Join us and MCEF for a community forum on the superintendent search

mcef flyer

As Montgomery County Public Schools seeks a new superintendent, how can we ensure that high-needs schools will have the leadership they need? Join us and the Montgomery County Education Forum for “What the Next Superintendent Must Deliver,” a community forum on how the next superintendent of MCPS can best meet the needs of a growing and diverse school population. We’ll have speakers including both education experts and MCPS students and take a detailed look at our 13 questions that the Board of Education should consider in finding a new superintendent.

The meeting’s next Thursday, March 19 from 7 to 9:30pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building, located at One Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring. For more information or to RSVP, check out our Facebook event page.


Give feedback on the superintendent search, and meet your Board of Education members in Burtonsville

People discussed issues affecting Montgomery County schools in breakout sessions. Photo by Adrienne Lees.

A community meeting in East County. Photo by Adrienne Lees.

Next week, you’ll have a chance to give feedback on MCPS’ new superintendent in Gaithersburg, and meet your Board of Education members in Burtonsville.

Montgomery County Public Schools’ search for a new superintendent is underway, and to collect community feedback, they’re holding a series of public forums around the county. Parents, students, staff, and community members will be able to talk to representatives from the executive search firm MCPS is using to find a new superintendent and discuss their hopes and wishes for the school system’s new leader.

The next one is this Tuesday, March 10 at 7pm at Gaithersburg High School, located at 101 Education Boulevard in Gaithersburg. Unfortunately, there won’t be another forum in East County; there were meetings at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring and Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda in last week, but a scheduled forum at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville was cancelled due to snow. If you’d like more information, or can’t attend the meeting in Gaithersburg and want to share your thoughts with the decision-makers who’ll hire the next superintendent, visit the MCPS website.

However, the Board of Education will be coming to Paint Branch on Thursday for a cluster meeting, the first one in four years. You’ll be able to talk to board members about issues affecting East County schools, including the superintendent search, the school system’s persistent achievement gap, next year’s budget, and other concerns. That meeting will be on Thursday, March 12 from 7 to 9pm at Paint Branch High School, located at 14121 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. For more info, contact Larry Edmonds, Paint Branch cluster coordinator, at 240/381-3984 or by email at larrye14 at verizon dot net.


Meet your Board of Education candidates at events this fall

While the primary election feels like a distant memory, the general election is less than six weeks away! Because Board of Education races are non-partisan, there are still competitive races for all four seats on the ballot (Districts 1, 3, 5, and At-Large) this year.

You’ve seen our endorsements for Board of Education, and now here’s your chance to meet the candidates. This page will be updated throughout the fall with debates and candidate events as we hear about them.

Don’t forget: Election Day is Tuesday, November 4 from 7am to 8pm. Early voting runs from October 23 through October 30 at polling places around Montgomery County. And you’ve got until October 14 to register to vote.

Upcoming Board of Education Candidate Events

Saturday, October 11th: 8:45 – 11:00 a.m.,
Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Dr. Rockville
Sponsored by NAACP Parents Council

Tuesday, October 14th: 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.,
Silver Spring Civic Center, One Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring
Sponsored by the Montgomery County Education Forum (MCEF)

Wednesday, October 15th: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
River Falls Club House 7915 Horseshoe Lane, Potomac, MD.
Sponsored by the Whitman High School Cluster

Tuesday, October 21: 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.,
Long Branch Community Center, 8700 Piney Branch Road, Silver Spring
Sponsored by Safe Silver Spring and MCCPTA

Passed Events

Monday, September 29: The League of Women Voters of Montgomery County and Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations are hosting a candidate forum with both incumbents and challengers. The event starts at 6:30pm at the Carver Educational Services Center, located at 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville.

Tuesday, September 30: The Montgomery County Taxpayers League, Montgomery County Civic Federation, and Parents Coalition of Montgomery County host a forum for challengers only. That event starts at 7:00pm at the Rockville Library, located at 21 Maryland Avenue in Rockville.

Saturday, October 5th: 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.,
Garrett Park Town Hall, 10814 Kenilworth Avenue, Garrett Park
Sponsored by Start School Later, Inc.

Wednesday, October 8th:7:30 – 9:00 p.m.,
Aspen Hill Library, 4407 Aspen Hill Road, Rockville
Sponsored by The Library Advisory Committee and the Strathmore-Bel Pre Civic Association


Join One Montgomery at upcoming events around East County

Summer is coming, but One Montgomery isn’t taking a vacation. We hope to use the next few months as an opportunity to continue our conversation about the state of Montgomery County’s public schools and how we can ensure stronger, more equitable schools for everyone. Here’s what we have going on:

Tonight, we are cosponsoring a County Council District 5 candidates forum hosted by the Coalition of East County Citizens. Hear the candidates talk about their plans for education in District 5, which includes Burtonsville, White Oak, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park. That event will be at 7pm at the East County Regional Services Center, located at 3300 Briggs Chaney Road.

– On Saturday, we’ll be at IMPACT Silver Spring’s East County Family Reunion, a free event with food, games, a live DJ, and a basketball tournament. We’ll have a table and would love to meet you and hear your thoughts on Montgomery County schools. Join us from 11am to 3pm at the East County Community Center, located at 3310 Gateshead Manor Way.

-Help us elect candidates who are committed to school equity! We’re looking for volunteers to help pass out sample ballots at early voting centers. Early voting runs from June 12 to June 19 and we’d like to have people at the Silver Spring Civic Building and Fairland Recreation Center on weekday evenings and weekend mornings. Please email us at onemontschools at gmail dot com if you’re interested in helping.

– We won’t be having another community workshop until the fall, but until then, we’re interested in having smaller house meetings where we can get to know the people who are active in local school communities and talk about the issues facing our public schools. Would you be interested in attending or hosting one? Send an email to onemontschools at gmail dot com and let us know.


Two chances to hear about the MCPS achievement gap report next week

Not Blake, Closing Time Next week, hear from education expert Rick Kahlenberg on how to close the achievement gap in Montgomery County Public Schools and discuss the performance of East County high schools at two meetings around the area.

On Monday, Kahlenberg will speak at the Montgomery County Civic Federation’s monthly meeting, Kahlenberg recently wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that integrated, diverse schools are the best way to improve the performance of all students. He’ll be speaking alongside Dr. Elaine Bonner-Tompkins of the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight, who wrote a newly-released report about the achievement gap and growing segregation in Montgomery County high schools, and at-large County Councilmember Hans Riemer.

The meeting will be held this Monday at 7:45pm in the first-floor auditorium of the Council Office Building, located at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. For more information, visit the Civic Federation’s website.

And on Wednesday, the East County Citizens Advisory Board will host a presentation about Office of Legislative Oversight report, focusing on changing demographics and drops in student performance in East County schools. The Board is made up of local community members who are appointed by County Executive Ike Leggett to represent and speak for East County residents. That meeting will be at 7:00pm at the East County Regional Services Center, located at 3300 Briggs Chaney Road in Silver Spring.

We hope to see you at one of the meetings this week! It’s great to see that community leaders are interested in talking about the issues facing East County schools and how we can all work together to make them stronger.


Education expert Kahlenberg weighs in on the MCPS achievement gap

Image from Kahlenberg’s website.

One of the nation’s foremost experts on education, Richard Kahlenberg, lives right here in Montgomery County and has children in public school. In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, he weighs in on the school system’s growing achievement gap and argues that racially and socioeconomically integrated schools are the best way to improve the education of all students:

A half-century of research, however, suggests that pouring extra funds into high-poverty schools is not the most important thing policymakers can do for poor kids. Giving them access to high-quality middle-class schools is far more effective. Money matters in education, but other things matter more.

The “resources” a school provides include not only funds but also academically engaged peers who encourage achievement among classmates, a cadre of parents who volunteer in class and know how to pull the levers of power when things go wrong and teachers who have high expectations for students. All of these ingredients for success are much more likely to be found in schools with a majority of middle-class students than in high-poverty schools.

Kahlenberg, who lives in Bethesda and whose children attend public schools here, cites past research about MCPS that says low-income students do better in low-poverty schools than in high-poverty schools. He also notes that despite efforts here and elsewhere to improve schools were most students are disadvantaged, socioeconomically diverse schools are 22 times more likely to perform better.

He also suggests ways to promote integration in the school system and suggests that higher-income families stand to gain from more diverse schools as well:

Moreover, there is no widespread effort to allow low-income students to transfer to wealthier schools, a practice in other jurisdictions. This omission is a major drawback of Montgomery’s integration efforts. More-advantaged children would benefit immensely from greater levels of school integration. My children have received terrific academic preparation in the Pyle-Whitman cluster in Bethesda, for instance, but they miss out on the benefits of learning alongside those with different life experiences rooted in race and income…

Middle-class parents understandably do not want to send their children to schools with overwhelming poverty, but Columbia University researchers Allison Roda and Amy Stuart Wells have found that many white, advantaged parents see racial and ethnic diversity as a plus in preparing children for a 21st-century workforce. Schools that offer bilingual Spanish and English programs are particularly popular and highlight the ways in which diversity bolsters learning, as native Spanish speakers can help English speakers learn a new language, and vice versa.

You can read Kahlenberg’s full article in the Washington Post.

Next month, he will give a talk about how to close the achievement gap along with Elaine Bonner-Tompkins, the county researcher who recently released a report about segregation and academic performance in MCPS. The meeting, hosted by the Montgomery County Civic Federation, will be Monday, May 12 at 7:45pm in the Council Office Building’s first floor auditorium, located at 100 Maryland Avenue in Rockville. For more information, visit the Civic Fed’s website.

 

 

He’ll also be giving a talk about his research


Students protest MCPS achievement gap in march on Rockville

March to Close the Gap Rally in Courthouse Square

Several hundred people came to march in protest of the achievement gap in Rockville yesterday.

Several hundred students, teachers and school administrators, parents, and local officials marched on Rockville yesterday in a call to close the growing achievement gap between white and Asian and black and Hispanic students in Montgomery County Public Schools.

The Minority Scholars Program, a student-driven initiative to close the achievement gap, began organizing the march several months ago. The group began at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda eight years ago as a way to reach out to minority students, and has since expanded to 10 other high schools in the county, including Northwood, Springbrook, and Wheaton. Organizers say the program has “data to support its success” in increasing the academic eligibility and honor roll placement of minority students.

About 400 people marched from the Carver Center, once the county’s black high school under segregation and now the MCPS central office, down Rockville Pike and North Washington Street. Students chanted and held signs with slogans like “Close the Gap,” as drivers honked their horns in approval. The march ended at Courthouse Square for a festive rally on the steps of the county courthouse with music and dancing.

Organizers hope the march will raise awareness about the achievement gap and spur the community to action. “For years, we have been watching and waiting and hoping and wishing for something to change,” said Mike Williams, a teacher at Walter Johnson who helped start the Minority Scholars Program.

Marchers on Rockville Pike as Dr. Starr (left) takes a photo.

Marchers on Rockville Pike as Dr. Starr (left) takes a photo.

Several MCPS and Montgomery County officials participated in the march and subsequent rally, including school board president Phil Kauffman and superintendent Joshua Starr, who tweeted selfies with the crowd and even briefly danced with MSP members on stage. “We care about you and we love you,” he said. “Everything we are doing is about how we can work harder to close the gap.”

Speakers during the rally made repeated comparisons to other youth movements in history, from the East Los Angeles Walkouts in 1968 to the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa. Tim Warner, Chief Engagement and Partnership Officer for MCPS, urged the students to offer their input and ideas. “You are the solution…you are what Montgomery County looks like today and you are our leaders,” he said. “You all need to tell us what to do.”

Student leader Gabi Bianchi called the march “the beginning of a revolution to close the achievement gap,” adding, “We have been heard.” She said the Minority Scholars Program will advocate for “institutional changes” at the federal, state, and county levels to give students and schools the resources they need to succeed.

That will be a challenge for the organization. School officials acknowledge that minority students are lagging their peers, and MCPS does have many good programs in place to help close the gap. But the achievement gap continues to grow and appears to be a direct result of de facto racial and socioeconomic segregation in MCPS.

Yet in recent months, Dr. Starr has both rejected a recent report from the county’s Office of Legislative Oversight about the achievement gap, while Starr and Kauffman both threatened to cut funding for additional programs to close the gap if the school system didn’t get a raise in their budget from the county. These actions really raise questions about the school system’s commitment.

Yesterday’s march was a great day for the Minority Scholars Project and for all of the hard-working students and staff who made it happen. But we all have to hold MCPS leaders accountable for their promises to listen to the community’s concerns and make the school system more equitable for all students.

Check out this slideshow of the march.