Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The Board of Education of Charles County is soliciting public input on its meeting times including starting times, public forum and recognition ceremonies. Please visit the Charles County Public Schools' homepage to take a brief electronic survey (look in the right hand column). Only one submission per computer will be accepted. The deadline for survey submissions is Feb. 16

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pelosi Reaches Out to Blogging Community

From an article in the Washington Post... looks like blogging is here for political officials.

Shortly after her swearing-in as the first female House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi took time to field questions from a few dozen Internet bloggers on a conference call that was off limits to mainstream media.

Last week, Pelosi's aides arranged for bloggers to question two Democratic House leaders on another conference call shortly before President Bush's State of the Union speech.

Pelosi also hired a full-time staff member this month dedicated to blogger outreach, and is making plans to launch a blog of her own. The day she was sworn in, bloggers were given special accommodations at the Capitol to cover the event, and fed lunch.

Click here for the complete article.

Studies Find Benefits to Advanced Placement Courses

According to an article in the Washington Post my Jay Mathews...Good Scores on AP Exams Correlate With Better College Grades and Graduation Rates, Data on Texas Students Show

Read the complete article here.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mathmatics Curriculum Focal Points - Back to Basics!

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has released Curriculum Focal Points, which identifies three important mathematical topics at each level, prekindergarten through grade 8. The publication is intended to bring more coherence to the very diverse mathematics curricula currently in use. It provides a framework for states and districts to design more focused curricular expectations and assessments for pre-K–grade 8 mathematics curriculum development.

State standards often describe specific learning expectations by grade. In some cases there are close to 100 expectations per grade, with different expectations from state to state. The focal points are intended as a first step toward a national discussion on how to bring consistency and coherence to the mathematics curricula used in the United States. At each grade level, prekindergarten through grade 8, the Curriculum Focal Points identify three topics, described as “cohesive clusters of related knowledge, skills, and concepts,” which form the necessary foundation for understanding concepts in higher-level mathematics.

Curriculum Focal Points for Prekindergarten through Grade 8 Mathematics is available for PDF download as a full document here: Focal Points

Saturday, January 27, 2007

New Research on Vocabulary and Learning

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has announced new research that helps document the connection between standards-based vocabulary instruction and future academic achievement.

View the full report: Building Academic Vocabulary Report

Friday, January 26, 2007

Who is Gifted?

According to the Washington Post, school systems differ in how they determine whether a student is gifted or highly gifted. Here is the selection criteria of the three largest systems in the area:

Montgomery County

  • Screens all students in grade 2, using two intelligence tests, grades and surveys of parents, teachers and staff members.
  • About 40 percent of all students are identified as gifted; about 4 percent study in highly gifted centers.

Fairfax County

  • Screens all students in grade 2, using two intelligence tests and teacher appraisals.
  • Highly gifted centers serve about 12 percent of students. A broader gifted program serves about 36 percent of students.

Prince George's County

  • Screens all students in grades 1 and 3, using the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test. Parents and teachers may nominate students at any grade level.
  • Between 8 and 9 percent of students are identified as gifted.

Although Charles County wasn't detailed in the report, CCPS information is given below.
Charles County Public Schools use the Treffinger Service Delivery Model for gifted services. This model does not include a gifted identification procedure. However, it does provide services for top academic students which are provided at the school level based on student need. At the elementary and middle school levels, gifted education resource teachers work vcollaboratively with classroom teachers to provide appropriate experiences for their students. The service delivery model has four levels of service: ALL - all students receive the gifted initiatives and information, MANY - students receive services associated with various enrichment and special interest groups, SOME - students are included who can learn at a faster pace and need some adjustments to the curriculum to meet their full potential, and FEW - students need direct support from the gifted staff.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bush Proposes Adding Private School Vouchers to 'No Child' Law

In the Washington Post today...

The Bush administration yesterday unveiled an education plan that would allow poor students at chronically failing public schools to use federal vouchers to attend private and religious schools, angering Democrats who vowed to fight the measure.

The private school vouchers, which on average would be worth $4,000, were among a series of proposals presented yesterday that President Bush hopes will be included in the reauthorization of his signature education initiative, No Child Left Behind.

Click here for the complete article.

Teachers Tackle Their Own Extra Credit

In an article in the Washington Post National Certification Pays Off With Stipend And Stamp of Approval

...the process for national board certification is uniform across the country. Applications can take up to 400 hours to complete. Applicants must finish in-depth projects, assemble a portfolio that includes video of themselves teaching and take an online test. Fewer than half of applicants earn certification the first year they apply. The process aims to push teachers to adapt lessons for each child, analyze why certain methods work and reach out to colleagues and the families of students.
Click on the link above for the complete article.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EACC: Rethink Sex Ed Stance

In an article in the Maryland Independent today...

The local teachers union has asked the newly elected Charles County school board to reconsider the previous board’s position on sex education.

The previous board supported, in a list of positions supplied to local lawmakers, restricting instructors from discussing sexual lifestyles or conducting demonstration activities with students, such as how to put on a condom. In addition, the board supported sex education programs incorporating abstinence as the primary emphasis.

Clarification before the posts start rolling in...
The current sex-education classes fall into two categories: mandatory sex ed sections in the health curriculum and then there are the elective classes. Currently both are “abstinence based” not “abstinence only”. Meaning abstinence is taught as the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and STD’s. Duh. Other methods are taught also. The legislation the board currently supports (see below) would prevent the instructors from having demonstrations on how to actually put on a condom (using an inanimate model, of course)and from discussing alternative lifestyle choices. The EACC is proposing that we change the legislation to make the elective courses (which are available to 11th and 12th graders, I think) cover these topics as well.

The Board supports sex education programs incorporating abstinence as the primary emphasis. In addition, the Board supports legislation restricting instructors from discussing sexual lifestyles (i.e., bisexuality, homosexuality, etc.) and demonstration activities (i.e., how to put on a condom). The Board supports legislation requiring opt-in parental consent for sex education, and is opposed to an opt-out requirement. Implementing an opt-in policy would require a parent to be more informed and want their child to attend the class, instead of attendance by default.

Notes from Board Work Session, 1/22/07

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 BoardDocs.

Public Forum

  • Bill Fisher - EACC supports the Superintendent’s Budget Proposal

  • Balides - Total Budget = $280M. Total Wages and Benefits = $221M (Wages = 65.2%; Benefits = 13.8%). Total Fixed and Semi Fixed Costs = $47M (16.8%). Total Variable Costs = $12M (4.3%).
  • Richmond - Concerned with what is happening in Annapolis and possible reductions in funding by the state or county.

*Consensus - Wade requested the boards consensus on the accepting the budget as a action item at the February meeting.

Board of Education Meeting Time
  • Wise - pros vs. cons of moving the time. Residents working out-of-town cannot make a 1:00 meeting but staff is tasked greater by late meetings. Referred to Howard County as a possible sample.
  • Carrington - Likes the sample of Howard County which moves public forum and recognition to after 6:00pm.
  • Abell - Action items would also need to be moved until after public forum to allow the public to comment on the action items prior to a Board vote.
  • Cook - Would like to poll the public.
  • Carrington - agreed with Cook
  • Abell - Requested staff input on effectiveness and possibility of a survey.
  • O’Malley-Simpson - Electronic survey could easily be implemented via the web-page and email messaging. In addition, we could post in the newspaper and use the new telephone messaging.
  • Cunningham - Parent Advisory Committee meeting is soon. Poll the members.
  • Carrington - Could people vote more than once; reliability.
  • O’Malley-Simpson - Yes, they could.

* Vote - Abell motioned and seconded by Cook to perform electronic surveys, implement telephone messaging, post in the paper, and poll the committee in regards to changing the meeting time and results reviewed at the next work session.

Board Agenda Items
  • Wade - requested Board members to review the current agenda and determine if any can be deleted.
  • Wise - questions why Board Member Updates and Correspondence is on the agenda.
  • Abell - Not all board members can attend all events and this is the agenda item where that discussion can take place. In addition, members can report on the various committees such as MABE.
  • Overall board discussion and consensus to leave it on.
  • Wade - suggests placing a limit on the number of future agenda items to be brought up by a Board member
  • Pedersen - how many can one meeting handle?
  • Bailey - 2-3 is reasonable but it depends on the topic matter. Wants to encourage fellow members to talk to each other and garner support prior to bringing the item up in public meeting.
  • Wise - Thinks it is poor judgment to add a future agenda item up that was just discussed at public forum.
  • Carrington - Before bringing up future agenda items, members should ask what they will do with the information and if it is for the betterment of the students. Agrees you should know an item is going to pass prior to bringin it up in public.
  • Wade - suggests we have Kitty Blumsack from MABE come in and do a have day training and help us prioritize our future agenda items.

Additional Board time
  • Wade - suggests the Board use additional time on meeting days for tours of schools.
    Overall Board discussion on lengthiness of the day, disturbing the learning environment by such a large group showing up, need to see the activities in the schools, possibility of Board “field trips“ in the future.
  • Carrington - requested the Independent reporter place more positive events in the paper
  • Wise - Requests principals forward dates and times of events
  • Wade - Thinks we should table his suggestion and come back to it at a later date.

Board Emails
  • Wade - Board members should not be responding to emails. Ms. Stubblefield will respond to emails and forward to appropriate staff.
  • Cunningham - discussed staff procedures for dealing with concerns. Try to get it back in the chain of command; teacher, principal, etc.
  • Wade - Individual board members or not to respond to complaints.
  • Cook - requested clarification on procedure.

Board Member Requests
  • Richmond - individual board member requests of staff goes through Mr. Richmond/Mr. Wade first. Members are not to email staff directly for information, they are his employees.

  • Schwartz - Has a copy of the MD School Law Desk book in his office. A member had requested a copy. Does everyone want one? $50 - $60 each
  • Abell - advised she was the member that requested a copy of the book back in October. She received correspondence from MABE stating all members should have one. Due to the cost she would rather review the copy Schwartz has prior to purchasing another copy.
  • Richmond - First meeting of new high school committee will meet tomorrow from 12:00 - 2:00 for lunch and BOE members are invited to attend. Has already met with people regarding technology and performing arts.
  • Richmond - Meeting with CISCO on Thursday. Dinner in the evening at Casey Jones. BOE members are invited to attend.
  • Wade - Joint CCBOE and Commissioners Retreat tentatively scheduled for March 20th and 21st.
  • Wade - Minutes are not to be verbatim but a summary of what was said.
    School Contract
  • Wineland - presented report on the bids received for the construction of the Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School. Gave Superintendents recommendations.

*Vote - Bailey made a motion seconded by Abell to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation and award the contract to Hess, the lowest bidder.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Thieves of Baghdad - Book Signing & Talk

The College of Southern Maryland and the Southern Maryland Womens League are co-hosting a book talk and signing for Col. Matthew Bogdanos author of Thieves of Baghdad. The book is the Col.'s account of his team's investigation into the 2003 looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and the subsequent recovery of over 3,000 of the world's oldest and most precious artifacts.

7:00 PM
CSM, LaPlata
Center for Business & Industry, BI113
Col. Bogdanos has generously offered to waive his speaking fee which is why we are able to offer this talk FREE of admission. The copies of the book will be available for purchase with all proceeds going directly to the Iraq Museum; Col. Bogdanos does not receive any royalties.

This is a wonderful opportunity for high school students taking AP History and Art History courses.

Separate But Superior?

This report, found in the December issue of Queue, Inc, reviews the issues and data on single-sex education. The findings...according to the report, there is no evidence to support girls-only and boys-only schools and classes as a means to remedy a variety of educational problems. Have opposing information? Please share and let me here what you think.

The report is available here: Separate But Superior?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

U.S. Students & Adults vs. Other Countries

How do we compare? In an article in Queue, Inc. they tackle that very question.

Based on the results of recent international assessments, measures of students’ and adults’ skills and abilities in reading, mathematics, and science present a mixed picture. U.S. students perform relatively well in reading literacy compared with their peers around the world, including those in highly industrialized countries.

In addition, U.S. students perform relatively well in mathematics at the lower grades compared to their peers in other countries—though the data suggest that their performance may not be keeping pace with that of their peers—and are showing improvement in the middle school years.

However, when older U.S. students are asked to apply what they have learned in mathematics, they demonstrate less ability than most of their peers in other highly industrialized countries.

Data on the literacy and numeracy skills of U.S. adults in comparison with their peers from other countries are fairly limited, but suggest that the skills of U.S. adults do not compare favorably (based on ALL data).

The full report is here: Untied States vs. Other Countries

Friday, January 19, 2007

School Choice - Good or Bad

According to a report by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), the percentage of students enrolled in their assigned public school decreased from 80 percent to 74 percent between 1993 and 2003, while this decrease was nearly offset by an increase in chosen public school enrollment from 11 to 15 percent between 1993 and 2003.

During this same time period, enrollment in church-related private schools remained stable at 8 percent and enrollment in non church-related private schools increased from 1.6 to 2.4 percent.

To view the report: NCES

Chess Grants for Schools

Yes! Grants are available from the Maryland State Department of Education to support existing or new chess programs Maryland schools. Grants of up to $10,000 a year per program may be awarded! Proposals are due by February 15th!

For more information about the Chess in Maryland Schools program or to apply for one of the grants, call 410-767-0034 or go to MSDE.

REMINDER - Board Meeting on Monday, January 22

On Monday January 22nd there will be a Public Hearing on the Superintendent's FY08 Proposed Budget and a Board Work Session from 6-8 pm in the Board room at the Starkey Building. The agenda includes:

  • Budget
  • Board Procedures
  • Approval of Mary Burgess Neal Elementary School Bid

Private School vs. Public School

In the December issue Queue, Inc an article takes on this topic and even challenges the National Center for Education Statistics disputing their study and stating it is flawed.

On July 14, 2006, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a study that compared the performance in reading and math of 4th and 8th graders attending private and public schools. The study had been undertaken at the request of the NCES by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Using information from a national sample of public and private school students collected in 2003 as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), ETS compared the test scores of public school students with those of students in all private schools, taken together. Separately, it compared student performance in public schools with that in Catholic, Lutheran, and evangelical Protestant schools.
But, in fact, the NCES study’s measures of student characteristics are flawed…

Read the complete report at: NCES Private-Public School Study

Thursday, January 18, 2007

March of Dimes WalkAmerica

The March of Dimes WalkAmerica for Charles County will take place in LaPlata on Sunday, April 29, 2007.

The Kick-off for this event is open to the public and will be Thursday, January 25 at the Holiday Inn in Waldorf. Drop by anytime between 6:30 and 9:00 pm to learn more about the March of Dimes and how you can get involved to help save premature babies right here in Southern Maryland.

Already know about the March of Dimes? Register your team at and come out to pick-up your team supplies.

Reading this from Calvert County? The Calvert County WalkAmerica will take place on Solomon’s Island, Sunday, May 6, 2007.

The Kick-off for this event is open to the public and will be Tuesday, February 6 at the Holiday Inn in Solomon’s. Drop by anytime between 6:30 and 9:00 pm to learn more about the March of Dimes and how you can get involved to help save premature babies right here in Southern Maryland.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more information, visit or for Spanish or call your local March of Dimes at 301-934-2235.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

For Teachers, Being 'Highly Qualified' Is a Subjective Matter

According to an article by Michael Alison Chandler in the Washington Post on Saturday, there seems to be some loopholes in the No Child Left Behind Act when it comes to 'highly qualified teachers'.

To overhaul public education, the No Child Left Behind law required a massive expansion of student testing. But it also called for states to ensure that all teachers in core academic subjects are "highly qualified" to help students succeed -- an unprecedented mandate that has delivered less than promised.

The law, which turned five years old this week, has held schools to increasingly higher standards for student achievement. For teachers, however, standards meant to guarantee that they know their subjects are often vague and open to broad interpretation.

For the complete article, click here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Notes From Board Meeting, 1/09/07

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 of Officers

Chair nominations – Wade received 5; Bailey received 2
Chair vote – Wade 7

Vice Chair nominations – Abell 2; Wise 5
Vice Chair Vote – Wise 7

Public Forum

  • Woman spoke in support of new recommendations for the Math curriculum as reported in an article in the Washington Post recently. Need for smaller class sizes and making student moves prior early in the year, not January.
  • Teacher spoke regarding the sex education legislation and the removal of it from the package. Family Life course is elective in 11th and 12th grade and has an opt-in curriculum that is reviewed by the parents. This is different from the sex education received by all students.
  • Woman spoke regarding the parent visitation policy. Not welcoming. Son is disabled. Only correspondence she receives about his progress is via the quarterly report card. He cannot communicate what he has learned. Wants to be more active in his education. Currently has to pay $.15 per page for daily data on progress. Quite expensive. Current policy too restrictive.
  • Substitute Teacher spoke of the It’s Academic, Math Team, and DI not receiving Letters for their competitions. Would like to see this addressed and changed.
Action - Approval of Minutes from 12/12/06
  • Abell motioned to amend minutes as follows. Bailey seconded
  • Student Board Member Update - Mr. Van Woerkom's statements regarding the Freshman Seminar class, teachers teaching effectively, and discussions with Mr. Richmond regarding implementing an IB program and comparing it to AP
  • Budget Update - Mr. Balides statements regarding Food Services being monitored closely however the general funds are in good shape
  • Curriculum Briefing - Ms. Young's statements commending the students for their discipline and respectfulness and her question about the implementation of a similar program (JROTC) at the middle school level. Ms. Stafford's response
  • School Naming - Ms. Abell's comments about Neal having no relation to this particular school or this area of the county. Ms. Abell feels that the Board should consider not naming schools after people. Ms. Young agreed with Abell's statements with the exception that she believes schools should be named after people.

*Vote on amending the minutes

*Vote to approve minutes

Correspondence/Board Member Updates
  • Abell – regarding her email asking fellow Board members to consider the Boards recurring agenda items
Report – EACC
  • Bill Fisher – Congrats to new board members. Last month the main concern was testing. Showed visual of testing schedule. Quite lengthy. Teacher workload. Concerned about technology because a number of schools are still requiring paper as well. Double the work. Martin Luther King’s Birthday breakfast at North Point. Board invited. Discussed legislation proposals for sex education and special education removal of disruptive students from classroom. Just brings us up o speed with new IDEA regulations.
  • Wise – asked if we are currently in compliance and re quested stats on surrounding states.
  • Meg MacDonald - yes we are in compliance but this legislation would update and make better alignment; didn’t have current stats at this time but could will provided in three days.
  • Pedersen – Teachers comments on sex education… were those his personal thoughts or those of your colleagues?
  • Teacher – Hasn’t taught this class for two years but these are his reflections from when he was teaching
  • Pedersen – Any parent complaints when you taught?
  • Teacher – Listed different scenarios of parents requests to refrain from certain aspects of the curriculum.

Report - Student Board Member

  • Andrew VanWoerkem – No CCASC Meeting in January. Preparing for MASC legislative session at North Point on 2/3. Lots of planning and training. All high schools contributing volunteers and support. Invited BOE members to training and sessions.
  • Abell – Loves the icebreakers. What do you need from us?
  • VanWoerkem – Support and attendance.

Report – Superintendent

  • Richmond - Heidelberg Printing Press installation at North Point almost complete.
  • Richmond - New announcement calling and email. System. Still working out the kinks.
  • Richmond - Immunizations. Only 30 suspensions remain.
  • Abell – May the Board have an update in the future regarding your meeting on ¼ to discuss Navy Projects
  • Richmond – Met to discuss the enhanced Math/Science curriculum. Working with delegation, senators and Grasmick. Will give the Board a complete update in the near future
Policy Amendments

  • Schwartz – presented his recommendations.
  • Abell – Referred to her amendments sent to all Board members via email. Asked fellow members to consider.
  • Wise – Wanted clarification on why Abell thought it necessary for Board members to receive a copy. Doesn’t see a need.
  • Abell – History shows that when Board members have been unable to attend meetings and requested to review or receive a copy of the closed session minutes they were denied.
  • Schwartz – Explained and clarified the current procedure. Stated that both his and Abell’s amendments were legal and there is no right or wrong with them.
  • Abell – again asked the Board members to review her revisions and consider them for nest months meeting
Report - CIP

  • Wineland – “Beg-A-Thon” for school funding is coming up with Public Works. Requesting planning approval for new high school and middle school
  • Wineland – Wetland concern with Pinefield site
  • Wineland - Davis on schedule to finish 30 May
  • Wineland - Smallwood Boiler replacement on going
  • Wineland - CCPS Annex 1 & 2 Renovations and Improvements
  • Wineland - Westlake locker renovations
  • Wineland – Eva Turner water main break
  • Abell – Email from parent regarding Article 13-203 requiring all government and public school buildings display a cross bottony flagpole topper on Maryland flagpoles. Noticed the one at Starkey building is missing. Requested all new schools have the cross bottony on the MD flagpole.
  • Carrington – Great job
Report - Curriculum Update – Instructional Technology

  • Estep – Bringing the world to the classroom. LCD projectors. White boards. Digital library resources. Reviewed an interactive tutorial. Response pads & clickers. Can import individual responses into grade book. Data slicing charts. Virtual fireld trips. GPS research done last summer. Google Earth.
  • Wise – Praise. Adequate training for teachers?
  • Abell – Kudos. 50% of all classrooms. Constantly adding more. Report shows grant money but not money spent.
  • Estep – Money comes from technology budget not instruction; will forward totals
  • Cook – Possibility of getting this information to the parents to use at home as reinforcement.
  • Willingness to speak at PTA’s
  • Pedersen – Fantastic. Word is getting home. Her daughter used recently.
  • Richmond – Future update on technology partners from beginning to now.
  • Cook - equitable virtual field trip scheduling
  • Abell – love technology and support of the board
Report – Budget

  • Balides – Technology money mentioned above. In 2003 CCPS took out a loan of $8M for technology that expires in 2010. Annual technology budget is $3M plus $1M at year end if we have the resources for additional hardware.
  • Balides – reviewed report for new board members
  • Balides – Food Service report from weekly update. Breakfast & lunch prices due to increase by .10 beginning in February
  • Abell – Does the money deficit take into account the possible additional funds we might see from the state in response to Mr. Richmond’s letter to Grasmick to re-evaluate?
  • Balides – Overall reduction in free & reduced meals. Some additional funds are expected but not enough to cover the deficit. Prices will again have to be raised for the 2007-2008 school year

Action - Personnel* Vote to accept staff recommendations

Unfinished Business

  • Abell – Keys for Employees Program update (11/27/06)
  • Abell – Request for a sample Fitness Report Card (10/10/06, 12/12/06)
  • Abell – Safe Haven Posters and program (1/2005, 10/10/06)
  • Abell – Possibility of broadcasting audio tapes of meetings (10/10/06,11/14/06)
  • Abell – update on the committee for the new high school vision (11/14/06, 12/12/06)
  • Abell – Schedule meeting with Chamber of Commerce and EDC (9/19/06, 11/14/06, 12/12/06)
  • Abell - Number of violent offenders in schools (11/14/06, 12/12/06)
  • Abell – Board meeting to determine goals and objectives (12/12/06)

New Business & Future Agenda Items

  • Pedersen – Would like the board to have a discussion on changing the board meeting time
  • Carrington – We’ll never satisfy everyone.
  • Abell – supports the move and always has
  • Wise – need to discuss with staff and public before moving. Future discussion at work session
  • Abell – Board Retreat
  • Abell – Possibility of English college classes counting as senior year of English high school credit
  • Cunningham – will provide report in weekly update
  • Abell – future discussion on affordable housing alternatives for teachers
  • Abell – future discussion on merit pay
  • Abell – Furture discussion on alternative funding methods for school construction
  • Abell – consider public forum requests to review parent visitation policy
  • Abell – consider public forum request regarding competition letters
  • Wade – asked for direction from the Board regarding the list of items
  • Bailey – two ways to look it. One the chair could decide yes or no to place the items on the agenda or two the chair could ask for a board consensus.
  • Cook – would like to hold off on these issues until the board discusses its goals and mission in a work session
  • Pedersen – Concur with Cook. Doesn’t want to be led by the veteran members
  • Wise – Concur with Wise and Pedersen
  • Wade – wants the Boar to work on goals collaboratively in work session. Everyone will put in their goals for him to combine and then we will prioritize.
  • Abell – Dejavue! Doesn’t have a problem with this with one stipulation. All individual goals submitted must have the Board members name on it that is submitting the idea and the combined list cannot be titled Board Goals. :)
Superintendent Proposed Budget for 2008
See Report on Board Docs

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Government Lesson for the Day

A new an interesting fact I learned today...

According to Maryland Article 13-203 a flag staff displaying a Maryland flag must also have a cross bottony as a topper. This regulation applies to all government and public schools in the state of Maryland.
To learn more about the regulation click here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ten Big Effects of the No Child Left Behind Act on Public Schools

This short report describes ten major effects of the No Child Left Behind Act based on CEP's four year study of the implementation of NCLB at the federal, state, and local level.

  1. State and district officials report that student achievement on state tests is rising, which is a cause for optimism.
  2. Schools are spending more time on reading and math, sometimes at the expense opf subjects not tested.
  3. Schools are paying much more attention to the alignment of curriculum and instruction and are analyzing test score data much more closely.
  4. Low-performing schools are undergoing makeovers rather than the most radical kinds of restructuring.
  5. Schools and teachers have made considerable progress in demonstrating that teachers meet the law's acadmic qualifications - but many educators are skeptical this will really improve the quality of teaching.
  6. Students are taking a lot more tests.
  7. Schools are paying much more attention to achievement gaps and the learning needs of particular groups of students.
  8. The percentage od schools on state "needs improvement" lists has been steady but is not growing.
  9. The federal government is playing a bigger role in education.
  10. NCLB requirements have meant that state governments and school districts also have expanded roles in school operations, but often without adequate federal funds to carry out their duties.

The complete report is available here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Schools Seek and Find 'Gifted' Students

Montgomery pursues an agressive strategy.
The below excerpt was taken from an article by Daniel de Vise in the Washington Post.

The bumper crop of gifted children at Bannockburn is a result not of some exclusive magnet program but of Montgomery County's aggressive policy on identifying academic talent. The county screens every second-grader for extraordinary ability. In most other school systems, it's left to parents or teachers to initiate the process. Also, Montgomery's criteria for "giftedness" are unusually broad, covering not just intelligence data but also classroom performance and the impressions of teachers and parents.
To read the complete article

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004

The following excerpt was taken from an article by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).
The new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 regulations contain changes in several important areas, including methods to identify students with learning disabilities, early intervening services, highly qualified teachers, discipline, and meeting accessibility standards.
CEC is pleased to report that many of its recommendations are in the final regulations. CEC worked with members, Board of Directors, Representative Assembly, and others to develop recommendations that would strengthen services for children with disabilities and support special educators. Through our work, the following CEC recommendations, among others, were included in the regulations:

  • Strengthened provisions to reduce disproportionate representation of students from diverse cultures in special education.
  • Stronger measurable IEP goals instead of short-term objectives and benchmarks.
  • Paperwork reduction.
  • Reduced number of times schools must notify parents of procedural safeguards.
  • Rigorous standards for alternative routes to certification.
  • Multiple-year IEP pilot program.


In addition the article addresses topics such as ...

  • Identifying Students with Disabilities and Response-to-Intervention (RTI)
  • Early Intervening Services (EIS)
  • IEPs
  • Highly Qualified Teachers
  • Discipline
  • Accessible Instructional Materials for Children with Disabilities
  • New Definitions
  • Resources

Click here for the complete article, A Primer on the IDEA 2004 Regulations

Please email me with any additional resources or discussion interest for this very important topic.

Building Schools in Phases

This is a very interesting article I found in the October 2006 of the American School Board Journal.

The article details a very cost management solution to relieve overcrowding in schools. For example, building a school with the essentials (cafeteria, gym, etc.) and the first wing to accomodate the first incoming class, say we are talking about middle school so it would be the 6th grade wing. As the 6th grade is attending school, the 7th grade wing/section is being built to open the following year, etc. Thus the phase in process.

I wonder if this would work in Charles County?

Whether the goal is to renovate and expand existing schools or to build new ones. multi-phasing (also known as creating educational facilites in stages) is one solution. Careful planning and segment-based construction can address space issues in a timely manner even when all the money esn't available.

The article also has a few other good ideas. Check it out at

School Choice for Maryland

This is a GREAT handbook for those interested in school choice. Please visit for the complete article, how to order or download your copy.

A revolution is occurring in America’s education system. Public schools are being held accountable to higher standards and families are expecting more from their tax dollars. In many districts, discontented parents believe the only choice for their children is the local public school, which may or may not meet the needs of their children. However, alternatives are possible. Around the country, school choice reforms are giving parents the power to shape their children’s destinies by determining how and where they are educated.

This School Choice for Maryland handbook is written to inform Maryland parents and taxpayers and help give them the tools they need to benefit from the school choice revolution—a movement where, thus far, Maryland has been left behind. My hope is that this handbook will help Marylanders begin a conversation about how we too can benefit from embracing policies that give parents more options for how to educate their children. The more we know and understand about school choice opportunities that currently exist in our country, the better able we will be to call for these options in the Old Line State.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Chaotic Middle Schools

An article in the New York Times discusses delves into finding solutions for our chaotic middle schools.

Driven by newly documented slumps in learning, by crime rates and by high dropout rates in high school, educators across New York and the nation are struggling to rethink middle school and how best to teach adolescents at a transitional juncture of self-discovery and hormonal change.
The difficulty of educating this age group is felt even in many wealthy suburban school districts. But it is particularly intense in cities, where the problems that are compounded in middle school are more acute to begin with and where the search for solutions is most urgent.

To read the complete article, click here:

REMINDER - Board Meeting on Tuesday, January 9

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, January 9th at 1:00 pm. Come out and show your support for the new Board members! To see the full agenda please visit A few highlights include:

  1. Curriculum Update - Instructional Technology- Overview of instructional technologies and digital resources available for teaching and learning. Click here view the full report
  2. Policy Amendments - The Board can consider changes to its policies concerning adoption and maintenance of Board meeting minutes. Click here view the suggested changes
  3. Election of Board Chairman and Vice Chairman
  4. Presentation of Superintendent's Porposed Operating Budget for FY 2008

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Abell Wants to Rework the Rules for Parent Visits

That's the headline on today's front page of the Maryland Independent -

Charles County school board member Jennifer S. Abell wants to change the school system's parent visitation rules, which she considers "too restrictive."The current rules allow parents or guardians to visit by invitation, or they can schedule up to two 45-minute visitations during each grading period.

Not a bad article but this was hot news months ago. Hasn't been lately. Is the Indy trying to stir the pot, again? However, since it has been stirred it will be coming up and the new Board NEEDS public input on this. Not just criticism or kudos. Suggestions of actual do-able changes! Any ideas?

Merit Pay Must Be Part of Public Education Reform

An excerpt from an article today in the Baltimore Examiner
Hooray for Carroll County. The School Board wants state legislators to study the benefits of merit pay in the upcoming session starting this month.
They should study quickly and move the state system forward with a program that rewards performance in a way the private sector does and not in a way that treats the poor and mediocre performers the same way as the stellar teachers.
We are not alone in advocating merit pay. The September 2005 Governor’s Commission on Quality in Education report made creating a “new compensation system for teachers and principals” its No. 1 recommendation. A new system should “pay teachers according to their subject expertise, their demonstrated effectiveness, and the challenges of staffing particular schools,” the report said.

Read the full article at

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Courting the Middle Class

What can schools do to keep parents from going private, or moving to the suburbs?

An article in the American School Board Journal delves into this question.

"Fueled by optimism and driven to succeed, middle- and upper-middle-class families -- and those who aspire to join their ranks -- are cherished by public schools.
It’s easy to see why. Better educated and more affluent, middle-class families tend to send their children to school ready (and eager) to learn. And, as 45 percent of American voters, middle-class families also serve as public schools’ most ardent volunteers, advocates, and fundraisers.
Yet school districts across the country -- especially those in the nation’s largest cities -- are reporting alarming increases in middle-class flight, as more economically able families of all races opt for private and parochial schools, or schools in the farther-flung suburbs.
Reasons for the exodus vary, from soaring housing prices that make good neighborhoods with strong public schools a luxury fewer families can afford, to the well-publicized and persistent myth that most -- if not all -- public schools are failing."
Read the complete article

A New Report on Bullying

A new report (Queue, Inc. - December Issue ) has been published to mark the beginning of Anti-Bullying Week in England. It examines how bullying, or the fear of bullying, is the cause of a third of all truancies.
Snapshot of the findings:

  • 20,000 kids truant everyday because of bullying
  • 1 in 3 truants (36%) blame bullying
  • Two in five young people (42%) who are bullied, admit to skipping school at least once
  • Overall a third of all 11-17 year olds in the England admit to skipping school at least once because of the fear of bullying

The report is available here: