Join us for a discussion on community engagement at Springbrook

Our public schools have a huge impact on our neighborhoods and our local economy. But how do we get people who are affected by our schools engaged in education issues, even if they don’t have kids?

Springbrook High SignNext week, join us for a discussion about community engagement, hosted by the Northeast Consortium PTA. We’ll give a presentation about the state of East County’s schools and how we can get our community members more involved.

Then, we’ll have a group discussion alongside the Greater Colesville Citizens Association and Hope Restored about the struggle to promote academic excellence and social-emotional learning in our schools, two of the three competencies MCPS officials say students need to be successful in the 21st century. The results will be sent to the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations (MCCPTA), MCPS, and the Board of Education.

The meeting will be next Monday, January 13 from 6:30 to 9pm at Springbrook High School, located at 201 Valley Brook Drive in Silver Spring. You don’t have to be a PTA member or live in the Northeast Consortium area to attend. Here’s a description of the event from Ann Coletti and Christina McWilson, Springbrook Cluster coordinators:

As citizens, we have a vested interest in improving our schools, which are an integral part of our community. Not only do our young citizens need a good education to become the new leaders, the success in our schools has a direct impact on our property values and the decisions of businesses to locate in our neighborhoods.

Our schools need your help in addressing the persistent achievement gap, which is evidenced by low scores on county, state and national tests. We need your input to harness our collective ideas and knowledge to better advocate for our common needs with the Montgomery County Council Parent Teacher Association (MCCPTA), the Board of Education, the Montgomery County Council and the State of Maryland.

The state of the schools reflects the state of the community, which is why it is important to pull together as a community to find our inspiration and strength to affect change in our schools.

We hope to see you on the 13th at Springbrook High School! Details are below.

Monday, January 13, 2014
Meet and Greet 6:30pm
Meeting 7-9pm
Springbrook High School Media Center
201 Valley Brook Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20904

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Minority, low-income students lag peers in AP exam participation

Last month, Montgomery County Public Schools announced that high school students had taken a record number of Advanced Placement exams, which allow them to receive college credit. But as with many measures of success in the school system, there remains a huge gap in performance between minority and low-income students and their counterparts. Our own Fred Stichnoth breaks down the results in a letter to the Gazette:

Today, very roughly, the proportion of MCPS AP exams taken by blacks and Hispanics is only half their representation among MCPS high school students; and the proportion of 3 or higher scores earned by blacks and Hispanics is only a third their representation among MCPS high school students.

The proportions are worse for students in poverty: their proportion of MCPS’ exams is only a quarter of their proportion of MCPS high school students; and their proportion of tests scored 3 or higher is only a fifth of their representation in MCPS high schools.

In MCPS’ celebratory Dec. 6 announcement “MCPS Students Take a Record Number of AP Exams,” Dr. Joshua Starr pronounces himself “very pleased.” His “there are still significant gaps” is merely an increasingly common, fine print, boilerplate add-on.

The superintendent’s comparison of black and Hispanic performance in MCPS to that in the state and nation is a bit like comparing Division I to Division III: It ignores the superior resources at MCPS’ disposal and MCPS’ Core Value commitment to closing the gaps among its own students.

Montgomery County Public Schools is known as one of the best school systems in the country. But we can’t hold on to that reputation if we hold different groups of students to different standards.