Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web

Public Profiles Raise Questions of Propriety and Privacy

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 28, 2008; Page A01

It's almost like Googling someone: Log on to Facebook. Join the Washington, D.C., network. Search the Web site for your favorite school system. And then watch the public profiles of 20-something teachers unfurl like gift wrap on the screen, revealing a sense of humor that can be overtly sarcastic or unintentionally unprofessional -- or both.

One Montgomery County special education teacher displayed a poster that depicts talking sperm and invokes a slang term for oral sex. One woman who identified herself as a Prince William County kindergarten teacher posted a satiric shampoo commercial with a half-naked man having an orgasm in the shower. A D.C. public schools educator offered this tip on her page: "Teaching in DCPS -- Lesson #1: Don't smoke crack while pregnant."

Just to be clear, these are not teenagers, the typical Internet scofflaws and sources of ceaseless discussion about cyber-bullying, sexual predators and so on. These are adults, many in their 20s, who are behaving, for the most part, like young adults.

Read more HERE

Changes approved at 9 failing schools statewide

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Teachers will have to reapply for their jobs at eight schools in the state, and the principal is retiring from a ninth school, state school officials decided on Tuesday.

Teachers must reapply for their jobs at three Baltimore County and five Prince George's County schools. The Baltimore County schools are Woodlawn High, Lansdowne Middle and Southwest Academy.

The principal of Edgewood Middle School in Harford County will be succeeded by someone who has undergone New Leaders for New Schools, a national principal training program.
"A study by the Center on Education Policy last year showed that Maryland's efforts to turn around its worst schools usually fail. "
Read more HERE

Saturday, April 26, 2008

REMINDER: Board Work Session, 4/28/08

REMINDER...there is a Board Work Session Monday, April 28th. Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

6:00 - Public Forum

On the Agenda

Action Items

  • Approval of contract award for C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School FDK addition - NOT AVAILABLE

Public Hearing on Budget

Friday, April 25, 2008


Just a little blurp I received in an email that I thought I would share.

"...Howard has just approved a design for the renovation of Mount Hebron High School, (1964), capacity 1,332, at an estimated cost of $57 million. Over a year ago, estimates to replace the school ran about $80 million. "

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

EACC Uncovers the Truth with County Funds

It's no secret...the EACC hired an independent fiscal consultant, RJ Pellicoro Associates, to perform an audit on county funding. The results...personally I wasn't shocked, it is exactly what we (members of the board of education) have been saying for years. However, the public will be shocked and now there is PROOF.
The below was in an email sent out by the EACC (teachers union) today.

The incredible shrinking budget
This year, the BOE was told they were getting $12 Million in new money (over last year’s allocation) from the County Commissioners. That was October.

By January, the Commissioners had revised that number down to $10 million.

Now, in April, they are saying it’s only going to be $8 Million.
Every week, there seems to be less for public education.

But wait, you say – isn’t that because the county’s estimates are going down, and aren’t those estimates based on SOLID EVIDENCE? Well let’s see –

According to our fiscal analyst, RJ Pellicoro and Associates, for the last three years, the revenue projections (at 52.4% to the Board of Education) have been off by
$13.3 Million (2005),
$20.9 Million (2006), and
$5.9 Million (2007).

That totals $40.1 million dollars that the Board of Education should have gotten, but didn’t, during those three years. And incidentally, that would be enough to give every employee in the system a 20% raise. We would certainly be able to compete for teachers then, wouldn’t we? Do you know how many textbooks, computers, additional staffing, and temporary classrooms you can buy for $40 Million?

So – if you haven’t written already, write ( or call (301-870-3000) the County Commissioners – tell them we can’t rely on their estimates – the history is not good. If they want to give the board less, they just revise a number – no problem!

They have a substantial fund balance if the revenues are indeed low. They need to give the Board of Education the $12 million in new money – at least – that they promised, and STOP shrinking the Board’s allocation.
And then this letter was sent to the Indy and the Post....
Dear Editor:

As President of the Education Association of Charles County, representing almost 1900 educators in the Charles County Public schools, I would appreciate an opportunity to tell our parents and citizens the truth regarding education funding in this county.

It is a common misconception that public schools receive roughly half of every dollar of revenue the county takes in. For example, a misleading ad from the “League of Maryland Homeowners” printed in the Maryland Independent March 26th states “the Board of Education already receives 52 cents out of every dollar of county taxes.” The formula this ad references was an agreement made almost ten years ago between the commissioners and the Board of Education – an agreement whereby the Board would get 52.4% of county revenue. This 52.4% figure is regularly bandied about as a given, particularly during campaigns for public office. But in fact, the Board of Education has not received 52.4% of the county’s revenue in many years.

EACC has hired an independent fiscal consultant, RJ Pellicoro Associates, a firm that has 20 years experience in analyzing the budgets of public agencies. All of the documents used by our analyst (the county audit, its bond prospectus, etc.) are, of course, public record and can be obtained by any citizen.

The Pellicoro report clearly shows funding from the county declining. For example, it states that “from FY 2002 to FY 2008, the % of total General Fund Expenditures and Transfers appropriated to the BOE declined from 50.4% to 44.8%, a decrease of 5.6 percentage points.” The loss of 5.6% represents a loss of $16.8 million to our public schools this year.

The reason for the shrinking percent is that the county has underestimated its revenue consistently for the last several years, and the public schools’ allocation was based on the inaccurate projections, not the actual revenue. Basically, when more money is received than projected, the county does not revise its funding to the Board of Education to bring the allocation in line with 52.4% of actual revenues.

Looking ahead, the county budget projections for the upcoming school year continue to be revised downward. Just since March, they have dropped their revenue estimates by $3 million – a loss of $1.5 Million to the Board of Education in less than a month. The more the revenue projections go down, the less the Board of Education gets. This is how we ended up with less than 52.4% over the last several years. We can’t continue to be penalized by low- ball estimates. If there is a genuine shortfall this year, the county has the means to raise revenue and a fund balance to offset any optimistic projections that don’t materialize.

As it is, our public school spending is hardly commensurate with our wealth. In 2005, Charles County ranked 7th in median household income in the state ($88,350) of Maryland. But it ranked 22nd out of 24 in per pupil expenditure. We are not keeping pace with other counties.

Charles County is opening new schools almost every year, but no additional revenue is allotted for one-time opening costs. Thus, the Board has to take this money from its (already reduced) operating budget. These are funds that could be used for competitive teacher salaries, lower class sizes, and better instructional materials.

Our county continues to grow, and the reputation of our excellent school system attracts more and more students. At the same time, we are facing a critical teacher shortage in this state, and we need funding to attract and retain qualified educators to meet this need. The CPI (inflation rate) as of March 2008 is 4.7% Housing prices in this county are out of reach for most new teachers. Many of them leave the area and some even leave the profession to be able to afford to own a home and provide for their families.

All of our commissioners and Board of Education members have publicly stated their commitment to excellent public schools, and in general they have tried to live up to that commitment. But the measure of their dedication will show in how they act in tough times, not when budgets are flush.

The county budget hearing is currently scheduled for Wednesday, May 14th at the county building. The Board of Education has its own budget work session scheduled for this Monday, April 28th at 6 p.m. at the Starkey Administrative Building. Parents, educators, and other citizens need to let the commissioners know they expect adequate funding of public schools (email -, and they need to tell the elected Board of Education members to accurately represent the needs of our students in their budget request. Our children are counting on us.

Bill Fisher

Monday, April 21, 2008

Board is Meeting Today, 4/21/08

The Board of Education will be meeting TODAY, 4/21/08, in executive session (closed to the public)at the Starkey building to discuss the new high school.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thomas Stone High School Biology Rap

This is fantastic!!

I wish more teachers would have FUN with teaching.



The Board of Education will be hosting a forum entitled "What Counts?" tentatively scheduled on Thursday, September 4th. This forum will include roundtable discussions to gather input from our community. Attendance and participation at this forum is by invitation only. Each board member has been asked to submit a list of 15 names by May 2nd as invitees.

If you are interested in being one of my 15 invitees to this event, please EMAIL ME as soon as possible, with your name and mailing address.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In the Mainstream but Isolated

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 17, 2008; Page B01

Victoria Miresso cannot button a shirt, match a sock or tell one school bus from another. Yet at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, she is expected to function much like any other sixth-grader, coping with class changes, algebra quizzes and lunchroom bullies.

Victoria's parents say she is a victim of inclusion: a trend, in Montgomery County and across the nation, toward shutting down traditional special education classes and placing special-needs students in regular classrooms at neighborhood schools.

Read more HERE

Monday, April 14, 2008

Notes from Board Meeting, 4/8/08

The Board Meeting from Tuesday, April 8th will be broadcast on Channel 96 on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.

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.

Superintendent Report

  • Budget not being presented today - financial challenges. All depts. & principals ask to go through budget for cuts of non-essentials. All out-of-state travel ceased. All outside staff development and food purchases ceased.
  • New HS architect is working for cuts including costs for a green school and pool. More at work session on 4/28
  • Davis dedication
  • Neal & Levilee is preparing ...mascot choosing
  • MSA began last week
  • upcoming activities
  • Thanks to student leadership & Mr. Pete Mahon.

Board Members Updates

  • Cook - NSBA conference - Ethical Literacy Session; Internet Cyber Safety
  • Carrington - Congratulations Stodderts Celebration of the Arts
  • Abell - NSBA conference, notes aren't prepared yet but some on website. MABE nominations due 5/30/08; MABE budget meetings 6/26 & 7/21
  • Wise - NSBA...Sidney Portier: Handling Media Inquiries with Nerves of Steel; Can you Hear Me now?; Cyber Bullying; Wants to submit one of our programs for Magna Awards
  • Pedersen - Fantastic first time conference; Use & Listening Tools; English Language Learners; School Board Financial Literacy
  • Wade - Charles Willis Award - due 7/3

EACC Update

  • Bus to visit with legislators
  • hired R.J. Pellicore Associates to review the county's budget. Full report still being compiled
  • School not receiving 52.4%. BOE based on projections not actual
  • See EACC Report for eye opening details
  • Teacher compensation #1 priority; teacher shortage
  • will join Board at commissioners meeting in May
  • Bailey - Will final report be available to the public?
  • Fisher - IT will be available to the Board
  • Bailey - Will you give a copy to the commissioners
  • Fisher - We'll see how we need to use.

Student Board Member Report

  • Jessica Mundy read Shah's report; he's away at a college interview
  • Student meeting and elections on Friday at 11:30 at LaPlata HS

Supporting Services Report CIP Update

  • Neal on schedule
  • Somers ahead of schedule
  • Requested a transfer of $2M from projects that came in under budget to purchase two 8 classroom modular units for North Point. Always planned for those units. Approved.
  • Architects working to reduce cost of new HS
  • Pedersen - requests for description of units for duplex
  • Wineland - relocateables come in classroom singles (1), duplex (2), quads (8). The quads are more cost efficient. One door at each end - center hallway - 4 classes on each side.
  • Wise - Duplex at Lackey?
  • Wineland - Yes
  • Wise - Electrical still there; same spot as previous relocateables?
  • Wineland - same spot; no electrical there; will need to be done
  • Bailey - Questions regarding costs
  • Wineland - $1.7M is cost of units; remaining $300K is for installation sidewalks, etc.
  • Wade - How Many relocateables
  • Wineland - 248 units next year; less expensive to buy a new one than move an old one

Instruction Report - New Textbooks

  • Advanced Placement English Language & Composition - $56.25 need 600
  • Health - Uses the term STI instead of STD; has new food pyramid; last purchased Health books in 1994. Comes with a video
  • Marketing and Web Design - Marketing $60.50 need 50;
  • Web Design course requires two books $49.50 & $52.50 & one optional $37.50
  • Books will be on display for 30 days at Lackey; Stone; and Starkey
  • (side note - I have personally reviewed all books and like them; let me know what you think)

Human Resources - 09-10 Calendar - Oral Report

  • This was an oral report; Actual report will be presented to the Board at the May meeting
  • Abell - Spring break before Easter as opposed to after
  • Hettel - arranged around MSA testing. Good Friday and Easter Monday are mandatory holidays per state law.
  • Hettel - First MD teachers fair in Baltimore at the Sheraton. 1300 interested applicants at fair. Charles County spoke to about 175 people. Long line. Interviewed 40 people. Grasmick there
  • Cook - Diverse group?
  • Hettel - racially and gender diverse; good things happening in Charles County
  • Carrington - States they were from
  • Hettel - MD - PG & Baltimore & Anne Arundel County & new MD grads
  • Wise - Area of interests?
  • Hettel - Math, Science & Special Ed

Legislative Update - Oral Report

  • Session is over
  • Attendance Age 17 - Unresolved...will come back next session
  • Student Bullying Bills ...HB199 passed, combination of multiple bills
  • Public Labor Relations Board - session
  • P.E. Bills - amended to a task force
  • Disabled Athletes - Passed; regulations coming from the state
  • HSA - Unresolved; thinks we'll see changes at the state level with new state board
  • tax credits for donation to scholarships
  • notification to parents to opt out of NCLB military recruitments - Passed
  • Wise - Disabled sports bill clarification
  • Schwartz - Howard County case - female wheelchair track runner; changes in COMAR forthcoming
  • Bailey - Boast bill vote count
  • Schwartz - Senate 30-17 House Died
  • Carrington - Sports bill unfunded mandate
  • Schwartz - yes

Unfinished Business

  • Pedersen - Number of students identified and removed for attending out of zone/county this year
  • Staff response was 77

New Business

Future Agenda Items

  • Pedersen - Communication issue with commissioners. They stated they were unaware of our APFO vote during a televised session
  • Abell - Didn't we discuss this with them at the retreat we had, and gave them the vote of unanimous?
  • Wise - Yes and the press was present. Suggests Wade send out a letter and call Commissioner Cooper
  • Abell - Consensus or motion
  • Wade - Consensus



Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)

  • Female - Lacross...4/2 article in Post. Team sport of MD. Fastest growing sport. Charles & PG only two counties. Only SMAC county not participating. Other counties had to go out of area. Parents happy to provide own gear. Coaches and buses only expense. Concern of effect on other sports not an issue. Kids already not participating in school sports because they are traveling out of town to play. Scholarships available.
  • Male - Drivers Ed in after school with CSM excluding private companies. Instructors required to have a license and instructors license. Instructors must have a physical and background check every two years $150. Taxpayers will have to pay for CSM or CCPS teachers. Consider cost factor if the wheels not broke don't fix it. Less parent involvement in schools.
  • Male - Athletic event attended with children and could not enter because of the smell of marijuana. Our Drug Free school zone is a joke. HSA's- reject Bridge Plan; make graduates pass. HSA's - if they don't pass no participation in extracurricular activities or athletics. On January 6, 2006 the Board passed to approve early entrance into Kindergarten, he's been calling for three years and still hasn't gotten a response. Black children progress on standardized test is appalling. Why are they so far behind? And he is disgraced that he is the only black parent here to speak for public forum.
  • Male - Lacrosse; post article; coach of lacrosse team in Mechanicsville; no Charles club teams after 8th grade. Please fund a Varsity Team. Look at other funding sources.

Action Items

All action items were unanimously approved by the board.

Mr. Bailey was not present for this portion of the meeting.

Reverse the teen dropout trend

By Colin Powell and Alma Powell
April 9, 2008

When nearly one-third of our students fail to complete high school — and when many of those who do graduate are not fully prepared for college and the workforce — it isn't just an education issue. It's an issue of national security. As a country, that's how we must think of it.

In the time it takes to read these paragraphs, another U.S. teenager will drop out of high school: 1.2 million students per year, nearly 7,000 students per school day, one student every 26 seconds drops out. For young people of color, the statistics are even more startling. Nearly half of African-American and Native-American students will not graduate with their class, while less than six in 10 Hispanic students will.

We say we have a dropout crisis. Looking at these figures, and the impact they have on our young people, our families and our country, we have more than a crisis. We're facing a catastrophe.

Read more HERE

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Graduation Shortcut for Student Short Credits

I personally don't agree with this, let me know what you think.

Published: April 11, 2008

Dennis Bunyan showed up for his first-semester senior English class at Wadleigh Secondary School in Harlem so rarely that, as he put it, “I basically didn’t attend.”

But despite his sustained absence, Mr. Bunyan got the credit he needed to graduate last June by completing just three essay assignments, which he said took about 10 hours.

“I’m grateful for it, but it also just seems kind of, you know, outrageous,” Mr. Bunyan said. “There’s no way three essays can possibly cover a semester of work.”

Mr. Bunyan was able to graduate through what is known as credit recovery — letting those who lack credits make them up by means other than retaking a class or attending traditional summer school. Although his principal said the makeup assignments were as rigorous as regular course work, Mr. Bunyan’s English teacher, Charan Morris, was so troubled that she boycotted the graduation ceremony, writing in an e-mail message to students that she believed some were “being pushed through the system regardless of whether they have done the work to earn their diploma.”

Read more HERE

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Federal grant allows for HIV education in state classrooms

Jennifer Raley
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND - The Maryland State Department of Education received a $1.38 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for HIV prevention education and the Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

"I'm very pleased that MSDE is working with us on this," said Lorelee Farrell, director of health and family life at the Allegany County Board of Education. "Kids need to have this type of information. They have to learn that they play a huge role in determining their future. Life just doesn't happen; it's about choices."

During the first year of the grant, MSDE will conduct an inventory of the prevention programs to determine if improvements are needed. In addition to professional development, training and Web-based technology, the grant will be used to develop a strategic plan for guidance and direction of prevention activities.

In May, Farrell will learn more about what programs will be available in Allegany County as a result of the grant.

Read more HERE

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Va. 8th-Graders Edge Peers in Writing

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008; Page B06

U.S. eighth-graders and high school seniors showed stronger writing skills last year than their counterparts did five years earlier, a federal report says, and eighth-graders in Virginia public schools continued to beat the national average.

The writing assessment, part of a federally financed series of findings known as the Nation's Report Card, aims to get a handle on how well students across the country can craft essays, letters and stories.

Virginia's public school eighth-graders edged their peers elsewhere in writing scores made public yesterday, earning an average of 157 on a 300-point scale, compared with the national average of 154. The state also exceeded the national average for that measure in 2002 and 1998.

Maryland and the District did not participate in the writing test last year. There were no state-by-state results for 12th-graders.

Read more HERE

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

U.S. to Require States to Use a Single School Dropout Formula

Published: April 1, 2008

New York Times

Moving to sweep away the tangle of inaccurate state data that has obscured the severity of the nation’s high school dropout crisis, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings will require all states to use one federal formula to calculate graduation and dropout rates, Bush administration officials said on Monday.

The requirement would be one of the most far-reaching regulatory actions taken by any education secretary, experts said, because it would affect the official statistics issued by all 50 states and each of the nation’s 14,000 public high schools.

Ms. Spellings will announce her action at a so-called dropout prevention summit in Washington on Tuesday, the officials said. The summit is organized by a group beginning a national campaign intended to reduce dropout rates.

“In the coming weeks, I will take administrative steps to ensure that all states use the same formula to calculate how many students graduate from high school on time — and how many drop out,” Ms. Spellings said in remarks prepared for delivery on Tuesday and made available to The New York Times.

Read more HERE

Monday, April 07, 2008

'Safe Harbor' Offers Shelter From Strict 'No Child' Targets

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 7, 2008; Page B01

Hundreds of schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District were judged to have made adequate progress last year under the No Child Left Behind Act even though they failed to meet performance targets for all groups of historically underperforming students, the requirement at the heart of the law.

The schools -- 153 in Maryland, 100 in Virginia and 11 in the District -- satisfied the law under a "safe harbor" provision. It forgives a school for low test scores from one or more subgroups if those students show yearly improvement and if the school scores well on the whole.

The extent to which schools rely on the provision illustrates the challenge posed by the No Child Left Behind law, which requires that poor and minority students meet the same performance goals as the overall school population, with the target rising by a few points each year. In Maryland, where students are being tested this week, schools must raise proficiency rates by five points in reading and seven points in math this year to demonstrate adequate progress. Testing begins April 22 in the District and in May for most Northern Virginia schools.

Read more HERE

Sunday, April 06, 2008

REMINDER: Board Meeting 4/8/08

Just wanted to remind everyone there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, April 8th. Can't can watch it live on Channel 96. It will also be re-broadcast on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Fridays at 9 a.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. . To view the full agenda and the various reports, please visit BoardDocs.


12:00 - Executive Session
1:00 - Board Meeting begins

The remainder of the meeting immediately follows Public Forum


4:30 - Recognition

6:30 - Public Forum (Must sign-up prior to 6:30)

Action Items

Class Schedulers Think Outside the Blocks

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 10, 2008; Page B01

In most public high schools in the Washington area, classes last as long as 90 minutes apiece and course lineups for each student alternate every day under the block-scheduling innovation that took root a decade ago. Campuses often use color coding to remind students where to go. Fairfax High School, for one, has "blue days" and "gray days."

But some schools are switching back to the old routine of 45-minute daily classes as educators and researchers question whether the new approach has led to higher achievement.

Block scheduling aims to maximize time for in-depth teaching and opportunities for students to meet graduation requirements. Usually the schedules mean four courses one day and four others the next, although sometimes courses alternate in fall and spring.

Read more HERE

Saturday, April 05, 2008

'Crisis' graduation gap found between cities, suburbs

By Greg Toppo

WASHINGTON — The likelihood that a ninth-grader in one of the nation's biggest cities will clutch a diploma four years later amounts to a coin toss — not much better than a 50-50 chance, new research finds.
Cross into the suburbs, and the odds improve dramatically.

The findings, which are being released today, look closely for the first time at the gap in high school graduation rates between public schools in the 50 biggest cities and the suburbs that surround them. Among the alarming disparities: In 12 cities, the gap exceeds 25 percentage points. Of those cities, nine are in the Northeast or Midwest.

The study was commissioned by America's Promise Alliance, a group of foundations, advocacy and non-profit organizations, and corporate and religious groups focusing on children's education, safety and health. It was founded by former general Colin Powell and is headed by his wife, Alma. The alliance plans a series of dropout-prevention summits in each state over the next two years.

GRADUATION RATES: 50 largest cities

Read more HERE