Who Let the Dogs Out?

 

Our board of education in Baltimore County has a mandate and that is to provide goverance to the administration of the school district.  This is to ensure high quality education outcomes for all students.

Earlier this week, at the BOE’s meeting on Tuesday August 21, once again, the plans for a reorganization were delivered to Board members the same day the vote was to be taken. board members, past and present, have raised concerns about the short notice that BCPS gives the board when an important topic must be voted on and approved.  Voting on and approving plans brought forward by BCPS leadership is part of the goverance that the BOE is responsible for.

There is NO obstructionism in asking questions or clarification about the details of plans requiring a vote. If we were to follow Board Member Uhlfedler’s vision of the board, in esssence to go along with all requests and plans, the question that begs an answer is: why do we need the board?

In the video linked below, we can clearly hear Mr. Uhlfelder chiding and baiting the other board members who take their role of goverance very seriously.  Finally, after going on at length about. “obstructionists”, another board member spoke up. Did Mr. Uhlfelder have the floor? Yes, but under the leadership of Chairman Giliis, the practice of speaking up to other board members who have the floor, is rather common.  A strict Robert’s Rules of Order atmosphere has always been lacking under Chairman Giliis.

Mr. Uhlfeder’s behavior was nothing short of rude, disrespecful and dysfuncional.   Chairman Giliis’ mute reaction, followed by a quick rap of the gavel,  leave much to be desired in the way of leadership.  Silence gives consent.

Watch the Video

 

To view the meeting in its entireity, https://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/bcps/Board.nsf/Public

To view the discussion which prompted Mr. Ulhfelder’s outburst, begin at  1:23:00

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Testing Overload

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Our children and teachers are on testing overload.  There is a better way.   Jonathan Roland, a teacher in Baltimore County has been tirelessly advocating for serious testing reform.  Please read his message below and share it far and wide.  Our children deserve so much more than they are getting in the current educational climate.  Jonathan’s message:

Do you believe that Maryland’s current state public school testing program takes valuable time away from teaching and learning and creates undue stress for educators and students?

Do you want the candidates to debate PARCC, MISA, New Meridian and the future of testing at the upcoming Gubernatorial debates?

I am a public school teacher who believes that everyone in Maryland should at least know that:

  • MSDE testing far exceeds what is required by Federal Law,
  • Maryland has the option of replacing ALL of the public school testing with one of many established, national, time-limited, reliable paper and pencil assessments like non-public schools choose to use,
  • If we don’t drastically change course now, New Meridian, the current owners of the PARCC questions, will begin developing and field-testing computer-adaptive Maryland tests to replace PARCC, which after five years of development and field-testing still fails 60% of Maryland students (bpw.maryland.gov/MeetingDocs/2018-Mar-28-Transcript.pdf , page 31–45).

I hope that as a parent, teacher or Maryland voter you are concerned about this issue. I apologize if you don’t want this email; please forgive me.

If, however, you do wish to take action then contact Governor Hogan, 410-974-3901 or Candidate Jealous, https://www.facebook.com/benjealous/ and tell them that this issue is important to you.

Let other people know too.  Voters could change the course of testing in Maryland during this brief, pre-election window.

Thank you,  – Jonathan Roland, BCPS teacher

P.S.  I would be happy to provide you with more information, including a copy of the March 16, 2018 letter from the U.S. Department of Education urging Maryland to implement tests that are worth taking, time-limited, fair, transparent, reliable and sensitive to cognitive processes.

Do you want the candidates to debate PARCC, MISA, New Meridian and the future of testing at the upcoming Gubernatorial debates?

 

I am a public school teacher who believes that everyone in Maryland should at least know that:

  • MSDE testing far exceeds what is required by Federal Law,
  • Maryland has the option of replacing ALL of the public school testing with one of many established, national, time-limited, reliable paper and pencil assessments like non-public schools choose to use,
  • If we don’t drastically change course now, New Meridian, the current owners of the PARCC questions, will begin developing and field-testing computer-adaptive Maryland tests to replace PARCC, which after five years of development and field-testing still fails 60% of Maryland students (bpw.maryland.gov/MeetingDocs/2018-Mar-28-Transcript.pdf , page 31–45).

I hope that as a parent, teacher or Maryland voter you are concerned about this issue. I apologize if you don’t want this email; please forgive me.

If, however, you do wish to take action then contact Governor Hogan, 410-974-3901 or Candidate Jealous, https://www.facebook.com/benjealous/ and tell them that this issue is important to you.

Let other people know too.  Voters could change the course of testing in Maryland during this brief, pre-election window.

Thank you,  – Jonathan Roland, BCPS teacher

P.S.  I would be happy to provide you with more information, including a copy of the March 16, 2018 letter from the U.S. Department of Education urging Maryland to implement tests that are worth taking, time-limited, fair, transparent, reliable and sensitive to cognitive processes.

You can contact Jonathan at: teacherjonathanroland1@gmail.com

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TABCO and Fake News

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Several weeks back I posted a screenshot of a BCPS budget document on the Facebook ABC Schools group page which caused a stir about how health care benefits are funded.  There was a sentence in the document that we found alarming.  “The General Fund portion of the County’s budget increases by $28.3 million or 4.3%, largely due to personnel expenses, new funding for the S.T.A.T. program and funding for curriculum materials.  These increases are significantly offset by the elimination of healthcare retiree funding, which totaled $25 million in FY 2018. ” (see highlighted area of document above)

Questions to BCPS HR initially were unanswered.  As retirees, this made us uneasy.  Why couldn’t anyone at BCPS explain the situation?  Seeking clarification, we contacted David Marks, our county councilman and later a statement was made by HR that BCPS is “fully committed to funding our retiree benefits”.

TABCO, much later, in an attempt to reassure teachers and retirees, published an article called “The Truth vs. Fake News.” The article states that “the money is still there, just switched to another account,”.  It all sounds very reasonable, except for the fact that when the issue came to light and was questioned, BCPS did not have answers readily available.  This made many of us uncomfortable and left us wondering about the communication skills and competence of the people watching over our money.

Hmmm…Let’s think about this.  We have  a former superintendent in jail because of perjury for failing to accurately and honestly disclose

all of his outside income, and we currently have an interim superintendent who has also demonstrated disclosure issues regarding $12,000 of outside income. Is it any wonder we are apt to question things?  TABCO may cast a skeptical eye on social media, but some of us on social media cast a skeptical eye on BCPS.  Can you blame us?  And we’re not fakin’!!!

Click the link below to view the entire BCPS budget document.

BCPS 2019 Budget Analysis

 

 

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Looking For Quarters in the Sofa to Fund 1:1 in BCPS

 

THIS POST WAS UPDATED MAY 19, 2018

BCPS is raiding all possible funding sources to pay for giving every student a laptop.  Read a thorough explanation of how money is being misappropriated “for the children.”

 

“The County Office of the Auditor points out that the General Fund portion of the County’s budget would increase by $28.3 million, including new funding for the STAT program, and related curriculum materials. ‘These increases are significantly offset by the elimination of retiree healthcare funding, which totaled $25 million in FY 2018.’

It’s unclear what that “elimination” means, though recent discussion among county and school officials noted a “budget appropriation transfer” from the retirees’ fund, to be used to pay for STAT, a possible shell game that might constitute raiding the fund? Or an ongoing tapping of underfunded retirement and benefits monies?”

Read more of Joanne Simpson’s article here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Who’s Really Teaching?


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In a letter to the editor, Leslie Weber (of the Baltimore County Parents and Teachers Association) and Cynthia Boyd (parent and physician) succintly lay out the problem between the educational technology industry and public education.  The letter was witten in response to an article by Nancy Grasmick, former Maryland state superintendent of schools.   Although Grasmick’s article is over two years old, (as is the letter), as a retired teacher who always had the greatest respect for Dr Grasmick, I was quite dismayed to read her position on the role of businesses (in particular educational technology companies) and the education of our children.  Does Dr. Grasmick understand that the ed tech industry uses the term “personalized learning” as a panacea for what ails public education and severely undermines the teacher’s role and expertise in the classroom?  I fear not.

Counter arguments are clearly expressed in the letter.

 

Read the letter

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Throwback Friday?

 

Pete Fitzpatrick wants to be on the Baltimore County School Board and is running in District  1.  Fitzpatrick wrote a letter to the editor in The Baltimore Sun, critical of Dr. Karen Salmon, the Maryland State Board of Education Superintendent, for her decision not to approve Verletta White’s appointment as superintendent in Baltimore County.  Many people are in an uproar but Pete has taken it to a new level, comparing Salmon to a meddling mother-in-law.   The following commentary by Len Foxwell is worth reading.  It begs the question:  what century does Pete think we are living in?  I especially like Foxwell’s comments about chicken pot pie and martinis.

“A partisan attack on Dr. Karen Salmon that took on sexist overtones yesterday has now officially crossed the line.

In this letter to the editor, a “gentleman” named Pete Fitzpatrick literally compares Maryland School Superintendent Karen Salmon to a nagging mother-in-law and encourages her to “admit she acted precipitously and without all the facts and go home.” Where, presumably, she can thaw out her husband’s chicken pot pie and make sure he has a chilled martini and comfortable slippers after Mr. Slate blows the 5 p.m. whistle.

The attacks on Dr. Salmon’s competence, integrity and independence over these past 24 hours have been nauseating. She acted judiciously and in the best interests of a school system that continues to reel from the indictment, prosecution and imprisonment of the previous Superintendent for the same sort of ethics violations committed by Dr. White.

Honest debate and disagreement over Dr. Salmon’s decision is okay. The misogynistic, disrespectful tone taken by Mr. Fitzpatrick in his letter is not. In my opinion, he needs to apologize, publicly, to Dr. Salmon and then withdraw from the race for the Baltimore County Board of Education.”

Read the letter

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Betrayal of Trust

Flew in from Tucson last night to attend Dallas Dance’s sentencing. After about 2 hours including statements for the prosecution by former superintendent Bob Dubel and BOE member Roger Hayden and 6 speakers for the defense, sentence was announced.

Baltimore Sun

 

 

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Bedbugs in BCPS Laptops?

The latest article in The Baltimore Post shares emails from top personnel in the IT department of the Baltimore County Public Schools.  The emails discuss bedbugs destroying the laptops.  You just can’t make this stuff up. More proof that the leadership did not really plan well for this experiment?

 “Is there a Laundromat nearby?”   read more

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No Apology

  • In her most recent article, Ann Costantino describes the racous meeting of the Baltimore County Board of Education held April 3, 2018.  Costantino quotes a letter I wrote to one of the Board members.  I was appalled by the behavior of BOE member Stephen Verch and have called on him to apologize.  If a teacher behaved in the manner Verch displayed, she would probably be restrained by security and asked to leave – or even arrested.  Worse than that, as reported in Costantino’s article, Verch is unapologetic and states so with pride.

PAlso reported from people who attended the meeting was the rude behavior of teachers who spoke in favor of the STAT program.  It is one thing to state your opinion, but quite another to heckle those speaking in opposition.  Costantino shares a letter to the board from a parent: ‘I found it absolutely unacceptable to hear BCPS staff in the lime green shirts counting down out loud as time was running out on one of the citizen’s advisory council speakers. It was completely unprofessional, and I believe BCPSONE  owes her a public apology on behalf of your staff.”

Jayne Lee, the president of the Batimore County Council PTA has this to say:  “Thing is that his (Verch) behavior was not only directed at his fellow board members but also at those of us with differing opinions. Just as bad as Mr Verch was the behavior of the STAT teachers who jeered at the people with opposing views, counted down the time left while someone was speaking and sat in the atrium making rude nasty personal statements about speakers. My children would have been punished for that kind of rudeness. Perhaps last night the STAT teachers showed us the biggest problem with too much screen time. You end up with spoiled rude little children who have so much time on a device that they have no social skills and lack the ability to have interpersonal relationship skills that are generally acceptable.”

I will repeat what I have said from the beginning: when classroom teachers – not STAT teachers, NOT central office personnel, NOT resource teachers – turn out in great numbers at board meetings willing to speak, then I will believe that the majority of classroom teachers are in complete support of the digital transformation.  Until then, the only real transformation I can see, is that of polite discourse disintegrating into brash bullying of stakeholders by BCPS personnel in public meetings.

Read the full article here

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It’s Only Money…someone else’s.

Didn’t we used to call stuff like fuzzy math?

More on the BCPS STAT debacle

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