Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

From my home to yours,
a very blessed Christmas,
happy holidays,
and a wish for a wonderful new year!

Get Myspace Christmas Countdown

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Inclement Weather Procedures

I get asked all the time, "how and when is delayed arrival or closing of schools occur?" Well, click HERE for some of your answers.

Notes from Board Meeting, 12/11/07

The televised Board Meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Public Forum
  • Male - Use to be excited about Charles County . MSA scores proved a good system prior to moving here. System has been a disappointment. One child in elementary and one in middle school. Children not receiving a rigorous and challenging education. Expect order and discipline in classrooms. Expect more from school board and results not lip service

  • Male - More taxes but no new funds for school construction. Look at alternatives. Mentioned last months comments re two sessions at one high school. Address issues of overcrowding without building. Be a leader that you promised to be during your campaign and stop being led by administration

Action - Approval of Minutes

*Motion by Carrington, seconded by Pedersen to approve 11/13/07 minutes

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond (Given by Ron Cunningham)

  • View Report
  • Richmond keynote speaker at Public Services Summit held in Stockholm Sweden
  • Committed to doing whatever possible to promote safe driving on the part of our students
  • Middleton will meet with SGA's on Thursday to solicit input
  • Richmond meeting with CSM to discuss offering drivers education at schools after hours.
  • It's Academic competition
  • First JROTC Military Ball
  • Archery tournament, all-county concerts, regional art show
  • Parent @ School - will be adding a link to determine your school zones based on address
Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • Pedersen - Legislative committee - CCPS $5.7M less than last year
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher
  • View Update
  • General Assembly (read report)
  • Extra pay for extracurricular activities committee
  • Myths & Facts about teachers pay

Report - Student Board Member - Ashin Shah

  • Meeting this Thursday. Coffey & Middleton attending to discuss teen driving issues
  • Upcoming conference @ Chopticon
  • Senior Prom Feb 29th @ Jaycees
  • ARC of Southern Maryland volunteer opportunities

Report - Deputy Superintendent - Ron Cunningham, Keith Grier - Student Services - Homeless Students

  • View Student Service Report
  • McKinney Vento Act is the federal law that governs the right of homeless students (enrollment without barriers, school of origin, transportation, free meals, supplies/materials)
  • Federal grant $23,000 in final year will be reapplied
  • 05/06 = 325 students; 06/07 = 341 students; 07/08 already at 221 and expect to exceed last years number
  • Attendance problems - Chronic problems identified by school. If results aren't positive, referral to Central Office. Goal is to identify causes for absences and prepare and implement a plan
  • Court Liaison - Mr. Sams (Juvenile court, Adolescent Drug Court, Children in Need of Assistance)
  • Reportable offenses - system notified by sheriff's and a meeting is held to determine if student is dangerous to themselves or others
  • Pedersen - homeless vs living with grandparents
  • Staff - certain questions you are allowed to asks and certain ones you cannot according to mandates
  • Pedersen - Safe Nights - do we work with them
  • Staff - yes rather closely
  • Bailey - documentation questions on immigrants
  • Staff - birth certificates, etc. One case at a time. We accept all students and then attempt to get birth certificates
  • Bailey - What if not a U.S. citizen
  • Staff - We still accept them and teach them
  • Shah - How are new to the system homeless students zoned
  • Staff - wherever they are currently located

Report – Special Education - Judy Estep

  • View Special Education Report (tons of information)
  • Requests a CCPS facility as opposed to High Roads; possibly transitional from residential non-public facility to regular school
  • Early Childhood Inclusion - again tons of information...see report
  • Abell - High Roads is "for profit"...why are we supporting them and providing so much assistance?
  • Dr. Holland - good question
  • Staff - They are our students and we want to support them and make sure they receive what they need. High Roads knows where and what they need to do.
  • Pedersen - Look forward to having these kids under our roof
  • Carrington - Look at budget and grants to get this started
  • Wise - send students all the way to Texas?
  • Staff - one student who wasn't accepted at facilities in Maryland or surrounding states

Report – Supporting Services (CIP)- Chuck Wineland, Steve Hagis, Jerry Barrett

  • See report CIP Update
  • Neal - 60% complete; open in August, turns over to principal in June
  • Somers 60% complete; finish in August
  • Craik - 95% complete; finish in January
  • IAC & Grasmick meeting 12/3
  • Pedersen - possibility of having two sessions at one high school...which high school would be the best location to implement
  • Wineland - Doesn't want to answer this question; defer to Cunningham
  • Cunningham - Doesn't want to identify any one high school and cause concerns
  • Bailey - economic ramifications
  • Abell - supports Pedersen; seeking alternatives needs to be addresses including dual sessions and year round schooling
  • See report Inclement Weather Procedures for details and procedures

Report - Budget - Paul Balides

  • View Report Budget Update
  • November financials. Right where we need to be

Report - Human Resources - Keith Hettel

  • See Report Drug/Alcohol Testing Program Policy #1, #2
  • Add/change policy 4821 to state the superintendent can implement drug and alcohol testing policy
  • Pedersen - # of employees needing drug testing annually
  • Hettel 2- 5 employees
  • Pedersen - Why adjustment to policy for low #'s
  • Hettel - Alcohol suspicion on the job but we cannot require testing
  • Wise - Independent lab used, same as bus drivers
  • Carrington - If work injury or accident, do we test?
  • Hettel - No
  • Abell - Hopefully we drive them to the lab and are the unions in agreement with this policy
  • Hettel - yes we drive them and EACC has concerns with outcome of tests and actions taken
  • Shah - Who orders testing
  • Hettel - Priniipal, follows a check list
  • Bailey - wording change in #1 to say and/or
  • Wise - # of counties implement
  • Hettel - quite a few: knows Carroll County does

Action - Personnel

*Motion by Wise, seconded by Carrington to approve Personnel

Action - Schematics on high school 2011

  • Bailey - Calvert County project only $57M. Staff comparison on square footage shows ours is actually cheaper per square foot.

*Motion by Pedersen, seconded by Wise to approve schematics on high school 2011

Action - Addition of Courses to Program of Studies

*Motion by Wise, seconded by Pedersen to approve addition of courses to program of studies

Unfinished Business

  • Cook - Community outreach initiative from MABE needs to be worked on
  • Abell - "What Counts"? Committee was formed in September
  • Pedersen - Blue Ribbon Commission - Diversity forum 2/16...8-2 @ CSM

New Business

  • Full Day Kindergarten Design Consultants (no electronic report provided)

*Motion by Carrington, seconded by Wise to approve full day kindergarten design consultants

Future Agenda Items

  • Wise - revisit board meeting time in January
  • Pedersen - firm understanding of rebroadcast times
  • Abell - Wednesdays at 9 am and Sundays at 2 pm
  • Abell - Update on Dual Enrollment discussions with CSM
  • Abell - review Board Benchmarks and Communication Goal set in 2005 due for annual review. suggested the possibility of having a board committee to review. Left to discretion of chairman.
  • Wade - wants a motion

*Motion by Abell to review board benchmarks and communication goal
No Second - No Vote

  • Wade - wants a more specific motion

*Motion by Abell, seconded by Bailey to review board benchmarks and communication goal as a committee
No Vote

  • Pedersen - What is Ms. Abell looking to change?
  • Abell - Not looking to change anything in particular. Part of the original motion that was passed in 2005 stated that we would review these annually and we have not done so. New board needs to review, change, or delete but it needs to come forward for that.
  • Wise - would prefer the whole board
  • Pedersen - review at the work session in January
  • Bailey - changing it to work session instead of committee he won't second it.

*Motion by Abell, seconded by Pedersen to review board benchmarks and communication goal during a work session

  • Carrington - financial literacy- stock market game...we are one of only 4 counties in the state not participating
  • Estep - we do participate in a stock market game, uncertain if its the same exact one
  • Bailey - Schedule a meeting for the board to discuss APFO subcommittee report


What School Am I Zoned For?

According to a report given by Deputy Superintendent Ron Cunningham on Tuesday, parents will soon be able to go to the Charles County Public Schools web-site, enter an address and find out what schools your address is zoned for. I know this has been suggested by some of my readers before and it is finally going to happen. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Don't Appoint Grasmick AGAIN!!!

Those words were heard loud and clear yesterday. The State Board of Education will be deciding whether to renew the four year term of Nancy Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Many are opposed.

The two Democratic leaders of the Maryland General Assembly urged the State Board of Education yesterday to delay a decision about extending the tenure of Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, who is locked in an ugly power struggle with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) over her future.

The board, a majority of whose members were appointed by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), could appoint Grasmick to another four-year term as early as today. Grasmick's new term would start July 1, the day O'Malley will gain a majority of appointees on the board, whose 12 members serve staggered terms.

Read more HERE.

Friday, December 07, 2007

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 12/11/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, December 11th.
Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesday at 9:00 am and Sunday at 2:00 pm.

3:30 - Executive Session
4:30 - Recognition
5:30 - Board Meeting begins
6:30 - Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)

The remainder of the meeting immediately follows Public Forum

To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:

Action Items:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weeding out the Bad Teachers

In Education Week, New York City Taps Lawyers to Weed Out Bad Teachers.

"An aggressive drive meant to weed out incompetent tenured teachers in New York City is under attack from the local teachers’ union and some teacher-quality advocates, who describe it as a “witch hunt.”

Read more HERE

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AP Score Analysis

Okay...sorry it took so long but this was a difficult task. Below my ramblings here, you will see my overall analysis and observations by school and course, based on the information I could ascertain by begging, borrowing, and bribing for scores. If I don't mention a course, either it wasn't offered at that school or I was unable to conclude an analysis. Now to get other items out of the way.

  • I really don't understand, but I do accept, the "blanking" out of the scores for the public where students individual scores may be realized. However, to "blank" out the scores for the board members is absolutely ludicrous, especially when we have received the scores as confidential documents, unmodified, in previous years. This is definitely a hard pill to swallow. How am I as a board member suppose to make informed decisions or evaluate the superintendent on his performance if I don't know his performance? This brings to mind a case I've reviewed recently...King vs. Ambellan (just one of many on this same topic). Although this case was decided in New York, it does set a precedence, not to mention it is quoted in many, many other cases since. In this case, the majority of the board instructed the superintendent that the requesting board member be denied access to the records he requested involving a project funded by the school district. The requesting member sued for access, and the court granted him access.

"A member of a Board of Education has broad supervisory responsibility over the expenditure of district funds and the efficiency of the school system. He is elected to act upon behalf of the people and to do this he must have full information concerning the whole operation ....
The Court is of the opinion that the majority members of the Board of Education may not, by resolution or otherwise, restrict this right of every board member to be fully acquainted with the records and business of the district."

I'm still pondering this one.

  • Isn't it ironic that when it comes to AP scores it is stated "test scores aren't everything, it's the experience of taking the course" yet when it comes to HSA's and meeting AYP, test scores are EVERYTHING.


What can we conclude from this? Very little due to the lack of TOTAL information and we would need a couple of years to really show a trend. But here are my opinions.

  1. The disparity of courses offered amongst the high schools is vast. I would like to encourage and hope that we can utilize some of our new technology to offer courses, in danger of being cancelled due to low enrollment at one high school, via the television or web in order for all students to have the same opportunity.
  2. The percentage of AP enrollment actually tested has continued to creep up through the years. Yeah!!! We went from 87.4% last year to 88.8% this year.
  3. When enrollment went down, scores generally went up. I would think that if enrollment decreased and scores decreased...there might be a problem that needs further consideration.
  4. Some courses, across all high schools, went down in enrollment and scores. Big potential problem, possibly with the curriculum.
  5. Classes where enrollment increased and scores increased...kudos! Congratulations! Thank you! That's what we want. Students interested in the course and involved in active learning and retention of information.


  1. Calculus AB - tested down; scores down
  2. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores down
  3. English Lit & Comp - tested avg.; scores up
  4. European History - tested down; scores avg.
  5. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  6. Psychology - tested avg.;scores up
  7. US History - tested down; scores up


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested up; scores down
  3. Chemistry - tested up; scores down
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores down
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested down.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  7. European History - tested avg; scores way down
  8. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score down
  9. Govt. & Politics US - tested up; score down
  10. History of Art - tested up; score avg
  11. Music Theory - tested down; scores down
  12. Physics B - tested up; scores up


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested down; scores up
  3. Chemistry - tested down; scores up
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested down; scores down
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  7. European History - tested down; scores avg
  8. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score avg
  9. Govt. & Politics US - tested up; score up
  10. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  11. Physics B - tested up; scores up
  12. Physics C Elec. & Magnet - tested way down; scores up
  13. Physics C Mechanics - tested way down; scores up
  14. Psychology - tested up; scores way down
  15. Spanish Language - tested way up; scores way down


  1. Biology - tested up; scores up
  2. Calculus AB - tested way up; scores avg
  3. Chemistry - tested up; scores way down
  4. English Lang & Comp - tested down; scores up
  5. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  6. Environmental Science - tested up; scores down
  7. European History - tested up; scores down
  8. Human Geography - tested up; scores way down
  9. Music Theory - tested avg; scores down
  10. Physics B - tested up; scores down
  11. Psychology - tested avg; scores way down


  1. Biology - tested down; scores down
  2. Calculus AB - tested avg; scores down
  3. Chemistry - tested down; scores up
  4. Computer Science A - tested up; scores down
  5. English Lang & Comp - tested up; scores up
  6. English Lit & Comp - tested up.; scores down
  7. Environmental Science - tested down; scores down
  8. European History - tested down; scores down
  9. Govt. & Politics Comp - tested up; score up
  10. Govt. & Politics US - tested avg; score up
  11. History of Art - tested down; scores up
  12. Music Theory - tested down; scores up
  13. Psychology - tested up; scores up


  1. First year

Open Thread!

"Open Thread" is a place for you to tell me what you would like to see on this site. What can I do to make it more user-friendly, topics you would like to see discussed in the future, questions or concerns. So here you go, give me your feedback.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles

According to the New York Times...

Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and cafeteria lines.

Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.
Read more HERE

IMHO, we have come along way on the foods offered at school. Could more be done? Definitely. I also believe the current CCPS Policy is too strict and possibly misinterpreted the intent of the state (MSDE MOM #12 Guidelines) and federal (law 108-265, section June 30, 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004) rules and regulations. For example, some schools require adherence for ALL incoming foods, even those donated for special occasions. In other words, no cupcakes or ice cream sundaes for parties. Instead maybe we could do away with that greasy cafeteria pizza or those nasty frozen-fried chicken nuggets.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Proposed U.S. Rules on Bus Safety Draw Mixed Reactions

I know safety restraints on buses has been a hot topic for some of my readers and I came across this article on Education Week today. Evidently there has been a federal proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would require small school buses—those that weigh 10,000 pounds or less—to be equipped with lap-and-shoulder belts instead of just lap belts, as current rules require. Also, seat backs on all school buses would have to be raised to 24 inches, from 20 inches.

Read more HERE.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How U.S. 4th Graders Measure Up Internationally

According to an article by the Center for Public Education...

The latest results from an international reading assessment were released today showing that U.S. fourth graders continue to perform well compared to their peers in other countries. The test—Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)—further shows that U.S. performance is relatively unchanged from the last administration of the test in 2001. The 2006 PIRLS was administered to thirty-eight countries, five Canadian provinces, and two samples in Belgium in Flemish and French.

Read more HERE.

Notes, Legislative Breakfast, 11/29/07

The televised Legislative Breakfast will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Attendees (to my best recollection)
BOE Members - Abell, Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Pedersen, Wade, Wise
Commissioners - Cooper, Hodge, Graves
Delegates - Levy, Murphy
Senate - Middleton, Hoyer representative
CCPS Staff - Richmond, Cunningham, Estep, Wineland, Schwartz, Stotemeyer, O'Malley-Simpson, Hettel
Others - Comfort

  • Bailey - Boards legislative positions. Emphasis on teacher rehires
  • Levy - Comes up every year. Supports. Baltimore City & PG against because rehires will not want to work in difficult systems
  • Richmond - education issues and taxes clarification
  • Levy - Thorton funding adjusted/delayed. Governor proposed $200M reduction. Changes to $149M. Still a lot of challenges with education funding especially school construction. Over the long term these actions will build a strong foundation.
  • Middleton - growing concern on disparity across the state of teacher retirement
  • Cooper - fiscal impact on school system?
  • Richmond - has numbers but haven't looked at overall impact. Concerned about opening new elementary school
  • Balides - enrollment went flat this year. funding formula based on enrollment. New numbers in December
  • Middleton - Annapolis aware. It is a state issue. Some jurisdictions actually lost.
  • Richmond - need extra help with future growth anticipation
  • Levy - Maryland dealing with overage of debt from years. Can't borrow more. No new commitments on capital construction. Amount is set. 2013 should be lifted. Slots should generate funds
  • Middleton - Capital projects funded with GO bonds not cash. Dire straights
  • Wineland - 3.2% of IAC funds approximately $10M per year. State granting more projects with smaller parts of funds. State still owes $12M on Neal and $6M on Davis. Possibility of new projects slim.
  • Levy - Dust settles, deficits will be identifiable and fixes will be visible.
  • Levy - environment, health care and transportation as well as other programs have been neglected through the years. If the economy gets worst, the outlook is going to darken
  • Hodge - Did special session settle budget and matters or more to come?
  • Levy - Both. Budget matters were settled and nibbling is foreseeable to correct structural deficit.
  • Hodge - Are we going to take another hit in the next session or additional funds being released?
  • Levy - Shouldn't see additional hits. Governor has $200M in cuts to make before next session. Counties should plan about 1%
  • Middleton - Governor loyal to counties, don't foresee local government cuts
  • Cooper - unfunded mandates. all day kindergarten implemented approximately $70M impact on local government. need to be considered by people making decisions on budget.
  • Richmond - best mandate state has ever done. Capital side unfunded. Bridge to excellence funding paid positions, etc.
  • Middleton - Nothing from Superintendent's prior to Thorton passing
  • Richmond - thank you but operating and capital cost needs to be balanced
  • Middleton - population projections need to be looked at
  • Pedersen - plan for 5-10 years out of Thorton. Funds are in jeopardy. Already one high school behind. Growing counties given special consideration?
  • Levy - Can get us those numbers. Pot of funds can be redistributed. larger jurisdictions with shrinking enrollment will not go for this redistribution
  • Middleton - Thorton should be fully implemented in 3 years
  • Levy - Thorton formula will be revisited in 2011 for impact
  • Carrington - hats off for making the tough decisions. We are flat now but when we had the growth we didn't get the extra funding. Still one high school behind
  • Wade - Shortage of teachers. Amazed that federal and state laws require highly qualified teachers yet the state isn't producing them
  • Hettel - state produces approximately 5,000 per teachers per year and need is 10,000-11,000. Recruit from further away. Cost of living. Increased salaries and compressed pay scale to stay competitive. Used to have good scholarship programs in the state that went by the way side. CSM very supportive. Teacher recruitment and retention problem is compounding.
  • Wade - Grasmick spoke 7 years ago about the neglect in the teacher education program. Year-round recruitment.
  • Levy - higher education recognizes problem but their against unfunded mandates also. Baby boomers will be retiring soon. Need re -prioritization of higher education funding. Need to implement "grow your own" Wants specifics
  • Graves - Use to have state teachers colleges, now universities. Look at local colleges to replace. Look at retired career individuals to hire as teachers. Active program to recruit and assist.
  • Middleton - Across all employment sectors due to baby boomers retiring. Doctors, nurses, etc.
  • Pedersen - Second career "hoops" and requirements causing difficulties. Not implying no training is needed.
  • Middleton - energy conservation and teenage driving
  • Murphy - It's never over until it's over. Please keep communication open
  • Graves - Teen driving issues. Level of teacher competency. Seat belt use on school property or loose privileges.
  • Abell - consider legislation of parent notification for teen moving violations
  • Middleton - Have one in place
  • Abell - flaw in implementing
  • Pedersen - kudos for CSM driving program
  • Cooper - retreat in February. possibility of two days instead of one. possible over night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Police to Help Monitor at Local High Schools

Starting tomorrow, officers from the Charles County Sheriff's Office will be working with the school resource officers to check for seat belt use and the number of passengers in each student's car. If a student is found in violation of the driving laws, tickets will be issued. The officers will no longer give warnings. Police will report all tickets to the school as well as to parents. Students receiving citations may have their parking privileges and permission to drive to school revoked or suspended. Parents driving students to school will also be monitored for seat belt usage.

Thank you Charles County Sheriff's Office

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Municipalist

Check out this cool blog Municipalist about the potential and power of blogging government officials including their trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Yours truly was even featured yesterday, November 27th. It's quite interesting to see other government officials blog sites and what they are saying. It's also quite exciting to watch the wave swell. Enjoy!

The Great Seat Belt Debate

Should seat belts be installed on school buses? Review the facts on School Transportation News and provide me with your feedback.

Historically, the primary reasons proponents have urged seat belts on large school buses include the following.

  • If a crash should occur, the use of seat belts will reduce the probability of death (and the severity of injuries) to children correctly seated in post-1977 buses.
  • Seat belt usage improves passenger behavior and reduces driver distractions;
  • Seat belts offer protection against injuries in rollover or side impact crashes;
  • Seat belt usage in school buses has a carryover effect to future use when riding in other vehicles;
  • The cost to install seat belts is nominal.

Meanwhile, opponents of 2-point seat belts in large school buses contend otherwise.

  • More children are killed in the danger zone around the school bus and as pedestrians walking to and from the school bus stop, than inside the school bus. Seat belts are of no value in these accidents;There is no data to show that seat belts would reduce fatalities or injuries;
  • Fatalities inside school buses represent a very small percent of all school bus fatalities;
  • Over the past two decades compartmentalization has demonstrated it works;
  • The carryover value is negligible, in fact there is no proof of carryover value;
  • Money proposed for seat belt installation would be better spent on other safety measures.

The bottom line, say opponents, is there are no data to show that a safety problem exists in school buses that would be solved by the installation of lap belts.

Read the complete article HERE.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

HEADS UP!!! APFO Work Session Tomorrow


Just found out today that the APFO (Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance or in laymans terms...formula for allocating school seats) Joint Committee (Commissioners and Board of Education) will be briefing the commissioners tomorrow, Wednesday, November 28th at 3:00. Yes, this is an open meeting and I'm sure a number of developers will be in attendance... so if you can make it, please do.

Commissioners Interoffice Memo

Adequate Public Facilites Resolution

'No Child' Law May Slight The Gifted, Experts Say

...according to an article in the Washington Post. I don't have to be an "expert" to have figured this one out.


Some scholars are joining parent advocates in questioning whether the education law No Child Left Behind, with its goal of universal academic proficiency, has had the unintended consequence of diverting resources and attention from the gifted.

Proponents of gifted education have forever complained of institutional neglect. Public schools, they say, pitch lessons to the broad middle group of students at the expense of those working beyond their assigned grade. Now, under the federal mandate, schools are trained on an even narrower group: students on the "bubble" between success and failure on statewide tests.

Read more HERE.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dropout Factories

In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, "A plan to fix 'dropout factories'" --
More students will stay if school is harder, safer, and more relevant.

Read the article HERE.

How do we in Charles County fair? Not to shabby if you use the states formula. :)

The percentage of students dropping out of school in grades 9 through 12 in a single year. The number and percentage of students who leave school for any reason, except death, before graduation or completion of a Maryland approved educational program and who are not known to enroll in another school or state-approved program during the current school year. The year is defined as July through June and includes students dropping out over the summer and students dropping out of evening high school and other alternative programs.

The dropout rate is computed by dividing the number of dropouts by the total number of students in grades 9 - 12 served by the school.

Note: Students who re-enter school during the same year in which they dropped out of school are not counted as dropouts.

Reported since November 1990: System and State levels.
Reported since November 1991: School.

Additional information may be found on the School Improvement in Maryland Web site at and the Maryland State Department of Education Web site at .

2007 2.73
2006 3.37
2005 3.45
2004 3.67
2003 2.94
2002 3.19
2001 3.34
2000 4.02
1999 3.45
1998 4.35
1997 4.06
1996 3.29
1995 3.43
1994 3.67
1993 3.17

REMINDER, Legislative Breakfast, 11/29/07

REMINDER: Moved this post back up to the top.

The Board of Education will be attending a legislative breakfast with the county commissioners and delegation on November 29th, 7:30 - 9am, at the Starkey Building. We will be submitting our 2008 package of Legislative Issues. I am requesting input from my constituents (as soon as possible) on legislative issues you would like to have modified, deleted or added. Please click below to view the 2007 Legislative Package that was submitted to the commissioners in 06 to use as a starting point.

2007 Board of Education Legislative Issues
2008 Board of Education Legislative Issues

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AP Test Scores

Well here they are...AP Test scores broken down by school, by subject. Please click on the link below to view, print, analyze, and provide some feedback. I personally just received them late last night and have not had the opportunity to analyze them. I will refrain from commenting until I do. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!


PS. I apologize for the small print, I tried various different methods of uploading these documents on and off all day and now I must start cooking :) You can print the charts or copy, paste and then enlarge. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.

STILL WORKING TO REMEDY THE CLARITY. IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR OWN COPY (much clearer than the uploaded version), please email me at

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vital Source

HSAs: How Charles County Helps Students

Building a Nation of Polyglots

Yes I said polyglots. Simply stated, it means multilingual or able to read, write, speak, several languages. After reading the below article, give me your thoughts. We (Charles County) are not building polyglots but we do offer courses in various languages. Is that enough?


The United States, often fiercely chauvinistic and sometimes outright isolationist, has never considered the ability to speak a foreign language an essential talent. Unlike many Europeans and Asians who learn languages in primary school, most Americans do not get the chance until high school or in the grades just before — at too advanced an age to soak in quirky words and syntax with the nimbleness needed for fluency. That is why traveling Americans resign themselves to speaking menu French or Spanish.

But with an economy that recognizes few geographical borders, and with people from all over the planet becoming our next-door neighbors, more Americans are demanding language instruction earlier in school.

Read more HERE

Authorized 2007-2008 AP Courses

A devoted reader sent me this little goodie...thank you!

If you click on the link below, it will take you to a page on the College Board site. Next you will type in the school name and it will list AP courses offered in the 2007-08 academic year that are authorized to include the "AP" designation when listed on students' transcripts. These courses were reviewed by the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) as part of the AP Course Audit in 2007.

Authorized 2007-2008 AP Courses

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

National School Boards Association

As some of you may remember, I was invited to be a blog contributor at the 2007National School Board Association Conference in San Fransisco. The 2008 Conference is scheduled for the end of March in Orlando and I have been invited to be a presenter in a session currently titled "Blogging School District Leaders: Directly Engage Your Community Using the Internet". I have accepted the offer and feel honored and privileged to represent our county at the national level. Thank you for your support.

RELATED ARTICLE ON BAYNET: "Abell Flexes Blogosphere Muscles"

FBI Studies Crime in Schools

FBI Press Release

According to incident statistics submitted to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, of all arrestees involved in incidents occurring at schools, colleges, or universities from 2000 to 2004, 37.7 percent were associated with violent crimes.

The findings are part of the study “Crime in Schools and Colleges: A Study of Offenders and Arrestees Reported via National Incident-Based Reporting System Data” released today by the FBI.

For the study period 2000-2004, there were 17,065,074 crime incidents reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Of these incidents, 558,219, or 3.3 percent, occurred at schools, colleges, or universities (hereafter schools). Based on the data received for the incidents at schools, there were 688,612 offender records (both known and unknown), and 181,468 persons were arrested in connection with the incidents. Further analyses of known characteristics among these incidents revealed the following:

Read more HERE

Notes from Board Meeting, 11/13/07

The televised Board Meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 9:00 am and Sundays at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Public Forum
  • Female - spoke with Mr. Cunningham prior to public forum. Will hold off on commenting at this time because Cunningham offered to work on issues relayed in an email to the Board.
  • Male - Over testing. Teaching to the test takes away valuable instruction time. Statistics artificially depict actual education. Look outside the norm. Kids only learning "inside the box". No creative thinking skills being taught.
  • Male - Rethink high school schedules for better economy. Pilot program for Stone, Westlake, and North Point on a student volunteer basis. Have one school start at 7:30 and then have the same school start another session of high school courses at 2:30 or 3:00. Allow one school to offer year round school. The third school would have a traditional schedule.

Action - Approval of Minutes

*Vote to approve 9/24/07 and 10/9/07 minutes

New High School 2011 - SHW Design group
  • View Report HERE
  • View presentation HERE
  • "Green" elements discussed
  • large parking lot put on north end to keep heat from entering the building
  • Carrington - Faculty space and bathrooms seems larger than necessary
  • SHW - not all teachers will have a dedicated classroom. Lounge used as office space
  • Carrington - Fire alarm system flows are there but tampers are not
  • SHW - That's a narrative and will be addressed later
  • Bailey - Flat roof?
  • SHW - it is slanted per state regulation 1/4 inch per foot
  • Bailey - Showers...modest?
  • SHW - yes
Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • Abell - invited by the National School Board Association to present a session on blogging and engaging the community at the National Conference in March. She accepted
  • Carrington - Vice Principal Jones at Lackey being inducted into the Hall of Fame
  • Pedersen - Thank you to Wise for presenting at the legislative session. Senate & House are working diligently to save education funding.

Report – Superintendent – Jim Richmond

  • View Report HERE
  • Loss of 4 students at LaPlata; crisis plan worked well
  • Report cards issued, conferences
  • Parents @ School web-site still working on glitches
  • American Freedom Week activities. JROTC participated in Veterans Day Parade
  • 11/19 Student Recognition
  • 12/1 All County Chorus Concerts
  • Audit report clean. No findings
  • Cognitive Abilities Test conducted this week
  • Communications Department won award for presentation on Digital Classroom
Report – EACC – Bill Fisher
  • View Report HERE
  • Thanks to Wise for presenting to legislation
  • currently campaigning to lobby our legislators in Annapolis to fund Governors Budget with no freezes and no caps to school systems
  • invites BOE members to Annapolis with him
  • American Education Week
  • 12/12 Annual legislative reception @ CSM

Report - Student Board Member - Ashin Shah

  • NO CCASC Meeting this month
  • 10/27 MS attended leadership conference
  • 2 students will go to legislative conference @ Chopticon
  • Kids Helping Hopkins is adopted charity and fundraising
  • SGA coordinates all homecomings. Successful
  • Annual Senior Citizens Prom held in February

Report - Deputy Superintendent - Ron Cunningham, Keith Grier - Student Services - School Psychologists

  • View Power Point Presentation HERE
  • 38,000 national, 750 state, 30 county
  • ratio recommended 1:1000 students; we are 1:1404 and steadily improving
  • Training and credentials
  • Safe Schools
  • Suicide Prevention - 45 risk assessments performed already this school year. Assessments tracked from school to schools in event of transfer or promotion
  • Risk assessments have increases dramatically. Not shocking. Means system is working and students are talking instead of acting
  • Violent Risk assessments
  • Wise - Student Support Team - still operating?
  • Grier - Yes
  • Cook - School Counselor credentials
  • Grier - Varies but at least a masters
  • Carrington - Who can make a referral and is it confidential
  • Anyone and depends on case. Students can report confidentially
  • Abell - actual # of suicides or attempted over last few years
  • Grier - Actual confirmed and reported approx. 1 per year x 6 years. steady
  • Pedersen - how long is crisis team at incidents?
  • Grier - until school returns to normalcy. Day after event full team is dispatched and then weaned
  • Grier - Report next month on homeless students

Report – Gifted Education - Judy Estep

  • View Power Point Presentation HERE
  • CogAT Test per COMAR Guidelines requiring identification of Gifted Education students
  • Parent notification; parents will receive scores
  • Staff development ongoing
  • Multiple criteria
  • not to identify and label students. Identify students with additional needs
  • Additional duties to gifted resource teachers. Need to be full-time at all schools.
  • Procedure = broad based screening, in depth assessment, students needs matched to services, parent information
  • Services available at all schools
  • Wise - CogAT doesn't show creative side. Teacher recommendation comes in? What if a child is good at Art...what is the plan?
  • Estep - Yes...teacher or parent referral and as for a plan, we are not at that stage yet.
  • Cook - worried about pressure with tagging students
  • Pedersen - Middle school students picked up by parents and transported to high school math class...Do you this trend increasing or offering more at home school. Some students aren't mature enough to be in the high school environment
  • Estep - more at home school
  • Cook - Leadership aspect
  • Estep - Teachers or parent recommendation
  • Wise - television used for courses
  • Yes...all technologies

Report – Addition of Courses - Judy Estep, Wanda Sellers

  • View Report HERE
  • Marketing Practices & Principles (Business Education)
  • Web Design and Development (Computer Technology)
  • Pedersen - different levels available
  • Sellers - instructor can provide individualized instruction for advanced students
  • Bailey - Pilot program criteria? Cost? Materials? Financial literacy
  • Sellers - Pilot phase. Teacher interest, need, student interest. Staff availability, materials supplied by CCPS and a lot of free materials used. Committee approves. Investment and Financial Management already offered
  • Carrington - wants more info on that course and possibly make it a mandatory class

Report – Supporting Services (CIP)- Steve Hagis, Jerry Barrett

  • See report HERE
  • Presented CIP to IAC. Well received
  • Neal - 55% complete
  • Somers - Phase one almost complete. Transition to Phase two over holidays
  • Craik - all work remaining is on interior and being completed after school hours. Completed by end of the year
  • Wise - Craik flat roof?
  • Hagis - No it is sloped

Report – Budget (Audit) – Paul Balides

  • View Report HERE
  • View Audit Letter HERE
  • Clean audit
  • financial statements are in accordance with regulations
  • internal control - no material weaknesses
  • no instances of non-compliance with laws and regulations
  • nothing negative or out of the ordinary
  • performed our audits for two years. Also audits Charles County Government

Report - Bridge to Excellence - Paul Balides

  • See Report HERE
  • funds sunsets Fall 2008. Additional funds 04-08
  • funding $46.2M over 5 years
  • Expenditures = highly qualified teachers, materials, class size reduction, technology, full-day kindergarten, NCLB initiatives, transfer state grants, North Point
  • Revenues = $46,152,411
  • Expenses = $61,184,789
  • Wise - Extremely thorough report
  • Pedersen - thank you, very thorough

Action - Personnel

*Vote to approve Personnel

Unfinished Business

  • None

New Business/Future Agenda Items

  • View 2008 Legislative Positions DRAFT HERE presented by Attorney Eric Schwartz
  • Pedersen - input staff based?
  • Schwartz - Yes
  • Abell - Reason for change in presentation from previous years? In prior years the past Legislative Positions were given to the Board...board and staff worked on revising. View 2007 Legislative Positions HERE. Requested reason for omitted legislative positions.
  • Schwartz - Staff recommendation. Not trying to tell the Board its position. Sex Education - directly in conflict with legislative position on curriculum mandates. Student Attendance - didn't reflect any interest in Annapolis. Board may want to consider other options. Litigation Matters - Ditto. Recall Charles County Elected Officials - not an issue any more.
  • Pedersen - Attendance issues. 11 unexcused absences = no driving permit. State legislation
  • Schwartz - If topic not addressed in this paper, it can be addressed when it becomes an issue and Board can take a position at that time.
  • Shah - Pupil transportation and seat belts
  • Schwartz - school buses designed differently. Seat belts have NOT shown increased safety on school buses
  • Bailey - proposes legislation for retire/rehire
  • Schwartz - already in the package
  • Bailey - proposes restructure of school construction formula for funds. Change to 70% enrollment growth; 20% renovation; 10% enrollment
  • Schwartz - enrollment decreased in most counties. Legislation won't have support because of that. Current formula intent was to remove the politics.
  • Pedersen - Aging School Program
  • Barrett - funds for aging schools - fields, carpets, floors, etc

*Motion by Bailey, seconded by Cook to request staff propose legislative recommendations on school construction

  • Pedersen - future growth indicates need for change in formula
  • Bailey - proposes NCLB certification requirement needs a broader range
  • Hettel - State Board already has a Task committee looking into this. Not a legislative matter
  • Abell - requests the board review the Communication Goal passed in May 05 to ensure we are on target
  • Abell - requests the board review the Board Benchmarks passed in October 05 to ensure progress or changes the new board would like to implement
  • Abell - Policy 8000 is outdated and needs to be revised


Monday, November 12, 2007

Spellings Pushes on Graduation Figures

If Congress doesn't get the job done, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings says she'll consider using her authority to require states to report high school graduation rates in a more uniform and accurate way.

"I think we need some truth in advertising," Spellings said in an interview, referring to the hodgepodge of ways states now report graduation data.

Read more HERE.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 11/13/07

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, November 13th.
Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesday at 9:00 am and Sunday at 2:00 pm.

3:30 - Executive Session
4:30 - Recognition
5:30 - Board Meeting begins
6:30 - Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)

The remainder of the meeting immediately follows Public Forum

To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit Board Docs.

Reports include:

  • Superintendent -
  • Board Members -
  • EACC -
  • Student Board Member -
  • Deputy Superintendent - Student Service; School Psychologists
  • Instruction Report - Gifted Education: Addition of courses for 08/09
  • Supporting Services Report - CIP Update; Schematics New High School
  • Finance Report - Audit Report; Bridge to Excellence Funding

Action Items:

  • Personnel

New Business:

  • Legislative Issues

Friday, November 09, 2007

AP Q's & A's

Below are two questions posed in another thread concerning AP classes and staff responses.
Are all AP teachers certified by College Board?
There is no AP teacher certification. However, all CCPS teachers have completed the audit with success with very few exceptions. Those few are still under review. They were submitted on time; however, the College Board hires reviewers such as college professors who are not always prompt in completing their review duties. For example, schools submitted that exact same syllabus for a course; some of the schools were authorized immediately, some are still waiting. Once the submitted syllabus is approved the teacher is authorized to teach the course. CCPS also ask all teachers to attend a College Board endorsed week-long summer institute for their course before they teach the class. There are a few exceptions at times, such as when a teacher is hired after the school year begins or has a conflict with training dates in the summer. In those cases, we try to find workshops during the year to support the teacher, provide support through the content specialist and other country AP teachers, and send the teacher to a summer training the next year.
What are the AP audit criteria?
The criteria are determined by the College Board and vary by AP Course. In general, the criteria included the AP syllabus containing information on what will be taught in the course, how the course is organized (thematic, chronological, etc), the skills the course addresses, assignments, required readings, essays, etc, the textbook used, instructional materials used beyond the textbook, etc. The syllabus must show “clear and explicit evidence that fully satisfies” each course’s requirements.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New High School 2011

CORRECTION...NEXT MEETING IS TUESDAY 11/13. Got a little ahead of myself.

The schematic design for the new high school will be presented the board and discussed at the next meeting (12/11/07). Due to the size of this document, it cannot be placed on BoardDocs. I have my one hard copy available for the public to view. I would love for members of the general public, businesses, organizations (especially arts related) to take a look at these and provide me with feedback and/or questions you would like posed. Please contact me via email and we can arrange a time for you to come by (LaPlata) and look through these documents.

LaPlata High School Memorial Fund

A memorial fund has been started to assist the victims families with expenses. If you feel so inclined, please make checks payable Lifestream and in the memo field write LPHS Accident Victims Fund. Please mail to the below address...

LPHS Accident Victims Fund
5105 Leonardtown Road
Waldorf MD 20601

LaPlata Plans Candlelight Vigil for Students

La Plata High School plans to hold a candlelight vigil Friday, Nov. 9, in honor and in memory of four students who died Tuesday evening in an automobile accident on Oliver Shop Road in Dentsville.
A student memorial committee is planning the vigil, which will be held between 5-5:30 p.m. in front of the school at the memorial garden. Following the vigil, La Plata will host its last football game of the season. Players plan to wear black armbands and a moment of silence will be held in remembrance of the four young men.
The four students, Jonathan Chapman, 16, of La Plata, Tavonne Alston, 16, of La Plata, Dionnte Swinson, 15, of La Plata, and Donte Segar, 15, of Hughesville, died from injuries they sustained in the accident. A fifth teen, Markus Allen, 17, of La Plata, was injured in the accident and remains at Prince George's Hospital Center, where he is expected to recover.
An emergency crisis team, composed of psychologists, counselors and pupil personnel workers, were at La Plata on Thursday when students returned to school. The media center was available for students to meet with professionals and members of the team went to each of the young men's classes to speak with students.
After-school activities, with the exception of sports, were cancelled Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Notes from BOE/CSM Meeting, 11/6/07

The televised meeting will be replayed on Channel 96 on Wednesday, 11/7 at 9:00 am and Sunday,11/11 at 2:00 pm for your viewing enjoyment :)

The below notes are my personal notes and are not intended to be all-inclusive or official minutes for the Board of Education meetings and are provided as a request from my supporters and the general public in a personal effort to be more transparent. Although I have diligently tried to make these notes as unbiased and accurate as possible, I am only human and do make mistakes. Please follow-up for official minutes upon approval. For copies of printed reports presented visit Board Docs.

Teacher Preperation Program (Keith Hettel, CCPS)

  • See handouts
  • most of -our out-of-state teachers come from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and upper New York
  • Reasons for teacher turnover...cost of living, new school and growth, retirement bubble
  • Number of teachers needed per each new school...Elem = 30, Middle = 60, High = 130-150
  • Mathematics is our most critical area because change for more money, competition with other systems, stress of testing
  • Most teacher graduates come from Towson for in-state
  • 05/06 school year - 54.1% new hires were first year teachers. OUt of that 17.9% were from MD and 56.2% were from out-of-state
  • Wise - suggests tuition waiver in exchange for 2-3 years teaching in state
  • Tim Keating (CSM) - expects this to be proposed at state level within the next year
  • Brad Gottfried (CSM) - Suggests MSDE provide guidelines/policy for retiring professionhals to become teachers. Expand current program.

Joint Efforts -Articulation Agreement (Judy Estep, CCPS - Tim Keating, CSM)

  • See handouts
  • English College Prep courses given senior year as opposed to college remedial
  • Science - Fair judges, STEM grades 3-12 learning modules (partnership CSM/CCPS/NSWC)
  • Annual planning CSM/CCPS
  • Math Articulation agreement in process for Finite Program. College credit to be given. Taught in high school by CCPS teacher/CSM professor.
  • 5 CSM teaching students "assist" 3 days a week at Diggs
  • Gottfried - Suggest a program he would like to start where all CCPS 5th grade students would tour CSM for a day and discuss opportunities and careers to promote students to continue on for a higher education.

Scholarships (Tim Keating, CSM)

  • Energetic Technology Center Grant - STEM students 2 yrs @ CSM + 4 yr college
  • Grant Proposal STEM - National Science Foundation
  • Grant Proposal - Community Based Job Training

CSM Profile (Bill Comey, CSM)

  • See handouts
  • Average age is 26, 66% women, 64% white,48% transfer, 56% atend day.
  • Most popular degress: General Studies, Nursing, Accounting, Business Administration
  • SAT Discussion pros/cons. CSM is open enrollment...does NOT require SAT scores for admission but DOES use SAT's when awarding some scholarships.
  • Stats given, by high school, for number of students attending CSM

Dual/Concurrent Enrollment (Bill Comey, CSM)

  • Previously called Early Admission
  • Dual enrollment = enrolled in college & receives credit for high school and college
  • Concurrent enrollment = enrolled in college and receives college credit ONLY.
  • Dual = 50% off tuition and additional scholarship assistance can be offered
  • Placement tests required only for subject taking
  • Abell - Questioned whether Charles County accepts dual enrollment credits.
  • Estep - Not at this discussions with CSM.
  • Abell - St. Mary's allows

Monday, November 05, 2007

Student Suspensions Decrease

Suspensions in Charles County Public Schools decreased during the 2006-07 school year, according to a recent report sent to the Maryland State Department of Education. Suspensions dropped slightly from 5,866 in the 2005-06 school year to 5,662 despite an increase in student population and the opening of a new school.

Charles County Public Schools continues to implement programs to help promote positive behavior and alternatives to out-of-school suspensions. Keith Grier, director of student services, said the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program, which was introduced in 1999, has grown in the county and is working. PBIS is a voluntary state program that helps schools create better school climates, spend less time on discipline and more time on teaching and learning. There are 30 Charles County schools participating in the program, and many of them have been awarded as Exemplar by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Additionally, Grier said some schools are using a suspension diversion program coordinated through the Department of Juvenile Justice to allow students found in violation of less serious rules to work at the school over the weekend rather than be suspended. One example is student assistance in cleaning stadiums after football games. Additionally, several high schools have Saturday detention, also in lieu of suspension. Many schools use in-school suspension to allow a student to remain in school, away from the classroom, but still completing assigned work for the day. Grier said the school system is also looking at a secondary school mediation program as another intervention to reduce suspensions and time out of school.

Charles County continues to broaden its alternative programs, primarily at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center. These programs are for students whose behavior makes it difficult for them to fit into or remain in school-based classrooms. The Stethem Center staff is piloting a prevention program at Theodore Davis, Matthew Henson and John Hanson middle schools to help students change disruptive habits so they can avoid behavior that leads to suspension.

"The goal is not to reduce suspensions, but to use data to put in place programs that help students change behaviors that lead to suspension," said Deputy Superintendent Ronald Cunningham. He added that the Student Code of Conduct is distributed at the beginning of the year to all students and parents with the expectation that they will read it and re-enforce the rules at home. Some offenses, Cunningham said, will always result in suspension, such as possession of weapon or illegal drugs or participating in gang activity at school.

Charles County Public Schools is posting suspension data as part of its ongoing efforts to address and monitor suspension rates in schools. Information posted on the website includes 2005-06 and 2006-07 end-of-year suspension figures by category as well as category definitions. The reports are also located at

Additional suspension information prior to 2006-07 is reported by the Maryland State Department of Education at:

Maryland State Teacher Association

Maryland State Teachers Association made their first video to share publicly and I LOVE it.

View a related article in the Baltimore Sun HERE.

Achievement by Design

In the American School Board Journal...

Buildings and classrooms play a role in how students learn but while amenities are nice, don't let the frills overshadow your district's instructional goals.

Read more HERE.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

CSM Board & Board of Education Meets, 11/6/07

The Charles County Board of Education and the College of Southern Maryland Board of Trustees are meeting Nov. 6, 5-7 p.m., at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The meeting will be aired live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.

The two boards attempt to meet annually to discuss topics of mutual interest for students, teachers and the community. Agenda items include teacher preparation courses, joint efforts, math and English initiatives, Energetics Technology Center grants, grant proposals for scholarships and Department of Labor community-based job training programs.

Additionally, board members will receive a profile of College of Southern Maryland students from Charles County, dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities and newer academic career programs.

A complete agenda can be found on the school system website, at, under the BoardDocs link.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)

According to CCPS...

Second and fifth grade students in CCPS will take the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) during the week of November 13th. This test will be used as one of several screening tools to identify students in need of gifted education services for the 2008-2009 school year and to assist classroom teachers in making instructional decisions for their students this school year.

CogAT is a group-administered test which measures students' reasoning and problem-solving abilities. These abilities are assessed on three sub tests using words (verbal sub test), numerical concepts (quantitative sub test) and spatial/figural drawings (nonverbal sub test). Each sub test takes about 45 minutes.

The CogAT is used nationally, as well as by several Maryland counties, as a tool in the identification of academically gifted students. It has been found to be especially helpful in finding students who may not show up on measures of academic achievement alone. In addition, the CogAT provides instructional information for classroom teachers. Teachers can review their students' test results to plan instruction that meets the needs of the specific types of learners in their class.

A parent report created by Riverside Publishers will be sent home for each student who takes to CogAT. The report will provide a score for each sub test, a composite score, and information about your child's results.

If you have any questions, please contact the gifted education resource teacher at your child's school.
In addition, I found this link helpful and informational Riverside Publishing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007




The Maryland State Board of Education today voted to maintain the High School Assessment program as a graduation requirement for the class of 2009. The Board also approved the additional measure of a senior project for those students for whom passing the HSAs has proven difficult even after remediation.

The HSA program was reaffirmed by an 8-4 vote. Today’s action followed many months of Board debate, public hearings, and detailed presentations.

“The State Board today, after deliberating for an extended period of time, made the difficult and important decision to continue Maryland’s educational progress,” said State Board President Dunbar Brooks. “The HSA program begins to put us on the path toward where we need to be. It is not a panacea.”

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, who has championed improved educational standards since taking office in 1991, said that the State Board has taken a strong stand for Maryland children.

“It is never easy to raise standards, but the State Board has made a courageous decision,” Dr. Grasmick said. “Our students will rise to the occasion.”

Maryland’s High School Assessments are four end-of-course exams—one each in algebra/data analysis, biology, government, and English—that all students must take and pass in order to graduate, beginning with the class of 2009 (this year’s juniors). The HSA exams are based on the Maryland High School Core Learning Goals, incorporated into the state’s public school curricula in the 1990s. The freshman and sophomore-level tests were developed by Maryland teachers.

Students take each assessment as they complete the related course. Passing the tests is one of several high school graduation requirements, which also include passing each course, earning state-specific credits, completing service-learning requirements, and fulfilling attendance requirements.

Maryland students will have as many as five times per year to take the exam. Students having difficulty will be provided with online tools and other targeted assistance to strengthen their ability to pass each exam.

The State Board today amended the original HSA regulation to include the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation for those students who have been unable to pass the test despite remediation. Dr. Grasmick proposed the Bridge Plan in August, noting that test data had indicated some students were having difficulty passing the exams despite an understanding of the material.

The Bridge Plan grew out of the work of two panels—the Task Force on Comparable Testing Methods for the Maryland High School Assessment and the Task Force for Review of High School Assessment Options. The plan also reflects research into similar alternatives to passing State assessments currently in place in numerous states across the country.

Under the Bridge Plan, students who have passed all of their other requirements could pass the HSA by completing a rigorous Academic Validation project. State-developed project modules would address the tested content areas where a student has demonstrated a deficiency. For example, a student unable to pass the biology assessment might develop a project delving into the structure and function of molecules, or the inheritance of traits. Projects would be administered locally, but state managed and assessed to assure consistency and difficulty level.

Nearly half the states have instituted some form of graduation assessment, and more than 60 percent of all high school students in the nation must past a series of exams in order to graduate.

For further information about the HSA Program, please go to MSDE’s dedicated HSA site (

APPROVED: A Bible Textbook??

No I didn't suggest it and it's not in Charles County...a little further south in Alabama :)

Alabama has became the first state in the Union to approve a textbook for a course about the Bible in its public schools, and its surprisingly uncontroversial decision may prove to be a model for others.

Read more HERE.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Maryland Public Information Act Request

During my campaign, I vowed to be open and transparent as a Board member. With that in mind and in attempt to squelch some of the rumors, yes I did file a Maryland Public Information Request for the AP scores broken down by school and subject. To view a copy of what I filed, click HERE.

I filed this request because I truely believe that as a Board member, I am suppose to be making data-driven decisions about our system and I don't see how it is possible without the data. How can we as a Board correct any deficiencies or redirect staff and resources if we don't have ample data to analyze?

In addition, I believe this information should be available to the public because it is a PUBLIC school system. You are the citizens of this county and as citizens you pay for the schools and staff and we ALL (Board members & staff) are accountable to YOU!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Building the Perfect School

As school design moves into the 21st century, architects and planners look at trends that are taking hold in this months American School Board Journal.

Read more HERE.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Looking for Something to Do?

How about catch a play?

  1. Maurice J. McDonough High School starts the action with their rendition of "Zombie Prom," which begins on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. The show will continue through the weekend, at the same times, and will end Oct. 28 with a matinee showing at 2 p.m. To order tickets, call 301-609-8198 and reserve a spot for the play. Adults enter for $10, students and seniors for $8, and thespians for $7.
  2. La Plata High School takes a trip down the rabbit hole to show their magical journey to "Alice in Wonderland." La Plata students start acting on Nov 1. at 7:30 p.m., and will continue through Saturday evening Nov 3., also at 7:30 p.m. Allow the actors and actresses to take you through their story for $8 for adults, $5 for students, and $3 for children under five.
  3. North Point High School tries their luck against the headless horseman in "Sleepy Hollow." Their festive performance starts on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. and will run Nov. 9 -10, also at 7 p.m. Adults can experience the tale of Ichabod Crane for $8, and students and seniors for $5.
  4. Thomas Stone High School starts its play Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m., with follow up performances on Nov 9-10, also at 7:30 p.m. "The Crucible," fits right in with this time of year featuring the plot surrounding 17th century Salem witchery. Thomas Stone is selling tickets to the performance for $7 per adult, and $5 per student or senior.
  5. Westlake High School hosts performances of "The Miracle Worker." The public is invited to share an evening with the Westlake performers from Nov. 15  Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. Adult tickets are $7, student and senior tickets are $5, and thespian tickets are $4.
  6. Henry E. Lackey High School wraps up the season with a version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The classic story, written by William Shakespeare, will be acted out Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., and with an afternoon showing Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, and $6 for thespians.

    To catch a sneak peak of any of the six high school plays tune in to Comcast channel 96 or log on to for the on-air schedule.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Teacher Salaries

MSDE Released their Annual Report on Professional Salary Schedules in Maryland Public Schools last week.

Another disappointment...Charles County starting teacher salary has slipped from 3rd in the state to 5th in the state.

  1. Montgomery = $44,200
  2. Prince George's = $43,481
  3. Calvert = $42,650
  4. Howard = $42,407
  5. Charles = $42,245

Charles County ranks 3rd for Superintendent salaries

  1. Baltimore County = $278,520
  2. Prince George's= $273,000
  3. Charles = $249,900

Charles County ranks 3rd for Deputy Superintendent

  1. Howard = $193,856
  2. Montgomery = $192,895
  3. Charles = $188,320

Charles County ranks 1st in the state Assistant Area Superintendent Salaries

  1. Charles = $173,340
  2. Prince George's = $167,222
  3. Montgomery = $154,879

Charles County ranks 9th for Principal salaries and 11th for Vice Principals.

To view the entire report, click

Living Water

This does not involve education directly but it does involve a number of our children and students in Charles County. Please consider volunteering for this most worth while cause.

Did you know there are families in Charles County without running water?

Did you know there are families in Charles County without a septic system or a toilet?

Living Water is a new program started by New Life Church to help provide the basic necessities to families in our community. The first informational meeting will take place at New Life Church (White Plains) on Tuesday, October 30th at 6:30 pm. Everyone welcome!

In particular we are looking for trades people to assist in providing the less fortunate with running water into their home. This may include digging a well, building a kitchen/bathroom onto a home, and/or installing a septic system. Carpenters, Drywall installers, Painters, Roofers, Septic Tank Installer, Well Drillers, Plumbers, Electricians, Tile Layers, Laborers

Please join us for the informational meeting no matter your skill level. Monetary donations also accepted.

For more information contact Jennifer Abell at