbie Smith, who knows Barclay, was in Hucker’s office.
“I feel very violated, and I can’t imagine why I was targeted like this or what he was doing in my office,” Hucker (D-Dist. 20) of Silver Spring said. “I don’t know what to make of it. I hope it is not a sign of things to come.”
continues at link below
 http://www.gazette.net/article/20140411/NEWS/140419827/1124/annapolis-confrontation-adds-tension-to-montgomery-county-council-race%26template%3Dgazette&template=gazette

Exterminator suspects there is a termite infestation at Blair High School

After thousands of termites emerged in the arts hallway last Tuesday, an county exterminator has indicated the possibility of a termite infestation at Blair. The termites do not pose any immediate hazard, but the school may require treatment over the summer.

Thousands of termites emerged from a hole in the wall in Rm. 2 last Tuesday.Courtesy of Jamie Matthews
Thousands of termites emerged from a hole in the wall in Rm. 2 last Tuesday.
Students and teachers first noticed the termites in Rm. 2 during third period on Tuesday. Student teacher Michelle Steinberg had just finished teaching a demonstration when students saw the bugs at the perimeters of the room. "I noticed people weren't sitting down. The substitute teacher said there were bugs everywhere, so I went over to look. There were literally thousands on the floor, and they were coming out from a hole in the wall," Steinberg said...

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12426

Monday, April 14, 2014

Andrews: Good government requires that elected officials ensure that communities are involved in a meaningful way in the decisions that affect them.

Potomac Almanac Letter to the Editor: In the Public’s Interest

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Coalition recently to discuss a wide range of issues affecting our county. I enjoyed the discussion.Good government requires that elected officials ensure that communities are involved in a meaningful way in the decisions that affect them. Public trust in government erodes when government leaders make deals behind closed doors, as the Brickyard community knows all too well. As a member of the County Council since 1998, I have worked openly and closely with many communities on a broad range of issues that affect them. I was one of the County Councilmembers who sent a letter publicly urging County Executive Leggett to work with the Coalition to find a mutually acceptable use of the Brickyard Road site...
 http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/news/2014/apr/09/letter-editor-publics-interest/