Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I seem to be receiving a barrage of email regarding school uniforms. The Board has never discussed the possibility of uniforms, at least not during my tenure. I have done a little reading, just what has come across my desk, but haven't really dealved into a lot of research because it hasn't been on the radar screen. So let me know what you think. They're your children and your schools. I've listed a few links below to get you started on some of the materials I have read. If you know of any others, please post.

Teacher's Pension and Salaries

Contrary to the EACC propaganda, I voted for an increase in teacher pension and do support a substantial increase in salaries. Although the starting salary for teachers MAY be adequate, the subsequent increases are not high enough. I believe the Board should dealve into pay increases being based on performance not tenure. Teachers deserve to be compensated based on their effectiveness in the classroom. These teachers not only are teaching our future leaders of this country, but they have to constantly deal with and answer to parents and administration while adhering to all federal/state/county guidelines and deal with our children. It's a tough job and they deserve our support!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Another "Unedited" Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:
The EACC is at it again. I am writing this letter in response to an article on Wednesday, September 20, "EACC gets its way in board primary" and a letter to the editor on the same day from Ms. Meg McDonald, representative of the EACC, titled "Revolutionary results in the school board primary". For those readers unfamiliar with the EACC, it is ONE of our local teachers unions who is lead by a small but very vocal group of individuals who try to portray themselves as representing ALL the teachers of Charles County. Unfortunately, the information put out by the EACC leaders is frequently inaccurate with the intent of misleading the public and misrepresenting others and me on several issues.

Personally I despise the bantering back and forth in the newspaper between letter writers so as opposed to fabrication, innuendos, and down right slander, I would just like to clarify a few facts.

· I am a Christian and believe in God, he walks and guides me through my daily life. Does this mean I am trying to impose my religious beliefs in the public school system? NO
· Ms. McDonald refers to me as part of a radical right voting block. I strongly encourage all readers to review the minutes of the Board meetings . It it obvious the voting block is Collins Bailey, Donald Wade, Mark Crawford and Cecil Marshall.
· Ms. McDonald refers to the Board of Education "goals" released in 2004. Again, inaccurate information in hopes of misleading the public! We (the board) have never discussed the teaching of creationism, intelligent design, or the distribution of Bibles in schools. Were these topics written on a list as suggestions for future discussion items and submitted by one individual board member? Yes they were! Was it me? NO it was not! I wish the board member that wrote it would be man enough to stand up and admit it in public.
· The Board of Education in which I proudly serve has never discussed the banning of books. We have discussed books on the ?required? reading lists in response to a parental complaint but NO books have ever been banned!
· We, the Board, have never discussed the use of vouchers. Was this submitted by a board member as a possible discussion item on ways to decrease overcrowding? YES, but it was quickly out voted, and I voted against it.
· In March of 2006, Mr. Fisher, President of the EACC, announced to all staff at several schools (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 made aware of the comments (contrary to EACC beliefs I do have teachers supporting me), I questioned Mr. Fisher who was adamant he was correct. After my insistence he reviewed the Board minutes and later called to apologize for he stood corrected. However, Mr. Fisher refused to send out a retraction to all staff informing them of his error.
· Did I oppose the interviewing of a new board member in public? YES, I did! We had over 40 applicants to interview and in an effort to be fair to all of them and not give any one person an advantage I opposed the interviews being conducted in public. However, I did suggest that the names be made public and the interviews be video taped and shown publicly at a later date via the CCPS Comcast station. I was not supported by a majority of my colleagues.

As for the candidates for Board of Education, you the public, have 13 to choose from. Some are very qualified and vying for the position with the best interest of our county?s students in the forefront. Others are not. The five incumbents have actual voting records that the public can easily access and review ( Of the 13 candidates, three (Wise, Gesl, and Stover) have a conflict of interest; their personal family incomes and benefits are directly tied to the Board of Education. In addition, only one non-incumbent has taken the time to actually attend a Board meeting. Please, I urge you the voters, do your own homework and don?t rely on hearsay, the media, or ?little apple ballots?, when you make your decisions for the Board of Education. Our children, their education, and this county?s future is relying on you.
For further details regarding my beliefs, feel free to visit my blog at; or email me at
Thank you,
Jennifer Abell

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"UNEDITED" Letters to the Editor

Below you will read an "unedited" Letter to the Editor submitted to the Maryland Independent on Friday, September 22, 2006 by Ms. Margaret Young. She was kind enough to forward it to me for posting. I wonder if they will print and if they do will it be edited. hmmmmm.

I am no longer a candidate for the school board race, but I would like to respond to two pieces that were printed in the September 20th edition of the Maryland Independent, ?The EACC gets its way in board primary? and Meg MacDonald?s letter to the editor. I would also like to encourage the voters of Charles County to do their own homework.

When EACC administrators, such as Meg MacDonald, have difficulty debating the merits of an issue they resort to purposefully misleading and confusing the general public and their own members as well. Like Chicken Little, they want people to believe the sky is falling. The Chicken Little League manipulates the truth so citizens think the EACC member?s accusations are the actions or statements of the Board or its individual members. Some examples of their tall tales are a religious voting bloc and board goals for teaching creationism, banning books, and distributing Bibles. The roorbacks of the Chicken Little League keep journalists employed, publishers in the black, and readers entertained, but it still doesn?t change what actually occurred.

One high profile example is creationism. A board discussion to include creationism as part of the science curriculum has never occurred during the eight years I?ve been on the board, yet I doubt the general public is aware of that fact. Yes, there was debate ad nauseam on the issue, but the Board was not debating the topic. While the Chicken Little League was out fanning the flames of phobia, the board spent many hours listening to opinions of those that responded to their frantic ?all-call.?

The debate took place in the media and during the public forum portion of our meetings. The agenda for public forum is set by the speakers, not the Board. It is a time for citizens to address the Board and for the Board to listen It is not a time for board members to weigh in on the debate or respond to a misguided speaker?s allegations or unfounded personal attacks. Board members only rendered their personal opinions on creationism when they were contacted by the media.

Yes, one member listed creationism and Bible distribution during a brainstorming session as topics for us to consider discussing in the future. And, granted, that member has met repeatedly with top ranking administrators to push that agenda for years, but it was always done without the Board?s knowledge, let alone Board consent or direction.

Previous Boards were accused of being a rubber stamp for the superintendent. This board has attempted to break that tradition and focus instead on accountability from the superintendent down to the classroom teacher ? that ruffles Chicken Little?s feathers.

It?s 2006, the EACC has an agenda, and that is why they are more than willing to do your homework for you. Their first and foremost responsibility is to improve the benefits and conditions of dues paying members ? not students, taxpayers, voters, or parents. They must ensure Wise, Gesl, and Stover are elected. All three have personal family incomes and benefits that are controlled to a very large extent by the Board. A conflict of interest? You bet! One vote short of a majority, they?re counting on Wade, a former teacher in another county, to round out that fourth vote. The chief negotiator for administration and his wife are both CCPS employees and therefore benefit directly from the negotiated outcome. Either students will suffer program cuts or taxpayers can look forward to a serious shakedown if these four EACC endorsed candidates are elected. And, heaven help any student or parent that attempts to appeal a school or administrative decision to a ?neutral? Board.

Don?t let the EACC or any other organization do your homework for you. Get your head out of opinion pieces and start looking at some primary documents like the actual voting records and minutes; they are available on line and they paint a very different picture. Surf the candidates? websites. Better yet, attend some of the meetings if your schedule allows. Yes, some housecleaning is in order. Still, there are several excellent school board candidates from which to choose ? ones that don?t have financial and personal conflicts of interest or a covert religious agenda. Contact them directly to get the facts and unedited opinions. The Chicken Little League has an agenda, and that?s exactly why they want to do your homework and fill in your ballot for you.

Margaret Young

Saturday, September 09, 2006

SAT Results

Well the 2006 report is out. Charles County Public Schools (seniors only) average score on the SAT is 1537, which is above the state (1511) and national (1518) averages. The average score for the mathematics section is 515, the writing section is 510 and the critical reading portion is 512.

The percentage of seniors taking the SAT increased from 32.5% in 2005 to 34.4% in 2006.

Mr. Richmond and staff are doing a great job on keeping the scores above the state and national averages. This news is fantastic! We're remaining steady on the upward trend in scores and the percentage taking the SAT's.

On the down side, does anyone notice something that is really astounding. Or maybe it's just me...ONLY 34.4% OF OUR GRADUATING SENIORS ARE TAKING THE SAT!!

How do you the community feel about this? What can be done? Let me know your opinion and ideas.

Sex Education

In my March of Dimes capacity, I have the opportunity to work with the health department, hospital, social services, and local school system on the local FIMR board. We meet every month and review statistics, cases and deaths of infants and children in the county witht he primary goal of prevention. Unfortunately in this county, homelessness, lack of prenatal care, premature birth, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction and teen pregnancies is a growing problem affecting a healthy birth outcome. If all parents were responsible, diligent and had an open line of communication with their children where they could teach their children about sex, then their wouldn't be a need for it to be taught in the schools. Unfortunately, we do not live in that perfect world. We have students in our high schools that don't know how to tie their shoes or brush their teeth properly much less about hormones, sex, pregnancy, and STD's. We have girls starting their menses without a clue as to what is going on. With all that being said, the school system currently uses an opt-out method for sex education. Opt-out means the students will be in the class, which you might or might not get notice about, unless a parent sends a note saying they do not want them in the class. I support, would like to change, and tried to implement an Opt-In method. Opt-In means the students are not allowed in the class unless parents sign the permission slip. This keeps all parents fully informed, allows them to review the curriculum and those parents who have already discussed the issues with their children can make the decision for them to refrain from the class. When I brought this up I did not get a majority vote from my fellow members and the idea wasn't well received amongst staff. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Board Transparency/Televising

I support an open and transparent Board of Education and while the current times for the school board meetings might be more convenient for Board members, I believe they need to be held in the late afternoon/evening hours as they were previously. Mr. Crawford made a motion for this change and was supported by members Wade, Marshall, and Bailey in January of this year. Ms. Young, Mr. Coggins, and myself did not vote in favor of this change. In addition, I have advocated for televised Board meetings for the past two years. I have served on a Board Communication Committee and an Interagency Communication Committee with the Charles County Government. Both committees recommendations were to televise the Board meetings. North Point is already equipped to televise these meetings and Comcast has given us a channel that we are in danger of losing if not utilized. Televising the meetings could be done with minimal costs but must have a majority vote of a Board that wishes to be transparent. In addition, the channel could be utilized for school events, student courses and staff training.

On another note, there has been a lot of controversy over the appointing of new Board members and whether this should be done in public. Please let me clarify my position. During the last appointing process where Mr. Coggins was selected, the Board was advised by their attorney, Mr. Eric Schwartz, to repeat the same process as previously used. The Board, voted by a majority to accept their attorney's recommendation. I believe the interviews could have been video taped and made available for public viewing after the announcement of the selected member. You see, we had 42 applicants who couldn't all be interviewed on the same day. For the interview process to take place in a public setting would have given the later applicants an unfair advantage over the first applicants. They would have been aware of the questioning and would have been able to prepare for their interviews. Some applicants would have had an unfair advantage and this is what I was against, not public transaprency as misrepresented by others.