Monthly Archives: March 2014

MD House and Senate Unanimously Approve Hybrid School Board!

Hybrid ApprovedAiring tonight at 10PM!  – Hybrid School Board Bill – JEAN SUDA interviewed by FOX 45 News.
After a vote at the statehouse Baltimore County could soon have a hybrid school board which would include seven elected members, four appointed members and a student member. The Maryland House and Senate unanimously approved the measure on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

It’s a concept that many parents agree with, though some county officials have concerns. Right now there are only three hybrid boards in the state; Caroline County, Harford County and Prince George’s County. The following four boards are appointed by the governor with the recommendation of the county executive; Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Wicomico County and Baltimore County. The other 17 boards in the state are elected. Baltimore County executive Kevin Kamenetz released a statement on Tuesday regarding the elected school board. It reads in part; “The county executive has been consistent for twenty years in his belief that an appointed school board is best for children.” Abby Beytin is the president of the Baltimore County teacher’s union and says her teachers just want change. “The teachers association has resisted taking a position on elected hybrid any type of school board because from all the research we’ve done there is nothing out there that says one school board is better that another,” Beytin said. “I think if we can get some really great officials on then it will be a great school board – if we can’t it will be more of the same.” If the governor signs the bill the new board would be in place by 2018.

 

 

Students Encouraged to Apply for School Board Position

Students: Apply for School Board Position by March 21st!

Applications due March 21
TOWSON, MD. – Baltimore County Public Schools students in Grades 10 and 11 are encouraged to apply to become the student member on the Board of Education of Baltimore County.

The selected student will be an official member of the Board of Education for one year beginning in July 2014. As a board member, the selected student will represent all BCPS students and will vote on all issues except collective bargaining, capital and operating budgets, school openings and closings and boundaries.

Ideal candidates will be in good academic standing and active in their schools and communities. To apply, a student must complete a brief application; write a one-page essay; submit letters of recommendation from his or her principal, school counselor, English teacher, faculty advisor for a school organization in which he or she is involved, and adult advisor for a community group in which he or she is involved; and submit an official school transcript and copy of his or her most recent report card.

The position description, summary of application steps, and application are available online at http://www.bcps.org/students/bcsc/smob.html. Applications are due to the Office of Family and Community Engagement (6901 N. Charles Street, Towson, MD 21204) by Friday, March 21, 2014.

Top candidates will be interviewed on Tuesday, April 8, and the selection committee will recommend a potential nominee for consideration for appointment by the governor.

Visit the BCPS News Center and BCPS News Archive to explore more BCPS news!

 

PARTIALLY ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD BILLS PASSES~ WILL BECOME LAW IN 2018!!

PARTIALLY ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD BILLS PASSES~ WILL BECOME LAW IN 2018!!

Senator Brochin introduced the Hybrid School Board Bill,
SB 290~ it just passed the Maryland Senate 45-0!!

The Hybrid School Board Bill (SB 290) will go into effect in 2018. Starting then, the school board will be comprised of seven elected members, four appointed members, and one student member. The four appointed members will be recommended by a 19-member Nominating Commission, made up of selected organizations with a vested interest in education. The seven elected members will represent each legislative district whose boundaries lie within Baltimore County. This bill is a significant step forward in creating a more responsive and accountable school board in Baltimore County.

Thanks to the hundreds of Hereford Zone Parents and Hereford Works members who wrote hundreds of letters, emails and testified in Annapolis in support of SB290.

SB290 is a huge victory!

Thank you, Senator Brochin for your hard work in getting this bill passed.  We look forward to the future when the Board of Education members will be elected by the stakeholders~ and be accountable to their voters!!

– Dear Dr. Dance –

March 4, 2014
Dear Dr. Dance:
After multiple requests beginning in November, you met with two members of Hereford Works on February 18th to discuss concerns resulting from your hasty decision to change the schedules of eleven top-performing Baltimore County high schools next year. Hereford High School has used a “4X4 semester block” schedule for the past 20 years. This schedule option provides opportunities for all students to meet their full potential. By removing the 4X4 semester block, learning opportunities are being eliminated for all students in Baltimore County because they can no longer accelerate through rigorous courses in their field of interest and focus on in-depth learning for higher retention of subject matter. Your publicized compromise is as unacceptable as your schedule change mandate. It fails to address significant misgivings about the reasons for the reduced schedule options offered to students. You justified this decision by using irrelevant portions of the mobility numbers for Baltimore County.
1. Your administration has repeatedly stated that the issue of mobility was the driving force behind the decision to change high school schedules. In your letter you stated that Hereford High School had a 5% mobility rate and that would translate to 60 students per year. You are incorrect. Only two out of 53 transfer codes apply: entry code 10 (transfer from another BCPS to Hereford High) and exit code 10–T (mid-year withdraw from Hereford High to another BCPS). Using these two codes, our research shows the mobility at Hereford High School for last year is closer to zero. When you extrapolate the two codes relevant to county mobility, every school would have a lower number. To use inaccurate numbers to justify your decision is dishonest and deceitful. (See attachment for detailed transfer codes.)
2. Your letter promises a compromise using flexibility of scheduling for juniors and seniors. This compromise would not benefit freshman, sophomores, future students of our school, or of any other school in Baltimore County. There is no tangible plan in place at Hereford High School to benefit next year’s juniors or seniors either. We are bewildered by a compromise for only juniors and seniors when we made it clear that we are concerned about every student. It is beyond our comprehension why you would think we would settle for a fatuous plan such as this when we’ve had a successful 4X4 semester block schedule for the past 20 years. There is no cost difference between the current schedule and your mandated schedule and the mobility issue is nonexistent. Your scheduling solution lacks thoughtful consideration of the numerous concerns brought to your attention since the announcement of your mandate.
3. In the meeting, Hereford High’s principal suggested having students get on a fast track for math and language in middle school as a remedy for removing the acceleration offered by the 4X4 semester block schedule. It is unreasonable to think that a parent and/or child would be able to plan an academic path through high school when the child is eleven years old. Developmentally, most children are not ready to make such a decision at this early age. Another benefit of our current schedule is that it allows for rapid acceleration once a student has found his niche. And, students in need of remediation can repeat a course and not fall behind due to the genius of our current schedule. Unlike a magnet school, Hereford High does not choose its’ student population.
4. Your administration spent approximately $250,000 on a consultant study and failed to follow their recommendations. We phoned the S3 consulting firm to find out why they recommended the 4X4 semester block schedule be removed as an option for high schools. We were told that they had no intention for that to happen. It is negligent to spend hard-earned tax dollars on a study only to ignore its’ findings.
5. At the February 25th board meeting, Dr. Nancy Hubbard, a world renowned educator, spoke about a global trend in education toward fewer classes being studied at a time, allowing in-depth learning and increased subject-matter retention. Your decision moves BCPS backward by eliminating the schedule option that is garnering accolades around the world. With the schedule change mandate, we are in a “race to mediocrity,” at best.
6. In your State of the Schools address from March 2013 you urged us to “spend time thinking about what we – as Team BCPS members – can do to expand the deliberate excellence of this school system and ensure that it enhances learning for every student.” The schedule change mandate will do just the opposite: narrow the excellence of this school system as students in Baltimore County lose academic opportunities. Tier 1 students (high performing) will lose the only schedule, the “4X4 semester block,” that allows for acceleration into more rigorous academic subjects sooner, according to the S3 report. This is a contradiction of the “culture of deliberate excellence” you so often refer to in BCPS.
7. Tier 3 students (low performing) will be forced into an atmosphere that will be overwhelming. The 4X4 semester block provides an environment that has irrefutable success in dealing with the many complexities of learning disorders and disabilities. The board’s informal motto of “do what’s best for the kids” is being ignored in this decision. Your lack of response, as parents and students plead for a voice for this group of kids, is astounding.
You state in your letter that findings are mixed on the effectiveness of various scheduling options. The research, you say, “is mixed primarily because any schedule is about implementation.” Thousands of stakeholders (students, parents, teachers and principals) have spoken out against the implementation of this schedule change. If you stand by your word of involving stakeholders in decisions that affect them, and that implementation is key; please delay the mandate, allow for stakeholder input, and do the research and educational studies necessary to insure the school system is making the correct decision.
Finally, you write in your letter that “in the end, it is important to remember that what makes a high-performing school has very little to do with the schedule it implements…” We disagree and notice that others do, too. The following groups, comprising 50,000 voices have asked for a delay in the mandate because they believe that a high school schedule and its’ implementation are paramount to a school’s success:
 Bill Lawrence, executive director of CASE (Council of administrative and Supervisory Employees) stated to the board in November, “None of the other initiatives or projects (common core, teacher evaluations, overcrowding) has the disruptive impact of changing a high school schedule.”
 In November, TABCO (Teachers Association of Baltimore County) president, Abby Beytin, asked for a delay in implementation of the schedule change on behalf of 8700 BCPS teachers.
 Within the last two weeks, the PTSA Council of Baltimore County advocated for a delay in the implementation of the schedule change. This motion carries with it the support of 40,000 county-wide PTSA members.
 Members of Hereford Works (which also includes representatives from Towson and Dulaney High Schools and has 1300+ members) raised alarming concerns. You used misleading mobility information to justify your scheduling decision and you disregarded the findings of a $250,000 consultant report which recommended the need for additional research and study.
 Senator Mike Collins, (BOE member) was quoted recently in the Baltimore Sun stating that “the decisions that are being made are very big decisions.” Mr. Collins emphasized that he was speaking for himself, not the board, about these decisions. “They have a dramatic effect on the classroom teacher and the building administrators. There seems to be minimal attempt to gain buy-in from those groups. There are too many things, well-intentioned, that are being done too quickly.”
There is no reason for Baltimore County Public Schools to be going “backward” with scheduling options as we navigate the competitive 21st century educational climate. In the best interest of all students the 4X4 block semester schedule should be placed back “on the table” as an option for all Baltimore County high school students. If this is not an option, we recommend a delay of the implementation of the schedule change mandate until educational impact studies using accurate mobility numbers are completed.
Sincerely,
Wendy Flowers
Hereford Works