Wednesday, July 26, 2006


The letter below was sent to the Maryland Independent on July 26, 2006.

Teacher Union Backs New Faces to the Board
printed Weds. July 26, 2006

Dear Editor:

Writing letters to the Editor is not a desire I wish to fulfill mostly because, I do not wish to partake in any mud slinging involving the Charles County Board of Education. However, after being misquoted on numerous occasions and after reading the article printed in Wednesday's edition, I feel compelled to set a few matters straight.

I'll begin with the article; it is true the EACC conducted interviews of the Candidates filing to run for the Board of Education. Unfortunately, the first round was conducted while I was away on a family vacation. I notified Ms. Barbara Kennedy prior to my departure and was informed it wouldn't be a problem. She clearly stated a second round of interviews was scheduled, after the July 3rd filing deadline, and would contact me then. (The letter inviting us to participate in these interviews also stated the same) Upon the return from my vacation and on two other occasions thereafter, I tried contacting the EACC leaving messages for Ms. Kennedy requesting future interview dates. My calls were never returned.

As for the questionnaire, which was sent out with the letter, it is still in my possession. The initial intention was to bring it with me to the interview, as the letter clearly stated to do.

Am I surprised by the twist the EACC tried to portray in the article on Wednesday? Not in the least. You see, this is the second time I am aware of that the EACC has tried to sabotage my efforts as a board member. Earlier in the year, Mr. Fisher himself visited several schools and announced to all staff, (not just the EACC members) "Ms. Young and Ms. Abell voted against increasing the teacher's pension." This statement is blatantly untrue! I voted to increase the teacher's pensions! When I was later informed of these comments, and questioned Mr. Fisher personally, he was adamant the information was correct. I insisted he check the minutes from the meeting; Mr. Fisher later called and apologized as he stood corrected. He subsequently stated he would not send out a retraction to all staff informing them of his inaccuracy.

In addition to shed some light on and hopefully put an end to the political tactics of a small but vocal group of EACC members who frequently attempt to misrepresent me and others on several issues, I would like to set my record straight.

I am a Christian and believe in God, he walks and guides me through my daily life.

The teaching of creationism as a science in public schools
The use of vouchers
The banning of books
The distribution of religious books in the schools

An increase in teacher's salaries & retention of highly qualified teachers
Parents actively involved in their child's education
An open and transparent Board of Education
A collaborative effort at the County and State levels to relieve overcrowding in the schools
Working collaboratively with the Superintendent and staff

If anyone has questions regarding my beliefs, feel free to visit my blog at; or email me at

Finally, did I in fact believe the EACC would endorse me as a candidate for the Board of Education? No, not based on their past history...after all, I'm not a registered Democrat!

Thank you,
Jennifer Abell

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Block Scheduling

I am still undecided on whether I support block scheduling. I'm leaning more towards not supporting block scheduling based on mathematical data (provided at the end of this post) and personal research but will refrain from a final decision until after this school year. You see, my son is the guinea pig this year. He attends Milton Somers which went to block scheduling for this school year. For a boy who is organizationally handicapped to start with, this is already turning out to be a nightmare and more work for me. Hopefully it will get better and won't need reminders every night as to which books to pack in the book bag. As for the data I promised, I will give you the following excerpt from Margaret Young's website:
Over the course of just one year students lose approximately 13.5 hours (16 school days) of instructional time. The cumulative effect over the middle school and high school career would be 94.5 hours of instruction PER SUBJECT! Here's why:

Schools are open 6.5 hours per day
Assume 30 minute lunches for both block and regular schedules
Regular scheduled schools have 7 periods; block schedules have 4 (therefore block scheduled schools are divided by 8 periods)
6.5 hours per day x 60 min. per hr. = 390 min. per school day
390 min. - 30 min. lunch = 360 min. left

360 min. - 21 min. to change for 7 classes and lunch (3 min. @) = 339 min.
339 min. divided by 7 classes = 48 min. instruction per class
48 min. class x 180 days per year = 8640 min. (144 hrs.)

360 min. - 12 min. to change for 4 classes and lunch (3 min @) = 348 min.
348 min. divided by 4 classes = 87 min. instruction per class
87 min. class x 90 (meets every other day) = 8730 min. (130.5 hrs.)
144 hrs. Regular - 130.5 hrs. Block = 13.5 hrs. difference (a.k.a. 16.875 Regular Schedule School Days)
Of course this is only true for science, social studies, physical education, arts (band, choir, art, etc.), foreign language, and all other subjects that aren't math or English.
Okay, we are upping the hours for math and English but shortening the hours in all other subjects. I have to wonder if there is a method to the madness. Maybe this is just one more way to get a handle on all of the mandatory testing to ensure we (the system) make the grade.

School Visitation Policy

The current visitation policy (Policy 1240) is listed below. Please provide feedback. Remember feedack both good and bad are welcome. However, let's be constructive...if there is something you don't like, provide an alternative. My ears are open!
Parent Visitation/Observation

Parents are encouraged to come to their child?s school during normal operating hours. All visitors are asked to sign in at the main office and obtain a visitor?s badge to ensure the safety and security of students and staff.Parents may either visit the classroom at the teacher?s/school?s invitation or request to make a formal observation of a classroom. Making an appointment with the school at least two (2) days in advance of an observation is not only a courtesy and a requirement, but enables you to schedule the observation for the maximum benefit. Teachers cannot stop teaching to confer with parents who stop by without an appointment. Parents may schedule up to two (2) classroom observations of forty-five (45) minutes in duration each grading period. Staff will accompany visitors to the classroom. Siblings should not attend. Teachers will be happy to discuss the observation at a mutually convenient time. Parents are welcome to visit the cafeteria and eat lunch with their child.Principals retain the authority to deny access to the school for any individual who has or may disrupt or disturb the learning environment or who lacks a valid or legal purpose for entering the school. Our shared commitment and cooperation is essential for the safety of our students and staff.

Early Dismissals, Half-Days, Late Arrivals

To Anonymous & Curious,
This is in response to two posts under the subject (Role of the Board of Education) regarding Early dismissals, Half Days, Late Arrivals. I just wanted to post something brief to let you know that I hear you, I've read your comments, and I will be posting a reply soon. I'm doing a little research and obtaining some information before replying. So...stay tuned.