Sunday, December 20, 2009

O'Malley wants to apply in Jan. for U.S. education grants

Governor criticizes Grasmick plan to wait to seek stimulus money
By Julie Bykowicz

December 19, 2009

Gov. Martin O'Malley criticized state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick's decision to delay a request for federal stimulus money for education, saying Friday that he wants Maryland to go after the $150 million next month.

"I find it very unusual that in the area where we're recognized as the best in the nation, that this is the one department that's not applying as aggressively as every other department has for these things," O'Malley said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.

Maryland has been awarded more than $4 billion in stimulus money this year, making it among the most competitive in the nation, O'Malley said.

Read more HERE

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grasmick calls for teacher changes

Linking test scores to teacher performance among proposals

By Liz Bowie
December 11, 2009

Maryland state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick made bold proposals Thursday to alter teacher compensation, tenure and evaluations - changes she said are needed to reform education and position the state to be competitive in applying for $250 million in federal stimulus money.

Speaking at a state school board meeting, Grasmick said the three proposals were sure to spur "lively discussion" in the coming months.

Read more HERE

Monday, December 14, 2009

State school board to review effects of long-term suspensions, expulsions

By Liz Bowie
December 11, 2009

The Maryland state school board is beginning a major review of statewide policies on long-term suspensions and expulsions after concerns over a case involving a student who was suspended for nearly an entire school year without being given any access to public education.

In reviewing the Dorchester County case earlier this year, the state board decided it was deeply concerned by the failure to provide some education to a student during the suspension.

The review comes after the Baltimore school board adopted a hard-line policy giving its CEO the right to permanently expel a student. The CEO can even expel students younger than 16 in some limited circumstances.

Read more HERE

Virginia High School Is Best in the Nation

U.S. News ranks America's Best High Schools for third consecutive year
By Kenneth Terrell
Posted December 9, 2009

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., the top school in U.S. News & World Report's America's Best High Schools rankings, is designed to challenge students. A course load of offerings that include DNA science, neurobiology, and quantum physics would seem to be more than enough to meet that goal. But students and the faculty felt those classes weren't enough, so they decided to tackle another big question: What are the social responsibilities of educated people? Over the course of the school year, students are exploring social responsibility through projects of their own design, ranging from getting school supplies for students with cerebral palsy in Shanghai to persuading their classmates to use handkerchiefs to reduce paper waste. The One Question project demonstrates the way "TJ," as it's referred to by students and teachers, encourages the wide-ranging interests of its students.

Read more HERE

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Notes - Board of Education Meeting, 12/8/09

The Board Meeting on Tuesday, December 8th will be re-broadcast on Channel 96 and is available via webstream at . 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.

Executive session  12 p.m.

Call to order  1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, La Plata High School's JROTC unit

Superintendent's update to the Board - Cunningham read written report

Reports of officers/boards/committees

  • Correspondence/Board member updates - various board members commented on events they have attended in the past month including Stone Senior Interviews, FEA Conference, and Robotics

  • Education Association of Charles County update - Ms. Brown read the written report

  • Student Board member update - Mr. Grusholt read the written report

  • CIP update - see written report; Hand sanitizers in every elementary school home room, in numerous locations in middle and high schools; 265 "educational cottages'

  • Charles County library, CCPS resources for students and parents - See power point presentation. Great media resources available on the web-site (click on Library Media Resources in the center). Students MUST obtain a username and password from their school media specialist.

  • Legislative update - nothing new...budget cuts, shortfall in teacher pension funding by $189,000...the sky is falling, the sky is falling
Unfinished Business
  • Pedersen - What Counts in Education Roundtable Discussion - February 18, 2010, 6:30 pm at Westlake. Need all board members to submit 25-30 names of possible attendees. (Let me know if you're interested)

New business and future agenda items

  • Abell - Review of policy and procedures for early entrance into kindergarten
  • Pedersen - Presentation on diversity

Recognition- 4:30 p.m.

  • Students - James Nichols, Merwan Mourtaj, Harrison Palmer, Jacob Veazey
  • Staff - Janice McGeehan, Rebecca Irwin, Tina Francis, John Lush
  • Maryland Middle School Counselor of the Year - Mattawoman Middle School

Public Forum  6 p.m.

  • No one present

Action items

  • Minutes 11/10/09 & 11/30/09 - Passed unanimously
  • Personnel - Passed unanimously


8 killed, 26 injured in China school stampede

How horrible! I hope this isn't indicative of what happens when you build a "stacked" school!

12/08/2009 2:20:37 AM
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN Associated Press Writer

Eight youths were killed and 26 injured when students descending a crowded staircase after evening classes at a school in central China lost their footing amid a crush of bodies, state media and the local government reported Tuesday.

Students were rushing out of evening study sessions at 9:10 p.m. on Monday (1310 GMT) at Xiangxiang city's private Yucai Middle School when some lost their footing and began to fall on top of one another in a stampede on the steps.

More than 400 students had been exiting classrooms via an enclosed stairwell just 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The dead were listed as seven boys and one girl, aged 11-14, while eight other students were hospitalized with serious injuries, according to a local government notice and the official Xinhua News Agency.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Board of Education Meeting, December 8, 2009

The Board of Education's next monthly meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 8 at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building on Radio Station Road in La Plata. The public portion of the meeting begins at 1 p.m. and Public Forum is at 6 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and rebroadcast throughout the week. All televised Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system Web site at

Executive session  12 p.m.

Call to order  1 p.m.

Pledge of Allegiance, La Plata High School's JROTC unit

Superintendent's update to the Board

Reports of officers/boards/committees

  • Correspondence/Board member updates
  • Education Association of Charles County update
  • Student Board member update
  • CIP update
  • Charles County library, CCPS resources for students and parents
  • Legislative update

Unfinished Business

New business and future agenda items

Recognition- 4:30 p.m.

  • Students
  • Staff
  • Maryland Middle School Counselor of the Year

Public Forum  6 p.m.

Action items

  • Minutes
  • Personnel


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Financial literacy gains traction as part of high school curriculum

By Laura Smitherman

The Baltimore Sun
November 30, 2009

Comptroller Peter Franchot has been going back to high school as part of his push for requiring that seniors take a course in financial literacy in order to graduate.

The proposal for a graduation requirement has met with resistance from lawmakers and educators who are wary of imposing curriculum mandates, but Franchot said the recent recession has convinced him that basic personal finance concepts must be taught. Franchot, the state's chief tax collector, has visited seven high schools since the school year began and plans to push for legislation during the General Assembly session that begins in January.

"Given the hard economic times and all the economic anxiety out there due to people making bad mistakes with debt and credit, I think the timing may be right for a successful initiative," Franchot said. "We need to make sure our young people are prepared with the basic building blocks of financial prosperity."

The Maryland State Department of Education is circulating a draft state curriculum that incorporates personal finance concepts into all grades. For instance, the proposal dictates that by the end of the fifth grade, students would be able to define loans and interest, and by the end of the 12th grade, students would be able to explain how to acquire and maintain credit.

But a separate course required for graduation is not part of the plan. Instead, the department is suggesting curriculum standards and allowing local leaders to choose how to best provide students with financial instruction across the learning levels, either with stand-alone courses or embedded in other courses.

Local school boards also could require financial literacy as a graduation requirement, as has happened in a handful of jurisdictions including Carroll and Allegany counties.

"We just don't want to dictate how it is done at this point," said William Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland education department.

UM system considers toughening math requirements

Applicants would have to take 4th math course, take math in senior year
By Childs Walker
December 1, 2009
The Baltimore Sun

Students applying to state universities would have to take a fourth math course and take math during their senior year of high school under revised requirements to be considered this week by the university system's Board of Regents.

Math skills atrophy in students who don't take a course their senior year, and those students are more likely to need costly remediation in college, said Chancellor William E. Kirwan, a strong proponent of the tougher application requirements.

"Math is not a spectator sport," said Kirwan, a one-time math professor. "If you get away from it for a year, you lose a lot. The research is pretty clear and consistent that it makes a difference to have math your senior year."

The new requirements would ask students to complete Algebra II and if they do so before senior year, to take another course at least as difficult. The changes, crafted in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education, would go into effect for students beginning ninth grade in 2011.

The requirements would align with a national trend toward toughening math standards, part of a larger quest to produce more science, technology, math and engineering, or STEM, professionals. The National Governors Association is leading an effort to develop core standards for high schools across the nation and those standards might include similar math requirements.

Read more HERE.