Friday, May 30, 2014

My Stance on Education in the Western Side of the County

This post stems from a question I received on my Facebook Page.
"Why are the schools on the western side of the county rated the worst. Is because the board sends the worst of the worst there?"

I'm perplexed by this question.  Lackey's engineering program is highly respected.  Smallwood's and Lackey's MESA teams placed high in the county competition every year.  In fact, Lackey took first place this year.  The top place fifth grader in the county math competition was from Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy.  There are other significant achievements I could list, but i would rather you tell me why you feel the way you do.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Stance on the School Calendar

This post stems from a question I received on my Facebook Page.

"What about how to add more snow days/inclement weather days to the school calender? When we don't have enough, we have to add days to the school year. How about adding them now and if we don't need/use them school ends sooner? Just a thought."

The state requires 180 days per school year of student instruction.  We currently have four inclement weather days (we use to have 5) built into the calendar. If they are not used, they will be deducted from the end of the school year. If you look at your school calendar for the month of June, you see the four days indicated.  We had an unusual winter by any ones standards and that harsh weather caused conditions requiring the use of more than four inclement weather days.  In my ten years on the board (if my memory serves me correctly), this is the first year, other than 2002 when we had the tornado, that these four days were not sufficient.  In 2002 we applied for a waiver and was granted the waiver of making up the additional days because 1) we had a state of emergency in Charles County, and 2) it happened at the end of April (hence after Spring Break) and there wasn't any other days to use to make it up.  (all of our snow days were used). This year, we used our four snow days at the end of the year and had to make up additional days.  Even though we applied to the state for a waiver, because we still had Spring Break days to use, we were denied.

All in all, i know its unfortunate for those planning vacations, etc but our overall goal is to educate the students.  In all future calendars, the Spring Break section of the calendar will be more clearly identified as "TENTATIVE" or "PENDING". 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Stance on the Teaching of Creationism & Evolution

Time and time again this topic has been a political "hot button" for education campaigns.

As it relates to the public school setting, I support the teaching of evolution in science and creationism in a study of world religions or even world history involving different cultures and religions. The public school setting is a diverse community—there are devout Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, pagans, atheists and agnostics. Students, as well as staff, should be educated on and respect the varying belief systems. No one should ever be condemned, embarrassed, or bullied because of what he or she does, or does not, believe in.    I believe all of these belief systems contribute to the study of world history – wars have been fought and cultures have changed.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Stance on Common Core Curriculum

My stance on the highly controversial "Common Core Curriculum" is not necessarily black and white because I believe there is alot of misconception. In addition, the old saying of "you can't believe everything you read on the internet holds quite true. The numerous emails. links, videos, etc., i have received against the Common Core Curriculum, cite other states, other systems, etc. We (CCPS) cannot be held accountable for the how and why the standards are implemented in other areas, or the curriculum they are teaching. Hopefully, my explanation below will help clarify. If it doesn't, I'll try again and as always I'm open to suggestions.
To start with, I was one of the board members voting "No" from the the very beginning for the Race To the Top grant back in March of 2010.  This grant obligated CCPS to proceed and implement, with the assistance of federal funding, what is now known as the "Common Core Curriculum.” 

With that being said, (and noting the EACC was adamantly against Race To The Top also), I was in the minority and the proposal passed, funds were received, RTTT was initiated and implementation began.  Our system became one of the "lucky" few to be guinea pigs and receive federal funding.

While I was being sarcastic with the word "lucky" above, as "luck" would have it, we later discovered,  the local school systems still retained control over the actual curriculum and implementation.  The mandates only pertain to the actual "Standards" that must be met by each student (and later teachers evaluated).  How we achieve those "Standards" is up to the individual system.  Hence CCPS has modified the curriculum, for what is best for our students to achieve those mandated standards.

The concerns about the new Common Core curriculum are not limited to Charles County – they are nationwide concerns by both parents and educators.  It is change, and change is always difficult.  We need to focus on our students achieving the standards– and with a positive attitude – to the extent that we are able…and voice all the concerns – whether about funding, resources, implementation, content, etc. to CCPS in a collaborative fashion.  

The MSTA Legislative priorities states:
“Poorly planned implementation of new curriculum, student assessments, educator evaluations, and school accountability systems are all hitting at one time. This tsunami of education reforms threaten the pillars of our world-class schools. While accountability and student achievement are important goals, we cannot let unproven and unreliable testing and evaluation systems punish our teachers and principals, unfairly label our students and schools, and usurp local school systems’ abilities to make policy decisions that work for their communities.”

All of these are valid concerns, but I want to be sure that we set an example for students, parents, and staff too – that we will approach change with an open mind and strive to succeed and meet the standards, and be positive about it.  Failure is guaranteed – for everyone – if we dig in, refuse to try, and not work collaboratively.  We MUST listen to our teachers and our administrators about the handicaps they face in trying to meet these standards.  At the same time, we MUST listen to our parents and students about their concerns and obstacles being faced with the achievement of the standards.   Working collaboratively together, altering the curriculum to the needs of our local community and working toward solutions at the local, state and national level will ensure the success we all want for our students.

In closing, as I previously stated, my answer isn't neceessarily black and white.  Am I against Common Core Curriculum.  Yes.  However, I want to make it very clear....the Common Core Curriculum is NOT what is taught in Charles County Public Schools.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Notes from Board of Education Meeting, 5/13/14

The Board of Education Meeting on Tuesday, May 13 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 – 11:30 a.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School JROTC

Recognition of 2013-14 student liaisons

Superintendent’s update

Correspondance/Board Member updates
  • Pedersen - Safety in Schools; Resource officers presentation
  • Bowie - Conference sessions on immigration, smart snacks in school, music in elementary schools; Summer Library Reading Program
  • Lukas -Financial Literay Course over the summer; Conference sessions
  • Wise - Elementary math challenge; AP Pep Rally at Westlake; Somers Recognition
Education Association of Charles County update
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Commissioners public forum, helping Lifestyles, support staff helps the teachers - hopes the newly elected board members believes as the current board does, it takes ALL to make the system work.  Steps need to be given.
Student Board Member update
 CIP update
 GWWO school survey presentation
Digital radio updateProject Graduation
Educational Facilities Master Plan
Principal evaluations

 Advanced Placement test
  • AP_Proposal.pdf (265 KB)
  • students will pay for all AP test, which are now optional but if passing grade is received (3 or better), CCPS will reimburse full amount
  • students in need of financial assistance will still be assisted
Legislative update
  • HB209/SB203 - increase board salary; passed
  • HB1167/SB - (couldn't get)
  • HB1164/SB674 - establishes work group college and career standards
  • HB265 - how to approve student achievement in middle school; come back in December
  • HB198/SB779 - Burden of proof bills did not pass
  • HB1181/SB1166 - Sunset Labor Relations Board
  • HB812 - requires defibrillators in middle schools
  • HB??? - CPR and defribillator instruction in middle schools
  • HB1332 - Task Force to study sports injuries of females
  • HB883 - Task Force to study Safe and Healthy School Hours
Board policies on nondiscrimination
Unfinished business - none

New business - none
Future agenda items
  • Lukas - Review of Policy 5126

Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Staff
  • Resolutions: Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award – Kristin Shields, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School
Public Forum – 6 p.m.

Action items
  • Minutes
  • Personnel
  • Board policy on student discipline

Commissioners Get Hands Slapped By State Again! SURPRISED? NO!

Please see the letter below, received by the Board of Education today from Dr. Lever, Executive Director of the Interagency Committee on School Construction.  The county is set to lose funding for all future school construction and renovation projects, thanks to the commissioners actions...oops, no, I'm sorry, due to the commissioners INACTIONS.

Letter from Dr. Lever

Monday, May 12, 2014

Board Seeks Ethics Panel Members


The Board of Education of Charles County is looking for applications from county residents interested in serving on the Charles County Board of Education Ethics Panel.

The Board will be appointing new members in July to the all-volunteer, five-member panel, which interprets ethics regulations and provides advisory opinions to Board Members and employees subject to the regulations. The panel also reviews complaints concerning any alleged ethics violation and receives and maintains all forms required to be filed under the ethics regulation. Ethics panel members meet at least once annually to review disclosure forms and as necessary to respond to inquiries.

Members of the Charles County Board of Education Ethics Panel must be eligible to vote in Charles County; and one member of the panel must be an attorney licensed to practice in the state of Maryland but who is not considered to be the Ethics Panel’s attorney.

Panel members may not be current members of the Board of Education; candidates for the Board; officials, employees, contractors or students of Charles County Public Schools; owners of or persons employed by a business entity doing business with the Board; any person registered with the Board as a lobbyist; or spouses of such persons.

Panel members serve four-year terms and may be reappointed. Anyone interested in serving on the panel should send a letter of interest and resume to Board Chairman Roberta Wise, Charles County Board of Education, Ethics Panel, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646, by May 2.

Shame on Eicholtz! & School APFO Committee Report Presentation, 5/13/14

This report and presentation to the commissioners will FINALLY take place (fingers crossed) tomorrow, Tuesday, 5/13/14 at 5:15 pm after much delay.  You can view the full report and briefing materials below.

Note:  I think it's ironic, no maybe that's not the word for it....WRONG!  Yep that's the word for it, that Mr. Eicholtz attended most of the committee meetings over the past year and knew exactly the recommendations the committee was going to be recommending as a means of solving the school funding issue.  The items we were putting forth would restrict these funds for school construction and renovation.  THEN, just  a week before our much delayed presentation, Mr. Eicholtz presents the county budget with a majority of the VERY SAME recommendations (according to the INDY) for solving the overall county budget with the funds being unrestricted.  After over a year of this committee working diligently to come up with solutions, Mr. Eicholtz takes our hard work and presents them as his own solutions for the overall budget.  UNRESTRICTED.  (TSK! TSK! SMH!)  Too bad his position isn't an elected position!

School APFO Briefing
School APFO Committee Final Report

REMINDER: Board of Education Meeting, 5/13/14

The Board of Education’s next monthly meeting is Tuesday, May 13 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 student and staff recognition starts at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is televised live on Comcast Channel 96 and Verizon FiOS Channel 12 and is rebroadcast throughout the week. Board meetings are also streamed live on the school system website at Select CCPS TV and then choose the Live Broadcast tab. The following is a tentative meeting agenda and is subject to change.

Executive session – 11:30 a.m.

Call to order – 1 p.m. - Pledge of Allegiance, Henry E. Lackey High School JROTC

Recognition of 2013-14 student liaisons

Superintendent’s update

Reports of officers/boards/committees

  • Correspondence/Board Member updates
  • Education Association of Charles County update
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees update
  • Student Board Member update
  • Project Graduation
  • Principal evaluations
  • CIP update
  • GWWO school survey presentation
  • Digital radio update
  • Educational Facilities Master Plan
  • Advanced Placement test
  • Legislative update
  • Board policies on nondiscrimination
Unfinished business

New business and future agenda items

Recognition – 4:30 p.m.
  • Students
  • Staff
  • Resolutions: Washington Post Distinguished Educational Leadership Award – Kristin Shields, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School
Public Forum – 6 p.m.

Action items
  • Minutes
  • Personnel
  • Board policy on student discipline