Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Takes a Village Just to Watch the Commissioners

Unfortunately, just like it takes a village to raise a too also takes a village to keep our local government in check.  I received a tip to take a closer look at the Commissioners April 25th agenda, specifically on the Budget Report, and even more specifically on the DRRA CashFlow Report.

If you take a close look, there is $6.4M in DRRA funds being used for the Indian Head Science and Technology Park.  Ladies and gentleman, this has NOTHING, not one iota, to do with school seats.  While it is completely under the discretion of the commissioners as to what they spend this money on, the original intent of the DRRA funds WAS for school construction.   In addition, IF i was a developer and had paid DRRA's into this fund with the impression it would be going towards school construction and now it was going towards a Science and Technology Park, I would be furious!  AND, if i was one of those home buyers who in turn had the cost of my house increased because the developer had to in turn roll the cost of that DRRA over into the cost of my home and now it was going to a Science and Technology Park, I would be furious!

In addition, and possibly MORE importantly, it shows that they should have $13M in FY2015 of which they promised the Board of Education on more than one occasion (on camera, I may add)$10M (and may now renege on that promise). Even if they spent the $6.4M on the tech park, they should still have over $7M left to still give the Board of Education.

P.S. and what the heck is $14K in Credit Card Fees....good grief, no wonder the county is in debt!

On the campaign trail....about me

Monday, April 28, 2014

Report: Md. high school graduation rate is 84 percent

April 28, 2014

An annual report on high school graduation says Maryland's high school graduation rate is 84 percent, slightly above the national high school graduation rate.
The "Building a Grad Nation" report released Monday shows that in 2012, the latest year for which data is available, schools nationwide posted the highest graduation rate ever. For the first time, the report says, the national high school graduation rate has hit 80 percent.
In Maryland, the 2012 graduation rate was 84 percent. That's up from 82.8 percent in 2011.
Iowa had the highest high school graduation rate, 89 percent. Nevada had the lowest, 63 percent.
Maryland did see an increase in what the report calls "dropout factories," schools where graduation is not the norm. In 2002 there were 17; in 2012 there were 26.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Using tablets to reach kids with autism

Heather Kelly
April 10, 2014

Two 5-year-old boys, one with autism, were having some friendly playtime when they had a communication breakdown. One boy didn't respond to the other and walked away. The ignored kid got frustrated and pushed over a small staircase, causing the first boy to fall.
Their speech therapist, Jordan Sadler, decided to address the issue by recreating it in an iPad app called Puppet Pals. She restaged the scenario as a movie, even taking photos of the room for the background and of the kids for the characters. Using the app to show an instant replay of the scuffle, Sadler and the kids identified what went wrong and then recreated the scene, this time making better decisions.

Creating custom stories to help kids learn communication skills or understand complex situations is just one of the ways parents, therapists and educators have taken advantage of tablets to work with kids with autism.
How do you communicate with a loved one with autism?
Tablets as tools, not miracles
When the iPad made its debut in 2010, it was hailed as something of a miracle device and there was a rush among parents of kids with autism to get the $499 gadget.
"They were throwing them at their kids expecting miracles, but it didn't happen. The reason is they are tools, not miracles," said Shannon Rosa, an author and former educational software producer who has written about using tablets with her own son, Leo, who has autism. "I think a lot of parents now are more realistic about the level of support that is needed to help kids use them."
Four years later, tablets still play a big role in the autism community. But the expectations for the technology have come down to earth a bit. Now app creators, autism educators and parents are exploring new ways of using tablets and apps to work with the 1 in 68 kids in the U.S. with autism.
They've had time to discover what works best for kids with autism when it comes to tablets. The uses vary from child to child, and often the best apps aren't even created with kids with autism in mind.
Rosa said it allows her son, now 13, to think visually, to interact with content directly without the cognitive hurdle of a mouse, and it breaks complex concepts up into more easily understandable chunks. Siri is even helping him with articulation.
The tablet has also given him more independence. Leo used to have a really hard time figuring out what to do with himself when someone didn't structure his day for him. Now he can use the iPad on his own and have a good time independently. Rosa, though, like many parents, is careful about letting her son have too much screen time.
Sadler gives iPad workshops all over the country, teaching people about the most effective ways to use the device. She tries to move parents away from using mobile devices as a reward, letting children just play games or watch YouTube videos. She encourages parents to seek out dynamic apps that can help with the core challenges of autism while also being fun.
"It's really important to learn and improve social communication skills," said Sadler. "But it has to be something that grabs them."

Read the entire article HERE.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Supreme Court reverses decision that tossed out Michigan’s ban on racial preferences

Robert Barnes and William Branigin
The Washington Post
April 22, 2014

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of racial preferences in university admissions, reversing a lower court decision that had tossed out the prohibition.
By a 6 to 2 vote, the court concluded that neither the Constitution nor Supreme Court precedents provide authority for the courts to overturn Michigan laws that allow the voters to determine whether racial preferences may be considered in decisions such as school admissions.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote an opinion for a plurality in the case, joined by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. filed a concurring opinion, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen G. Breyer separately wrote opinions concurring in the judgment. Scalia’s was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the decision.
An appeals court had said that a Michigan constitutional amendment banning the use of racial preferences in university admissions, approved by 58 percent of the state’s voters in 2006, had restructured the political process in a way that unfairly targeted minorities.
At issue at the Supreme Court was language that says state colleges and universities “shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.”
The amendment was approved by voters after the Supreme Court, in another case from Michigan, in 2003 allowed the limited use of race as part of an “individualized, holistic review of each applicant’s file.”
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which narrowly tossed out the Michigan amendment, ruled that there was a difference between not using affirmative action and banning it in the state constitution. The latter violates the principle that minorities must be allowed to fully participate in creating laws and that “the majority may not manipulate the channels of change so as to place unique burdens on issues of importance to them,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote.
His comparison was that while residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula may lobby decision-makers to grant preferences to their underrepresented students, minority groups would now have to change the constitution before even having a chance to advocate racial considerations because of the amendment.
The case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. Only eight justices decided the case, because Kagan recused herself. As is customary, she gave no reason, but she may have worked on the issue while previously serving as the Obama administration’s solicitor general.
Last term, in a case challenging the University of Texas’s use of race in making some admission decisions, the court declined to revise its holding in a previous case. The justices sent the case back to a lower court for a closer look at whether the university had used all the tools at its disposal to increase racial diversity before resorting to considering race in admissions.
Read the original post HERE.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Letter to the Editor: 3 commissioners wrong on school allocations

April 9, 2014
Southern Maryland Newspapers

I’m writing in reference to the April 2 article, “Commissioners OK school seat allocations,” which states the commissioners approved the January cycle school allocations, which could potentially allow only 32 new homes. On its face, this doesn’t sound too bad, so why such an issue regarding the granting of school allocations? Besides the fact that the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance committee final report to the commissioners is delayed as the article stated, there’s other information the article didn’t discuss.
There are roughly 1,132 previously granted school allocations pending countywide for houses that haven’t yet materialized, representing approximately 546 new students. Developers are sitting on these pending school allocations, supposedly waiting for improved housing market conditions to restart construction. Many of these allocations were granted many years ago and actually should’ve expired years ago if rules were being followed. However, commissioners have been granting extensions every year based on “precedent and current economic trends” as the resolution states and as requested by Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association.
Here’s the problem: 475 of the pending allocations are for projects now in overcrowded school zones. When originally granted, there apparently was capacity in schools for these allocations, but now there isn’t due to multiple school redistrictings and population growth.
Using September 2013 enrollment, our current school situation is that 14 of 21 elementary, three of eight middle and three of six high schools exceed state-rated capacity. Five elementary schools are over local core capacity, meaning that additional school seats in trailers aren’t even enough to hold all students, and four other elementary schools are close to reaching local core capacity. The Charles County Public Schools education facilities master plan projects that the situation will only get worse in coming years.
Maybe allocations shouldn’t be extended beyond their expiration dates. This potentially causes worse overcrowding situations than already exists. Planning for potential new students and building school capacity to match growth can be very difficult, especially when granted allocations aren’t acted on by developers for many years. When the housing market turns and developers redeem old allocations in the backlog, school enrollment will increase.
Obviously, the housing market governs when developers build. However, the commissioners shouldn’t perpetually grant time extensions for allocations. Everybody’s suffered in tough economic times, but why are certain groups receiving special treatment?
At recent school allocation meetings, the board of education expressed significant concerns over old pending allocations, asking the commissioners to defer approving additional allocations. The usual three commissioners ignored the best interests of our county’s students and approved allocations.
Parents, thank Charles County Commissioners Candice Kelly and Ken Robinson and the board of education for their support. It’s clear the other commissioners aren’t interested in what’s best for students, but rather consistently make uninformed decisions benefiting only one entity: developers.
The total disregard of school board advice by these three commissioners concerns me and should alarm every voting citizen. Our youngest residents and teachers are bearing the heavy burden of their decisions.

John Hayes, Waldorf
The writer is a parent member of the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance committee.

Another one bites the dust: South Carolina drops out of Common Core testing group

April 17, 2014
by Ben Velderman

COLUMBIA, S.C. -“ South Carolina's top education leader announced on Monday that the Palmetto State is pulling out of the Common Core standardized testing group, Smarter Balanced.


Superintendent of Education Mick Zais sent a letter to state Board of Education members informing them of the move - after he learned he had the unilateral authority to do make it, reports.

Zais was spurred to action by bills in the state legislature that, among other things, would prevent South Carolina from using the Smarter Balanced tests in schools.

"My recommendation was to get ahead of these actions of the General Assembly and show the members of the General Assembly that we believe exploring assessment options is the most prudent course of action for South Carolina," Zais wrote in the letter.

The state was expected to begin using the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced tests during the 2014-15 school year. South Carolina students will still be tested on the new, nationalized math and English learning standards next year, but they may be given a re-worked version of the current state test or an alternative Common Core-aligned assessment, such as the ACT Aspire test, reports

Read more HERE

Friday, April 18, 2014

Worth your time --

April 1, 2014 Joint Meeting Charles County Board of Education and Commissioners

For all of you concerned about overcrowding and how we fund and build schools, this link (also available from the Charles County Government CCTV Digital Library ) to video specifically addresses what happened with the year's worth of work the APFO Committee did, and what happened to the report that was prepared for the Commissioners by that committee. I know the video is long: if you start at about 37:30, I think you will get a sense of the issue quickly.

APFO/Jt Mtg BoE and CC Commissioners

Federal Court Dismisses Case of Chicago School Teacher Who Was Suspended, Accused of Weapons Possession for Lesson on Wrenches, Pliers

The Rutherford Institute
April 17, 2014

CHICAGO, Ill. — An Illinois federal court has ruled that Chicago school officials did not violate the rights of a second-grade teacher who was charged with possessing weapons on school grounds after he displayed garden-variety tools such as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom as part of his second grade teaching curriculum that required a “tool discussion.” In granting a motion to dismiss the complaint in Douglas Bartlett v. City of Chicago School District #299, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow, Jr., held that school officials at Washington Irving Elementary School acted properly when they applied a definition of “weapons” contained in a student handbook to the actions of teacher Douglas Bartlett.
Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute filed the civil rights lawsuit in April 2013 on behalf of Bartlett, a 17-year veteran in the classroom, who was suspended without pay for four days on the grounds that his use of the tools as visual aids endangered his students, despite the fact that all potentially hazardous items were kept out of the students’ reach.
“In an age where public schools face an unprecedented number of real challenges in maintaining student discipline, and addressing threats of real violence, surely no one benefits from trumped up charges where no actual ‘weapons’ violation has occurred and no threat is posed to any member of the school community,” said John W. Whitehead..."Education truly suffers when school administrators exhibit such poor judgment and common sense, especially when it comes to their zealous misapplication of misguided zero tolerance policies. However, what makes this case stand out from the rest is that this victim of zero tolerance policies run amok happens to be a veteran school teacher.”
Doug Bartlett teaches second graders at Washington Irving Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois. On August 8, 2011, Bartlett displayed several garden-variety tools he used around the classroom, including wrenches, screwdrivers, a box cutter, a 2.25” pocketknife, and pliers, as visual aids for a “tool discussion” which is required by the teaching curriculum. It is common for teachers to use such visual aids to help students retain their lessons. As he displayed the box cutter and pocketknife in particular, Bartlett specifically described the proper uses of these tools. None of the tools were made accessible to the students. When not in use, the tools were secured in a toolbox on a high shelf out of reach of the students.
On August 19, 2011, Bartlett received notice that he was under investigation for, among other things, “possessing, carrying, storing, or using a weapon,” and for negligently supervising children.  Bartlett subsequently received a four-day suspension without pay...
Read the complete article HERE.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

College Board releases preview of new SAT exam questions

Nick Anderson
April 16, 2014
The Washington Post

Attention, high school freshmen. If you’re planning to take the SAT in two years, you probably won’t need to memorize the definitions of words like “obsequious,” “propinquity,” “enervation” or “lachrymose.”
But you will need to be alert to the several possible definitions of words such as “intense.” In a given passage, does it mean emotional, concentrated, brilliant or determined? You might also face challenges related to historical documents, such as decoding President Abraham Lincoln’s multiple uses of the word “dedicate” in the Gettysburg Address.
This new method of assessing vocabulary, among the most prominent revisions to the SAT on display for the first time Wednesday, shows how the dreaded college admission test will change in early 2016. Once billed as a gauge of college “aptitude,” with roots in the controversial practice of testing people for their “intelligence quotient,” the SAT now is marketed as a measure of high school achievement.
The College Board, which oversees the SAT, said the exam will be more straightforward but remain rigorous. Whether students will see it that way, especially those taking the current version this year and next, is another question.
“The word on the street with my kids, the ones I’m working with now, is, ‘Drat, they’re making the test easier. Why don’t I get that opportunity?’ ” said Ned Johnson, a test-preparation consultant to students in the Washington area. “That’s the perception.”
The revisions, announced in broad terms in March, were fleshed out in detail Wednesday as the College Board released draft sample questions and a new framework for the 88-year-old test. They come as the SAT has been losing market share to the rival ACT, a trend especially striking after the College Board added a required essay to the SAT in 2005. The number of students taking the SAT declined in 29 states from 2006 to 2013, a Washington Post analysis found, while the number taking the ACT fell in just three states. The ACT, launched in 1959, has long described itself as an achievement test tied to the nation’s high school curriculum.
The SAT remains the leading admission test in the District, Maryland and Virginia, as well as in many states in the Northeast and on the West Coast. But the ACT, which added an optional essay in 2005 but otherwise has been largely unchanged for the past 25 years, has boomed in many SAT strongholds and is now more widely used nationwide.
The revisions appear to echo, in part, concepts embedded in the new Common Core standards for what U.S. students should learn in math and English from kindergarten through 12th grade.  [Emphasis added.  This is important to know, parents!  Common Core standards, despite criticism, will impact our students.]  Those standards have been fully adopted in 45 states and the District. David Coleman, the College Board’s president and chief executive, was a key architect of Common Core. He started pushing for a makeover of the admission test soon after taking office in 2012.
 The essay will take 50 minutes, instead of 25. Even though the essay will become optional, some colleges are likely to require it. The major change is that the essay will ask students to analyze a given argument rather than take a stance on a question. The College Board said students might be prompted to respond to a passage comparable to an excerpt from poet Dana Gioia’s essay on “Why Literature Matters.”
In math, students will have 80 minutes to answer 57 questions. Most are multiple-choice; some require students to provide answers themselves. The new math section will be 10 minutes longer and, unlike the current version, will require students to put away their calculators for 25 minutes.
“The calculator is a tool that students must use (or not use) judiciously,” the College Board said in a document explaining the changes to the test. The new exam focuses more tightly on algebra, problem solving, data analysis and “passport to advanced math,” which includes analyzing and solving quadratic and higher-order equations. The test also contains geometry and trigonometry.
The changes amount to a substantial overhaul of a test that for millions of Americans was a rite of passage. Critics say that the SAT and the ACT are needless barriers to access and that high school grades are a better way to measure academic potential. A growing number of colleges don’t require admission tests, but most selective schools do.
Read Anderson's full blog post HERE.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Police: (Pennsylvania) School stabber apparently behind threats

JA--It does not matter how a threat of harm to someone is made, everyone.  It does not require the use of modern technology; it also, as quite clearly proved in this instance, does not require the use of a firearm.  Anyone intent on harming others WILL.  
If you have a concern about threatening comments or conduct that may impact students or schools, do not ignore it.  Contact any school staff member or the police -- we ALL want our schools to be safe! 

Gene Puskar
April 14, 2014

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- Detectives believe a boy charged with stabbing 21 other students and a security guard at his Pittsburgh-area high school threatened two students by phone before the attack.
The reference to the threatening phone messages and completed calls is contained in a search warrant affidavit. Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck says neither student was among the victims in Wednesday's attack at Franklin Regional High School.
County detectives got the warrant for the home of Alex Hribal (RY'-bal). He is charged as an adult with four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault.
Two parents who chatted with reporters Monday, said their children were eager to get back to school.
"That's where he wants to be, to be with his friends," Jeff Mauro said of his son, Jamie, a ninth-grader who witnessed some of the stabbings. "This has been a learning experience that we have to love each other - all of us."
Once that happens, Thomassey will ask a Westmoreland County judge to move the case to juvenile court, a move prosecutors are expected to contest. Thomassey said that request will be based largely on a mental health evaluation by a doctor he's hired.

Read full article HERE.

Dutch teen ARRESTED over 'joke' bomb tweet threat to American Airlines


  • The girl took to Twitter on Sunday after tweeting an apparent terror threat
  • She has been arrested after the tweet and her ensuing meltdown went viral
  • Dutch authorities say she handed herself in at a police station in Rotterdam
  • They are questioning her before deciding whether to bring charges

  • A Dutch teen at the centre of an airline bomb hoax scare has been arrested in Rotterdam.
    Twitter user @QueenDemetriax, who calls herself Sarah on the website, sent an apparently threatening tweet to American Airlines on Sunday morning and within minutes received a reply from the airline saying her IP address had been forwarded to the FBI.
    Dutch police have today confirmed they have arrested a 14-year-old over the incident, which saw the girl inundated with angry messages.
    Roland Ekkers, a spokesman for Rotterdam police, told MailOnline officers in the city had launched an investigation into the tweet after it was reported around the world.But before detectives could track the girl down, she walked into a police station accompanied by a family member.
    Speaking this afternoon, Mr Ekkers said: 'Police spoke to prosecutors to decide whether we could arrest her and, after some deliberation, we decided that we could arrest her and she has been arrested.
    'She is now being interviewed by specially-trained officers who are used to speaking to young offenders.'
    Mr Ekkers said the girl has not been charged with any offence, but could face charges related to 'making false threats'.
    The arrest comes after 'Sarah', the name used by the girl on Twitter, tweeted on Sunday: ‘Hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.’
    The airline quickly replied: ‘Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.’
    The girl then pleaded with the airline, saying she’s only 14-years-old and from the Netherlands, that she’s never been to Afghanistan.
    ‘What do you want from me?’ She pleaded. But it was to no avail, the airline did not reply.
    ‘I’m so sorry I’m scared now.’ she wrote. ‘I was joking and it was my friend not me, take her IP address not mine.’
    Read full article HERE.

    Teen suicide: Adults need to listen to kids, and it’s time to talk about the issue

    Petula Dvorak, Columnist
    April 14, 2014
    The Washington Post

    Suicides, for the most part, remain in the shadows.
    Unless the dead person was famous or the death occurred in a public place, the suicide is seldom noted.
    Friends and relatives don’t necessarily want to talk about it, even though suicide is the third-leading cause of death among American teens.
    Let a kid be killed for the shoes on his feet or die while texting and driving, and there are rallies and reports, soul-searching and studies.
    But suicide? Shh.
    In Fairfax County, where two of the Washington area’s top high schools have each had two boys kill themselves in a span of 48 hours this year, families, kids and schools are beginning to talk.
    Schools are holding assemblies and seminars. Parents are urging mental health screenings. One school is even trying milk-and-cookie breaks to soothe frazzled teens.
    “We absolutely have a responsibility to examine this as closely as possible to understand why this has continued to happen in one particular high school at this rate,” Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin — whose Braddock District includes W.T. Woodson High School and whose two sons attend the school — told The Washington Post’s Justin Jouvenal and T. Rees Shapiro. “It’s simply too high.”
    Woodson has had six suicides — all boys — in the past three years.
    At George Washington University, two male freshmen and a female senior killed themselves this year.
    Langley High School had two suicides back to back in February, and they devastated students. Families held an impromptu gathering at McLean Bible Church the night after the second suicide, where kids, moms and dads hugged and cried.
    “We have to pull ourselves out of this pit now,” said one of the students who went on the stage and took the microphone. He was among a group of boys who openly talked about pain, love, anger and fear in a huge auditorium of people.
    They were showing other boys how to talk, to feel and to survive.
    Most of the kids understood exactly how the boys who took their lives felt.
    “Stress, there’s just so much stress,” one sophomore told me.
    The suicide rate for Virginia is on the low side when you look at the rest of the country. That’s little comfort to the kids and families at these schools. There, the numbers are extremely high, and the students are devastated.
    The county must also contend with the huge number of students who consider or attempt suicide.
    In a 2011 Fairfax County youth survey, 19.6 percent of girls said they considered suicide, and 4.7 percent said they attempted it.
    Nearly 12 percent of boys said they have considered suicide, and almost 3 percent said they tried unsuccessfully.
    But in the past decade, boys have steadily been more successful than girls at killing themselves, at a 4 to 1 rate, nationally.
    Boys don’t always talk about their feelings. No surprise there. None of the families or friends who talked to The Post about the high school suicides said they saw them coming.
    The boys in those Northern Virginia high schools were, for the most part, pretty successful in sports, school and their social circles. It was heartbreaking to read some of the boys’ tweets and Facebook posts, in which they posed with cars and girls, smiling and laughing, giving no indication of the dark clouds gathering inside their heads.
    It’s a complex problem, with mental health issues, hormones, and social and academic pressures that make survival of the teen years almost a miracle. I know very few folks who look back fondly on those years.
    Teen suicide wasn’t as prevalent in the 1950s. Most suicides then were by adults.
    But after the ’50s, the rates spiked and kept climbing, tripling by 1990. Meanwhile, adult suicide dropped, according to an analysis, Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide, written in 2001 by David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser and Karen E. Norberg.
    What has changed in our society that leads so many teens to believe they can’t go on?
    Maybe we have painted futures so bright they have blinded these maxed-out children.
    Jack Chen, the Fairfax Station 15-year-old who stepped in front of a commuter train on Feb. 26 to end his life, said he wanted to be a professor and have four kids. But that brilliant future seemed exhausting to him in the note he left behind.
    “There is too much stress in my life from school and the environment it creates, expectations for sports, expectations from my friends and expectations from my family,” Jack wrote.
    The people in the Northern Virginia high schools talk about the crushing stress kids are under, loading up on advanced classes, winning at sports, piling on extracurricular activities.
    Teens at the region’s best high schools said they get only four to five hours of sleep every night.
    Meanwhile, Ivy League universities trumpet their rejection rates.
    Stop and really listen to the teens in our gold-plated Zip codes. Some of them are miserable.
    And why boys?
    We don’t want our boys to talk about their feelings, to look weak. Maybe that’s why so few admit to thinking about suicide yet so many do it.
    About 4,600 people between the ages of 10 and 24 kill themselves annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, 1,386 between the ages of 13 and 18 killed themselves.
    It’s time to talk about that and time to let boys grab a microphone and tell everyone how they feel.
    And most important, adults need to listen to them.

    Read original post HERE.

    Sunday, April 06, 2014

    NSBA Conference: Student Achievement Through Empowering Teacher Leadership

    New professional teaching standards expect teachers to demonstrate leadership in the classroom, school, district and profession.  North Carolina's Asheboro City Schools will share their journey in developing a Teacher Leadership Academy designed to build leadership skiills and capacity for all teachers.  In its fourth year, the academy is having a powerful impact on professional practice.  This session optimizes conditions for empowering leadership with practical information for developing a local academy.

    This is something I also loved and would like to implement in our district. I can see where it would increase networking and collaboration among teachers, as well as re-energize or motivate those that maybe feeling stagnant or burned out.  Provides necessary additional skills for leadership positions in key roles and methods of communication.

    NSBA Conference: Promoting the Arts Amidst Challenges to Public Education

    Creating a school for integrated arts can attract a group of learners often disengaged by traditional curriculum.  A program integrating music, art, drama, and dance/movement as instructional techniques into the core curricular subjects appeals to many students who learn in non-traditional ways.  Integrated Arts focuses on instructional methods in the process of learning rather than performance.  One key result has been academic success.  Kokomo Center School Corporation's program provides an additional choice for parents and students and can boost enrollment.

    Nice concept, ideas, and I love it.  I'm thinking we could probably implement something similar on a smaller scale into the existing curriculum or into individual IEPs.  Maybe just another tool in the toolbox for the students we can't seem to reach.  However, this did get me to thinking AGAIN about how bad we need a magnet school for the ARTS in Charles's past due.

    NSBA Conference: Superintendent Evaluations: A Positive Experience

    School boards across the country tyoically must evaluate their superintendents yearly.  Often this is a contractual requirement.  Board members are frequently unclear about the procedure and purpose of evaluations, and many are overwhelmed by this task.  The evaluation process should, however, be a useful experience for all involved and result in better governance and leadership of the school district.  In this session, experience school attorneys will explain the evaluation process and discuss effective evaluation techniques.

    Didn't really learn anything new here.  We have a detailed Goals and Objectives job description. 

    NSBA Conference: The End of Education as We Know It!

    This session highlighted the paradigm shift presently underway in Kentucky's Taylor County School District that is enabling all district schools to move to a 24/7, 36-day per year, standards based educational experience.  Creative technology is used to personalize coursework and advance students based on their mental capacity rather than chronological age.  The district's mission to empower all students has resulted in zero dropouts for four consecutive years.

    While I really liked this session, I'm not sure this method would work for Charles County.  Taylor County is comprised of approximately 2,600 students and Charles County has well over 26,000.  Mr. Cook (superintendent of that district) spoke on how he retains quality teachers and those not with the program move on.  The students get out of school 2 hours early every Friday in order for the teachers to have a two hour professional learning community.

    Brochure - Here

    Wednesday, April 02, 2014

    National School Board Association Conference

    I'll be attending the conference later this week in New Orleans.  Last year I was able to attend several sessions on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and bring information back to Charles County.  We are now in the process of implementing our own BYOD policies.  YAY!

    What would you like for me to attend sessions on this year?  Let me hear you.

    Here is a link to the conference web site.

    Tuesday, April 01, 2014

    Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 4/1/14

    The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, April 1 will be re-broadcast on Comcast Channel 96, Verizon FIOS Channel 12 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, Westlake High School JROTC

    Superintendent’s update

    Correspondence/Board Member updates
    • (having technical difficulties during this time and did not get everyone's updates; basically attending DI, Senior Prom, touring St. Charles High School, Candidate's Forum)
    Education Association of Charles County update - not in attendance; not report

    Student Board Member update
    Student athletes grade-point average
    CIP update
    Overview of TEAM’s Dashboard
    Budget update

    Board policy on student discipline
    Legislative update
    • SB779/HB1198 - Shifts burden of proof; house trying to add amendments; optimistic
    • SB232/HB727 - Prevailing wage bill; still in session
    • Liquor Bill for Charles County passed
    • SB332/HB297 - Grant for Pre-K; passed both
    • HB571 - school counselor...still in house.
    Unfinished business
    • Today, State Superintendent Lillian Lowery granted Charles County Public Schools a three-day waiver, two days short of the five the system requested. Schools will open for two days during spring break – Monday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 15. Schools will be closed for spring break April 16-21 and reopen on Tuesday, April 22. Administrative offices are closed Friday, April 18 and Monday, April 21.
    New business - none

    Future agenda items - none

    Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
    • Students - Veronica Rodriquez, 5th grade, Career Readiness, C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School; Georgia Gordon, 5th grade Personal Responsibility, Indian Head Elementary School; Grady Klaas, 5th grade, Career Readiness, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School; Tyler Whitsett, 8th grade, Academic Achievement, Theodore G. Davis Middle School; Michael Rowley, 12th grade, Academic Achievement, Westlake High School
    • Staff - Anne S. Zabel, instructional assistant, Barnhart; Angela R. McDonald, secretary to the principal, Indian Head; Darlene M. Denny, secretary to the principal, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy; Jennifer R. Posey, science teacher, Davis; Zohra Cherif, social studies teacher, Westlake
    • Resolutions: Teacher Appreciation Week; Administrative Professionals Week; Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week; and National Physical Education and Sport Week.
    Public Forum – 6 p.m.
    • Jonathan Koper - residential broadband access & teacher expectations; download limitations; security improvements in school, not enough done, only reactionary to incidents.  Needs more done.  Child at T. C. Martin.  Chess Tournament last year at Stone.  Sponsored karate event at the school at the same time.  Weapons violation at the school in Code 4-102. 

    Action items
    • Minutes
    Motion to accept the Minutes by Cook; Second by Pedersen
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade
    • Personnel
    Motion to accept the Personnel by Abell; Second by Cook
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade
    • 2015-16 calendar
    Motion to accept the Calendar by Pedersen; Second by Cook
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade
    • Ninth grade Earth science textbook
    Motion to accept the Earth Science Book by Abell; Second by Lukas
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade
    • Middle school health textbooks
    Motion to accept the Health textbooks by Abell; Second by Pedersen
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade
    • High school government textbook
    Motion to accept the Government textbooks by Lukas; Second by Cook
    Yes = All; Absent = Wade