Sunday, August 31, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!!

"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. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

NOTES: Board Work Session, 08/25/08

The Board Work Session Monday, August 25th will be re-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.

In my opinion, this meeting was very unproductive and a waste of not only our time but staff.


  • None
WORK SESSION - Board Priorities Sub-Committee
  • Discussion and decision was made that these are the boards priorities and now its up to staff to address, provide details and progress in an ongoing manner

WORK SESSION - MABE Committees (no report available)

  • In my opinion, most board members thought the Chair was looking for volunteers to serve on a MABE committee. However, it was determined that the Chair was actually looking for nominations for the MABE Charles W. Willis award. There was no paperwork or criteria provided and therefore we were unable to submit nominees. I tried searching the MABE web-site to know avail.

WORK SESSION - Review of Policies #8000 and #9336

  • Abell - pointed out that it should be a review of the entire 8000 series, not just policy 8000.
  • Discussion about how to proceed
  • Wade - suggested Pedersen bring changes before the board.
  • Abell - volunteered to serve on a committee as opposed to one person solely responsible
  • Schwartz - advised the Chair to solicit volunteers outside of the meeting and appoint committee members
  • Abell - asked Schwartz for clarification and reasoning in the different processes.
  • Schwartz - explained if the Chair appointed them in the public meeting then the committee would be an "official" board committee as opposed to not.
  • (side note - what Schwartz didn't say was...if the Chair appointed members during the public meeting and made the committee an "official" committee, then this committee would be subject to all the rules & regulations of the Open Meetings Act and the meetings would be open to the public.)
  • (side note #2- didn't we decide during the August Board meeting that we would be going over these together because the Chair didn't want a committee)

WORK SESSION - Discussion on Public Forum at Work Sessions (no report available)

  • Abell - reason for this item, uncertain the purpose or intention
  • Wade - feels we have given staff conflicting information
  • Pedersen - questions how public forum concerns are addressed. i.e. the Blue Ribbon Commission has asked for a meeting.
  • Richmond - suggests we met with them during a work session
  • Discussion
  • Abell - no problem with public forums at work sessions; doesn't require extra time and provides another opportunity to hear from constituents
  • Pedersen - agrees
  • Wise - agrees
  • Richmond - agrees
  • O'Malley-Simpson - committee needs to modify Policy 8000

WORK SESSION - Draft minutes of the August 12, 2008, regular Board meeting; Motions

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!!

"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. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Despite Reduced Budgets, Many Students Will Return To New or Restored Facilities

Higher Test Scores Among Counties' Goals

By Jenna Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 17, 2008; Page SM01

Even with tighter public school budgets, Southern Maryland students and their parents can anticipate new initiatives, construction projects and curriculum changes when schools reopen this week and next.

Students in St. Mary's and Calvert counties return to class Wednesday; Charles County students start Aug. 25. School officials in the three counties say they are working to increase state standardized test scores, launch safe-driving initiatives in high schools and offer intense science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes.

Some students will arrive for their first day at new or renovated schools. Charles is opening its 21st elementary school, Mary B. Neal Elementary on Piney Church Road in Waldorf. Students decided in the spring that the school's mascot should be a blue crab, so on Wednesday they will be greeted by Pinch, the furry blue mascot of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball team.

"It's all ready to go," Charles School Superintendent James E. Richmond said of the new building, which can accommodate 760 students and will relieve crowding at other schools.

Charles is also building additions or renovating at four elementary schools that lost classroom space when the county implemented full-day kindergarten.

Calvert is finishing construction of Barstow Elementary School on Williams Road in Prince Frederick. The school's opening has been delayed until at least November, so Barstow students will temporarily attend classes in trailers at Calvert Elementary. Calvert is also starting construction of a Calvert Middle School building. Its students will not have to be relocated during the project because they'll continue to go to the existing school.
Read more HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2008

REMINDER: Board Work Session, 8/25/08

Reminder... there is a Board Work Session Monday, August 25th. 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 pm - Board Meeting begins with Public Forum

WORK SESSION - Board Priorities Sub-Committee
WORK SESSION - MABE Committees (no report available)
WORK SESSION - Review of Policies #8000 and #9336
WORK SESSION - Discussion on Public Forum at Work Sessions (no report available)
ACTION - Draft minutes of the August 12, 2008, regular Board meeting; Motions

Thursday, August 21, 2008

School system plans eleventh annual College Fair


More than 130 colleges will participate in the eleventh annual Charles County College Fair on Sept. 15, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees Community Center on Crain Highway in Waldorf.

The fair is hosted by Charles County Public Schools. High school juniors and seniors attend the event during the school day as part of the system's career readiness goal in the five-year plan. Students are transported from school by bus and are able to speak with representatives and gather information from participating colleges.

The public is invited to attend the evening session of the fair from 6-8 p.m. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to the fair. Additionally, two financial aid workshops will be held, one at 6 p.m. and one at 7 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

School System Sponsors Bus Hotline


Charles County Public Schools is sponsoring a bus hotline for parents to call with questions about school bus routes.

Call 301-932-6655 to access the hotline. The hotline is available on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Aug. 25 and Aug. 26 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All schools have mailed bus route schedules home to parents and should call their child's school if they have not received a schedule. Additionally, bus stops within established subdivisions are permanently placed at specific locations to ensure consistency and equity among riders and will not be changed.

For additional information call the department of transportation at 301-934-7262.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Exit Scramble

States that rushed to tie high school graduation to passing a high-stakes test now face pressure to come up with alternatives, even as critics warn against a dilution of standards.

By Michele McNeil

A decade-long push by states to make high school students pass an exit exam before getting their diplomas has stalled as politically sensitive student-failure rates contribute to a growing public backlash against high-stakes testing.

Though 26 states have adopted such mandates—most of them since 2000—that number has remained static since last year, according to a report scheduled for release this week by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization that has tracked the trend for the past seven years.

And for nearly a dozen states, compliance deadlines that once seemed far off have begun to bite, leading Arizona, Alabama, Maryland, and Washington, among others, to soften their mandates by offering alternative paths to a diploma, or by also weighing factors such as a student’s grade point average.

Read more HERE

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Md. schools meet federal 'No Child' standards

By Liz Bowie Sun reporter
7:32 PM EDT, August 14, 2008

A greater percentage of Maryland's elementary and middle schools met federal achievement standards than in recent years, even as the state raised the bar by requiring more students in each school to pass the yearly tests in reading and math.

Education officials Thursday released the state's annual report of school progress under the No Child Left Behind act, with about 84 percent meeting targets. Maryland put 169 of 1,129 elementary and middle schools on a list of schools that need improvement, compared with 176 the year before.

In seven school systems -- including Carroll County -- every school met the standards.

But the state's new way of categorizing schools also illuminated the entrenched failure at 59 of the state's troubled schools, many in Baltimore and Prince George's County. Those schools have failed to meet the standards for at least five years in a row and some for as much as a decade despite repeated attempts at reform.

Read more HERE

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!!

"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. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

403(b) Questions

I received some questions regarding the 403(b) plan and below are the answers provided by staff (thank you) after some tension ...

Q. What companies bid on the RFP (I assume there was an RFP that went out)?

A. Yes, an RFP was solicited to the public via CCPS bid board and the Maryland Independent Newspaper. Former 403b providers and vendors that were registered with CCPS via on-line registration received automatic notifications. Eight (8) firms responded:
Horace Mann
Great West
Felder Group
AXA Equitable
AIG Valic

Q. What companies assisted the BOE in the decision making process (consultants or other financial companies)?

A. Goldberg, Yolles and Lepore Consulting Group Wachovia Securities, LLC. This firm manages the MABE insurance funds, the MABE OPEB investment fund, and the CCBOE classified pension plan investments. Their review was independent. In addition, there was an internal review committee consisting of senior staff from the Finance and Human Resources divisions which made final recommendations.

Q. What were the deciding factors that led to the successful bid by MetLife?
A. Each firm was evaluated based on the following criterion which was included in the RFP:
Market Position- Ranked by Experience w/segments
Fund Selection
Fund Cost Ranking
Asset Based Cost Ranking
Administration Services
Surrender Schedule and fees
Local Presence/ Capability
Responsiveness of Respondents
Website/ Employee Communication
Trend Line for Business Growth
Current CCBOE market penetration

Friday, August 15, 2008

Schools achieve AYP on state tests

Well first look the press release from CCPS is a little deceiving. Actually all elementary schools met AYP and all but one middle school met AYP. (High school not released yet.) See the actual press release below.

All Charles County Public Schools elementary schools and seven middle schools met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to Maryland State Department of Education data released today. No county schools are on the state watch list. The state has not released high school or system AYP results.

AYP is determined by student results on the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) taken by students in grades 3-8 in April. AYP is the gain that schools must make each year in proportion to students achieving proficiency in reading and math. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), schools must show progress across all grade levels and in all race/ethnicity and special services categories--special education, limited English proficient, and economically disadvantaged students.

If a school is unable to make progress in all areas, including attendance, for two consecutive years, it is identified for School Improvement status and faces a variety of requirements designed to bring about improvements. Schools unable to make progress in all areas for one year are named as needing local attention, but do not face any state mandates or intervention. No Charles County schools are on the school improvement list. Charles County is one of the few counties in the state that has never had a school on the state school improvement list.

One school, Mattawoman Middle School, was identified as needing local attention, meaning they achieved their Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) last year, but fell short this year. Mattawoman did not achieve AMO in three subgroup areas: African American math, free and reduced meals (FARMS) math, and special education math. This is the first year since 2003, when the state mandated the exams, that Mattawoman has missed its targets. Last year, seven schools were identified as needing local attention, but each of those schools made significant progress this year and met AYP.

"Most of our schools and students are making the progress required by the state, but we continue to focus our efforts to ensure that all children are succeeding. We have reviewed the results from each school and we are addressing areas where the testing shows we need improvement," said James E. Richmond, superintendent of schools.

Statewide, system and local school data are now available on the Maryland State Department of Education's report card,

The MSA exams are given in the spring to third through eighth grade students in reading and mathematics.

In the coming months, the Maryland State Department of Education will release High School Assessment scores, and graduation numbers. High school students take High School Assessments, and starting with this year's graduating seniors - the class of 2009 - students must pass four tests - English II, biology, local, state and national government (LSN) and algebra - in order to graduate.

Charles County Public Schools Maryland State Assessment Facts (AYP and MSA)

  • The state defines AYP as the cornerstone of Maryland's new accountability system and replaces the School Performance Index as the method by which Maryland tracks academic progress. Schools and school systems must show that students are making AYP in reading, mathematics, attendance (elementary and middle schools) and graduation rate (high schools)
  • No Charles County middle or elementary public schools are on the state's school improvement list, which includes schools that have not met standards for two consecutive years and are not improving. One school has been identified as needing local attention, a designation given to schools that miss making adequate improvement in any area for one year. Information on high school scores and AYP will not be available until the fall.
  • AYP requirements include scores for reading and mathematics for all students as well as subgroups of students. Student achievement is reported in the aggregate (all students) as well as eight subgroups of students. Subgroups are: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, White (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic, students receiving free and reduced meals, special education and Limited English Proficient.

Candidates’ K-12 Views Take Shape

Education Week
McCain and Obama Tussle On Choice, Teacher Issues
By Alyson Klein

As their education plans begin to crystallize, sharper differences are emerging between John McCain and Barack Obama on school choice, teacher preparation, and tutoring, even as neither presidential candidate has released a detailed proposal on revising the No Child Left Behind Act.

Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., has pledged to direct federal money to alternative teacher-certification programs, give parents more direct access to supplemental educational services, and expand private school choice, specifically through online education and by expanding the federally funded voucher experiment in Washington.

Read more HERE

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Model Plan of Merit Pay in Ferment

Education Week
Union Objects to Proposal to Modify Pact in Denver
By Vaishali Honawar

Denver’s performance-pay system for teachers has long been hailed as a model, in good part because it was jointly conceived and implemented by the school district and the local teachers’ union. But that collaborative spirit is now in jeopardy, with union and district leaders engaged in a protracted battle over proposed changes to the system.

The two sides are expected to go to the negotiating table Aug. 20 to sort out their differences, and have been meeting separately with mediators in the interim. But the rift is wide enough that the union, in a recent newsletter, called on teachers to prepare for a strike if negotiations fall through.

The district says the time is right for a change: ProComp, or the Professional Compensation Plan for teachers, as it is formally known, was ushered in by Denver voters in 2004, and the agreement calls for negotiations every three years, school officials say.

“ProComp was never intended to become a static plan like a traditional master salary schedule. Over time it needed to be adjusted based on the needs of teachers and the district and the window called for the negotiations is right now,” said schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, pointing out that the district and the union also signed an agreement to open negotiations on ProComp in February of this year.

School officials also say that the changes proposed by the 74,000-student district—including raising teachers’ starting salaries and giving additional incentives to teachers at hard-to-staff schools and of high-demand subjects like math and science—would help attract more teachers.

But the union says it is too early to take those steps.

Read more HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Charles County Students Participate in NSWC STEM Summer Program

The BayNet
LA PLATA - 7/28/2008

More than 30 Charles County Public Schools students participated in the first science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) summer program sponsored by the school system and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head division.

The two-week-long program was held at Theodore G. Davis Middle School from June 30 through July 11, and 33 Charles County middle school students participated. The students were divided into groups of seven and were from Mattawoman and Davis middle schools. Each team had a county science teacher assigned to serve as their team’s referee and were paired with an engineer from NSWC.

The program introduced students to a series of science and engineering problems through Material World Modules (MWM), various engineering challenges, robotics challenges and a research project.

The modules are a series of kits students use to investigate real world engineering problems. One module covered why specific sports equipment, such as golf balls, tennis balls, footballs and basketballs, are used for specific sports. Students examined the physical properties of the balls, including the size, mass and weight of distribution and how many layers of materials are used to create the equipment.

The second of two modules consisted of smart sensors, including light, infrared and magnetic sensors. Students were required to investigate the sensor’s trigger and hypothesize what sets the sensor off, such as light, temperature, motion and pressure. Student teams also had to map our where, in the area surrounding the sensor, the sensor went off to try and figure out how to avoid the trigger. Teams were then required to compete against each other in a contest to see which team could successfully pass by each sensor without being detected.

Read more HERE

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

NOTES: Board Meeting, August 12, 2008

The Board Meeting Tuesday, August 12th will be re-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.

REPORT - Superintendent - Report (Richmond)

  • 175 new teachers; orientation all week; tour of county today
  • Summer programs
  • Neal Elem. ready
  • Summer energy savings $150,000; bus routes consolidated; 07 diesel $2.85; 08 diesel $4.70
  • Veteran teachers return on Monday 8/18
  • Students return on Monday 8/25
REPORT - Board Members

  • Wade - MABE meeting with Governor next week; Wise asked to attend
  • Wise - PBIS conference, speaker Dr. Rybowski (sp?), Pres. UMBC states he always recommends Southern Maryland, specifically Charles County as the best place to move to in Maryland
  • Wade - suggests BOE monthly newsletter/input to paper on CCPS programs
REPORT - Board Members - What Counts Update

  • MABE - Kitty Blumsack - about 20 people responded
  • Wants board members to act as recorders
  • color coded name labels and tables with 7 people each
REPORT - Board Members - Board Priorities Sub-Committee

  • Abell - sub committee report categorized by need. #1 students, #2 Teachers and Staff, #3 Facilities/Budgetary, #4 completed or out of our control. How to proceed?
  • Carrington - Requests a work session
REPORT - EACC - Report (Fisher)

  • many conferences, conventions & trainings
  • Recognize & appreciate BOE efforts with budget & contracts
  • New officers
  • Membership committee providing sessions for new teachers
  • 8/22 EACC crab feast
  • Congratulate Col. Wade regarding communicating with public
REPORT - Deputy Superintendent - Preparation for Fall Sports (no report) (Jan Johnson)

  • every HS having parent meeting 4 each season & provide hand book with all rules & guidelines
  • all students required physical examination; offer @ all HS @ minimal charge
  • Hired a hydration/nutritionist
  • New MPSSA ruling - out of season practice allowed. Coaches ARE able to work with HS athletes year round.
  • AD's meet with all coaches; certified in AED & CPR & athletic injuries
  • Summer conditioning provided at all HS
  • NIAAA offering online courses for volunteer coaches for certification
  • Lightening detectors
  • SMAC pre-season meetings
  • Security - great partnership with CCSO; provided at needed events
  • Activity buses increase student participation
  • Supervision of athletes before & after practice improving
  • Bleachers inspected annually
  • Field maintenance outstanding
  • email notification of game cancellations
  • thank you for allowing and budgeting for athletic trainers. Goal is 6, one for each HS
  • Wise - CPR version?
  • Johnson - all updated versions
  • Wise - Lacrosse?
  • Johnson - purchased equipment for every HS. Researching best way to implement for a successful program. Will have a program this spring.
  • Wise - hydration/nutritionist frequency?
  • Johnson - testing done at AD's request & teaches students self monitoring of urine
  • Berringer - thank you for the physicals at the hs
  • Pedersen - hydration needed throughout day when afternoon sports games. some schools don't allow water bottles to be carried throughout the day
  • Johnson - educate students; unfortunately not all students fill them with water
  • Carrington - require parents to attend hydration testing/education
  • Johnson - parents already being asked to attend but not required
  • Carrington - would like to see at least one of the coaches from that school
  • Johnson - First priority but not always possible
  • Abell - Under the impression activity buses were cut from budget
  • Johnson - No, they are continuing but condensed some routes
  • Abell - Athletic trainers implementation?
  • Johnson - office hours with training room available to meet with students, parents and coaches upon request from any. Trained in injury prevention and treatment
  • Abell - Summer conditioning offered at all high schools? communicated?
  • Johnson - yes; announced throughout middle & high schools and coaches
  • Abell - Reinforce the communication efforts that Westlake uses for all schools
  • Abell - rescue squad at games?
  • Johnson - yes

REPORT - Student Member Report (no report)

  • 50 students attended SMECO conference
  • 23 students to skill building workshop
  • 10 middle and 10 high students to leadership workshop
  • Oct CCASC meeting

REPORT - CIP - Report (Wineland)

  • Neal - complete; mascot = Blue Crabs
  • Somers - 99% complete; 4 months ahead of schedule
  • Lackey - Duplex delivered
  • NP - relocateables completed; handicap ramps will be installed
  • Hope/Nanj - site prep for FDK
  • Abell - Somers relocateables not needed now?
  • Wineland - Will be moved out
REPORT - State CIP 2010 - Report (Wineland)
  • Due to state 10/6; followed Master Plan
  • Lots of information - see report; Action item next month
REPORT - New High School

  • SHW - Jeffries (sp?) - presented at a Canada/USA superintendent meeting; boasted on Mr. Richmond
REPORT - Curriculum - SY09 Master Plan Annual Update

  • Lots of information - See Report
REPORT - Curriculum - Summer Opportunities

  • Again, lots of information - see report
REPORT - Curriculum - HSA Bridge Plan Summer Program (no report)

  • We're first system in the state to offer the bridge plan; very successful
  • students testimonials

REPORT - Budget - Classified Pension Plan Documents

  • See report
REPORT - Human Resources - Staffing (no report)

  • Critical shortage areas required additional recruiting
  • Elementary - all hired
  • Middle - Need 2 language arts & 2 Phys ed
  • High - Need 1 math, 1 eng, 2 ROTC, 1 bio, 1 chem, 1 art, 1 family consumer science, 1 ??
  • 3 Special ed/life skills
  • House Keys for Employees - 5 home purchases
  • increase in # of teachers coming to teach that are CCPS graduates
  • increase in # of teachers coming in to teach with previous teaching experience

REPORT - Recurring Resolutions - Report

  • Bailey - minor wording changes on three resolutions
  • Cunningham - will correct and send in update


  • Pedersen - Blue Ribbon Commission wants to meet with us


  • Carrington - Priorities work session possible 8/25?
  • Cunningham - Commissioner requests cost of graduations; $3,400 arena per school; $1,000 audio equipment per school; $3,000 spending allotment per school; $500 video allotment per school; $7,000 donation project graduation; $7,000 State Police total; $2,318 interpreters total; $17,980 transportation total
  • possible NP; road ways not capable at this time. The only cost savings would be facility and decrease in transportation, all other costs remain
  • Richmond - Senator Cardin has requested a tour of NP


  • Abell - Requests review of Policy 8000 & 9336 again.


  • None

ACTION - Draft minutes of the June 10, 2008, regular Board meeting

Motion by Wise; Second by Cook
Yes - Unanimous

ACTION - June 23, 2008, work session; Motions

Motion by Wise; Second by Cook
Abstain - Pedersen; Yes - Abell, Bailey, Carrington, Cook, Wade, Wise

ACTION - Personnel
Motion by Carrington; Second by Pedersen
Yes - Unanimous
Motion by Wise; Second by Pederen
Yes - Unanimous

The Biggest Issue

New York Times
Op-Ed Columnist
Published: July 29, 2008

Why did the United States become the leading economic power of the 20th century? The best short answer is that a ferocious belief that people have the power to transform their own lives gave Americans an unparalleled commitment to education, hard work and economic freedom.

Between 1870 and 1950, the average American’s level of education rose by 0.8 years per decade. In 1890, the average adult had completed about 8 years of schooling. By 1900, the average American had 8.8 years. By 1910, it was 9.6 years, and by 1960, it was nearly 14 years.

As Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz describe in their book, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” America’s educational progress was amazingly steady over those decades, and the U.S. opened up a gigantic global lead. Educational levels were rising across the industrialized world, but the U.S. had at least a 35-year advantage on most of Europe. In 1950, no European country enrolled 30 percent of its older teens in full-time secondary school. In the U.S., 70 percent of older teens were in school.

America’s edge boosted productivity and growth. But the happy era ended around 1970 when America’s educational progress slowed to a crawl. Between 1975 and 1990, educational attainments stagnated completely. Since then, progress has been modest. America’s lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited, with many nations surging ahead in school attainment.

Read more HERE

Monday, August 11, 2008

Education as a Civil Rights Issue

New York Times
Published: August 1, 2008

Civil rights groups have begun a welcome attack on a House bill that would temporarily exempt the states from the all-important accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law in 2002. The attack, led by powerful groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, was unexpected, given that the nation’s two big teachers’ unions actually hold seats on the conference’s executive committee. Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.

Despite innocuous packaging, the House bill looks very much like a stealth attempt to gut the national school accountability effort. Introduced by Representatives Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, and Timothy Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota who is a former teacher, it is supported by the National Education Association, the influential teachers’ union that has been trying to kill off No Child Left Behind for years.

The bill, which is unlikely to pass, would permit the states to ignore the parts of the law that require them to pursue corrective actions at failing schools. That would encourage lassitude in states and districts that have already dragged their feet for too long. It would sap the energy of states that have shown clear progress since the law was passed and are eager to move forward. Once stopped, the reform effort could take years to get moving again.

Read more HERE

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"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. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Summer Often Spells No Vacation From Homework

Some Educators Rethinking Workload

By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; Page A01

Issie Griffith conquered two novels and a 100-page math packet on a recent summer break. So this year, the 12-year-old was ready for her latest load of vacation homework: four books to read, each with written summaries, preparation for the rigors of sixth grade.

Now it is just a matter of finishing it up as the days of summer dwindle.

"I have a lot to go," said Issie, who spent many hours this summer at the pool, with friends, and at tennis and acting camps. Still, she said, "I know I'm going to get it done."

For Issie and many other students across the Washington region, summer homework is as familiar as fireworks in July and back-to-school shopping in August. Often, it goes far beyond the summer reading list that some of their parents remember from childhood. First-graders solve math problems. Middle schoolers create plot summaries. High school students pore over Shakespeare, Dickens and Twain.

Lately this modern rite of the season is under increased scrutiny as many educators rethink how much summer homework students should get, whether it should be required, and how it is related to classroom lessons.

Read more HERE

Friday, August 08, 2008

"What Counts?" Update

I know of several individuals requested to be a part of this event through me and have not confirmed their attendance as of yet. If you received an invitation to attend this event, please respond to CCPS (301-934-7224 or ) ASAP.


What do you think counts in education? The Board of Education wants to know.

"What Counts" is the topic for discussion at a community forum set for Thursday, Sept. 4, 7-9 p.m., in the Maurice J. McDonough High School cafeteria. McDonough is located in Pomfret.

Invitations have been sent out to a cross-section of county residents to ensure well-rounded participation, but the public is invited to attend and participate as well.

The goal of the forum is simple. Board members want to learn what Charles County residents think counts in education and explore how the effectiveness and quality of public schools should be measured. The Board hopes to engage participants in small round-table discussions about what the community wants from its public schools.

Col. Donald Wade, chairman of the Board of Education, said, "The forum is to hear everyone who has opinions on what their expectations of schools are, especially in these times of high accountability and state-mandated testing. Beyond high test scores, what do people think makes a good school system? Is it college matriculation, advanced courses, small classes, quality facilities or advanced technology? We hope to find out during this forum and to use this information as we set our direction for the next three to five years."

Participants will be asked to fill out a handout listing quality school characteristics and be placed in small groups of six to 10 people. After each person has made their individual selections, a facilitator will ask participants to share their rationale for their selections. Each group will have to decide on the top eight most important indicators, with a rational for each.

Following the forum, a summary report will be provided to each public school and each participant. Additionally, the Board will share the report with local leaders and business owners and post it on the Charles County Public Schools Web site.

Anyone who would like to participate in the forum should call or e-mail Kessandra Stubblefield, executive assistant to the Board, at 301-934-7224 or

"We hope people will join us and let us know what counts," Wade said.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fairfax Fed Up With Lunch-Line Thieves

$1 Million Loss Leads to Security Cameras in School Cafeterias

By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 4, 2008; Page A01

For the first time, video cameras will monitor Fairfax County high school cafeterias this fall to keep students from pilfering chicken wraps or veggie burgers in the lunch line.

The region's largest school system is turning to video surveillance, already widely used on school buses and outside school buildings, to combat what officials say has become a pervasive problem: food theft. The school system's food and nutrition services department estimated that $1.2 million worth of prepared food was lifted from cafeterias in the past school year.

Board members decided last month that they could no longer swallow such losses, given a $150 million school budget shortfall and rising food prices. They approved a one-year tryout for cafeteria cameras at Annandale, Mount Vernon and Westfield high schools and Lake Braddock, Robinson and South County secondary schools.

Penny McConnell, director of food and nutrition services, said she hopes the cameras will curb theft and send a message to students that stealing from the cafeteria is no less serious than shoplifting from a store. "I would hate for them to make this a habit and take it into the community," she said. "They could get themselves into some serious situations that could impact their futures."

Read more HERE

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

REMINDER: Board Meeting, 08/12/08

Reminder... there is a Board Meeting Tuesday, August 12th. 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.


9:30 - Executive Session
11:00 - Board Meeting begins
3:30 - Public Forum

REPORT - Superintendent - (no report available)
REPORT - Board Members - What Counts Update; Board Priorities Sub-Committee
REPORT - EACC - (no report available)
REPORT - Deputy Superintendent - Preparation for Fall Sports (no report available)
REPORT - CIP - (no report available)
REPORT - State CIP 2010 - (no report available)
REPORT - Curriculum - SY09 Master Plan Annual Update; Summer Opportunities; HSA Bridge Plan Summer Program (no report available)
REPORT - Budget - Classified Pension Plan Documents (no report available)
REPORT - Human Resources - Staffing (no report available)
REPORT - Recurring Resolutions - Report





ACTION - Draft minutes of the June 10, 2008, regular Board meeting and the June 23, 2008, work session; Motions
ACTION - Personnel
ACTION - Ethics Regulation Amendment

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

For Many Student Athletes, Game Over

Published: July 28, 2008

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — Student athletes in maroon and gold uniforms filled their water coolers with more than $19,000 in donations last weekend by standing on street corners here to ask friends, neighbors and strangers alike to help revive the school district’s $1.1 million athletic program, which was eliminated last month in budget cuts.

On Long Island, a group of parents started a charitable corporation, Wantagh S O S (Save Our Students), to collect money for nearly 100 sports teams and extracurricular clubs that were dropped from the school district’s budget last month. The group has raised more than $334,000, about half of its goal, through dinner parties, car washes, a lacrosse tournament and a walk-a-thon at Jones Beach.

And come fall, middle school students in Dearborn, Mich., will have to settle for fewer games after every team’s season was cut by a quarter, or about two weeks, to save $130,000 annually on busing and coaching. The district trimmed the schedules after students and parents opposed its plan to replace the sports teams with an intramural program, in which students would not have competed against other schools.

Read more HERE

Monday, August 04, 2008


The below is an excerpt from an email I received from Mr. John Halligan regarding a very serious problem among todays youth. Please take a moment to view his web page and video clips.

"On October 7, 2003 I lost my son Ryan to suicide. After a searching his computer's hard drive and logging onto his AOL instant message account, it became clear that my son was bullied and cyber bullied by his middle school peers beyond his capacity to cope. Unfortunately, Ryan did not show his inner pain to his family or to school faculty. None of us had > any idea of his unbearable torment. You probably have heard or read of Ryan's story by now. It was most recently featured on a PBS Frontline episode titled "Growing Up On-line." If you search the web, you will find countless references to our tragic loss. But none, including the Frontline piece tell the complete story."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Open Thread Sunday!

"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. If I missed your questions on another thread, please direct me to them here.

So here you go, give me your feedback.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Four Day School Week

A scheduling strategy that has been adopted by some rural school districts is to drop the fifth day of instruction by adding time to the remaining four weekdays (Yarbrough and Gilman, 2006). A few hundred districts in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have implemented this schedule, primarily for fiscal reasons (cutting down on transportation costs). An unforeseen bonus is that the schedule has unexpected educational and morale benefits for both students and staff.

In Colorado, 52 of the state’s 178 districts have adopted the four-day model. Most of the districts using this calendar were small, serving only one percent of Colorado’s public school students. The Colorado Department of Education found that students, parents, and teachers overwhelmingly favored the shorter week (Dam, 2004). The Colorado study concluded that the effects on student achievement were not as substantial as the financial gain—transportation and food service costs were reduced by 20 percent—with test scores showing that students do “no worse” than those on the traditional five-day schedule (Dam, 2004).

The four-day school week works best in states that allow the option of counting hours and days when meeting the minimum school requirements. Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Virginia have legislative provisions that specifically allow for this schedule.

Read more HERE

Friday, August 01, 2008

With No Frills or Tuition, a College Draws Notice

Published: July 21, 2008

BEREA, Ky. — Berea College, founded 150 years ago to educate freed slaves and “poor white mountaineers,” accepts only applicants from low-income families, and it charges no tuition.

“You can literally come to Berea with nothing but what you can carry, and graduate debt free,” said Joseph P. Bagnoli Jr., the associate provost for enrollment management. “We call it the best education money can’t buy.”

Actually, what buys that education is Berea’s $1.1 billion endowment, which puts the college among the nation’s wealthiest. But unlike most well-endowed colleges, Berea has no football team, coed dorms, hot tubs or climbing walls. Instead, it has a no-frills budget, with food from the college farm, handmade furniture from the college crafts workshops, and 10-hour-a-week campus jobs for every student.

Berea’s approach provides an unusual perspective on the growing debate over whether the wealthiest universities are doing enough for the public good to warrant their tax exemption, or simply hoarding money to serve an elite few. As many elite universities scramble to recruit more low-income students, Berea’s no-tuition model has attracted increasing attention.

Read more HERE