Hereford Works is a group of parents, students, alumni and other concerned citizens from the Hereford High School community who want input in the high school scheduling options for the 2014-15 school year. The group started from a widely attended HHS PTSA meeting two short months ago. There we learned about mandated changes to Hereford’s schedule. We learned that next year, all high schools must offer students eight credits/year and teachers must teach 6 classes/year as well. At Hereford High, this already happens, but in a semester fashion, and is very successful. Students take four classes during semester one and four during semester two. There are some A/B classes that do run yearlong. These are mostly AP classes. The semester classes meet daily and are 80 minutes in length. Mid-day there is an hour long “enrichment” when students eat lunch, get help from teachers, attend clubs or service organizations, have school assemblies, etc. With a change to an A/B year long schedule, many of the advantages of our current schedule will be eliminated. In addition, high schools are already spending time and resources addressing the recent demands of implementing new curriculum, new teacher evaluation program and adding new technologies.
There was overwhelming criticism by the parents. The PTSA said it was unable to assist the concerned parents. So, parents got together and formed Hereford Works. Hereford Works’ premise is that these changes are “too much at one time”. And the schedule change is unnecessary and detrimental at Hereford. Hereford Works has grown quickly and might be considered the “tip of the spear” for the community as more and more folks learn about the issue and become concerned and active.
As you are aware, members of Hereford Works have spoken at three of the recent BCPS Board of Education meetings. But there was no feedback from the superintendent. Members created a website www.herefordworks.org , created a facebook page (with over 900 likes), and had a letter writing campaign. They have met with two assistant superintendents and school administrators. The basic question is “Why must things change when the current schedule is highly successful?” When we refute their blanket statements, the final answer has been “Now is the time.” Through all this there has been no dialogue or feedback from Dr. Dance. That is hardly a “BCPS collaborative effort”. And we don’t want special treatment, we feel any school that wants to, should have input into changes in their schedule and programs.
As for Hereford, we want our schedule. We hope to make clear to you the many advantages of our schedule and how it works across the entire spectrum of students.
Hereford is not hesitant to change. We are adverse to rushed, inadequately researched, unnecessary change. We can understand Dr. Dance and the board may need to implement dramatic change for dramatic results in under-performing schools. But Hereford is already achieving dramatically high results at the county, state, and national levels. With that consistent level of performance, why not provide the opportunity for other schools, where appropriate, to implement a similar schedule format.
Please do the right thing and let Hereford keep its stellar, time proven schedule until and unless research shows there will be significant improvement for students. The time is now. HHS has just started its student course selection process that will continue until August. It will be easier for admin, teachers, students and parents to go back to last year’s tried and true schedule. Rather, than try to correct the problems that are already arising and will continue to arise throughout the coming school year, as unintended consequences rear their ugly heads.
As stated on the BCPS website,Board of Education has the responsibility and the power to set policy, and you can let our schedule continue! We are concerned the schedule change will significantly impede their academic progress. We have done our research, and we are confident in our position. Our current strategy has been to work cordially and professionally within BCPS. We are determined to stay that course, as long as, we quickly experience forward momentum and continued meaningful dialogue regarding our concerns.