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Achievement gap Consortia Events Montgomery County School equity

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

Categories
Achievement gap Events School equity

Residents come together at workshop

The crowd at our first community workshop at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Colesville. Photo by Dan Reed.
The crowd at our first community workshop at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Colesville. Photo by Dan Reed.

Last Thursday, approximately 40 activist parents and residents came together for One Montgomery’s first community workshop at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Colesville. Reporters from the student and professional press were there as well.

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

Following time for initial greetings, the interrelated issues of residential and school socio-economic segregation, underfunding of schools with concentrated poverty and school academic underperformance were presented through PowerPoint pictures, words and graphs.

Workshop participants separated into groups to discuss and later present the strengths and weakness and opportunities and threats characterizing our schools; and the causes of and solutions for our current situation. The groups’ findings are outlined below.

The meeting concluded with observations regarding the political nature of school improvement. Change will require formation of an active community and its insistent communication of the request for change.

What are our schools’ present strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths

1. New facilities
2. Every school has honors and AP programs
3. Strong principals at individual schools (e.g., Blair and Springbrook)
4. Some strong PTAs engaging parents with cultural barriers
5. Diversity

Weaknesses

1. Politics for resource distribution
2. Weak community engagement
3. Wide gap in scores across individual schools
4. Cultural misconceptions of students within school (e.g., withheld opportunities, more minorities with suspensions)
5. Public perception that schools are bad – middle class flight

What opportunities and threats do our schools face in the future?

Opportunities

1. Increase SAT scores and graduation rates
2. Strong leadership: Maryland-school-community
3. Safety—a priority
4. Maintenance of effort—increase base funding
5. Reputation of success of school
6. Better branding
7. Good social interaction
8. More libraries/music programs: allow leadership opportunities for students
9. Head Start/Pre-K
10 Build on diversity for global citizens
11. Language, tech

Threats

1. More violence
2. People move out of neighborhoods
3. Economic vulnerability
4. Imbalance – population growth
5. Continuing low level of involvement by parents
6. Perception and reality of inequalities
7. Can’t increase enrollment without parent involvement
8. Middle schools lose ability to meet student needs
9. Bad branding – identify issues and make adjustments

What are the causes of current issues in our schools?

1. Economic disparities

a. Demographic changes to economy
b. Consortium maintains economic status quo
c. Correlation between race proportions and economic opportunity

2. Cultural differences

a. Not understanding differences in students, unique needs
b. Staff cultural competency

3. Continual staff training; necessary supports

4. Standardized testing teaching vs. engagement in learning

5. Home life

a. Lack of wrap around service
b. Lack of early childhood education
c. Lack of resources to support and advocate

What are some possible solutions for improving our schools?

1. Greater access for Head-Start: advocate for funds
2. Advocate for resources from Annapolis for our County
3. Volunteer program from qualified high school students, local colleges/universities
4. Solutions aren’t necessarily easy
5. Alternative programs for students with behavior problems
6. Stop changing the curriculum
7. Formula needs to match needs of the school; fair does not mean equal
8. Candid communication between MCPS and community
9. Greater resources for high needs schools
10. Proactive with population trends

Group Members

Strengths,Weaknesses Opportunities,Threats Causes Solutions
Facilitator Debbie Ed All Ralph
Scribe Stephanie Stephanie Dee Evelyn
Time keeper Thalia Jewru Rosina Lulu
Presenter Bernice Core Jay Jill
Members Dan David TeddySharon Fred Kyle Otto BobAdrienne Josh Evan AdamDiana Neal Mark, Ann
Categories
Events Montgomery County School equity

One Montgomery in the Gazette

The crowd at our first community workshop at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Colesville.
The crowd at our first community workshop at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in Colesville.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our community workshop last night in Colesville. About 30 people came out to the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration for a meeting about the achievement gap in Montgomery County Public Schools and how to make our schools stronger. It’s exciting to see so much community support for strong schools.

The Gazette‘s Peggy McEwan was there to cover the meeting and interviewed several group members and concerned parents, residents and community leaders:

It was an ambitious agenda for the first community meeting of the members of One Montgomery, an organization formed this summer to look at the problem of declining test scores in schools of the Montgomery County Public Schools Northeast Consortium and see how the trend can be reversed.

Ed Wetzlar was one of the founders of the group, along with Fred Stichnoth and Adrian Lees, all Silver Spring residents living in the Northeast Consortium area.

“I was concerned not only for the students, but also our property values,” said Wetzlar, who lives three blocks from Springbrook High School. “Schools are the foundation of your children’s future and, if you own property, schools determine the value of your property.”

Although originally focused on the Northeast Consortium — which encompasses James Hubert Blake, Paint Branch and Springbrook high schools, along with five middle schools, 16 elementary schools and the Carl Sandburg Learning Center — One Montgomery would like to have a farther reach, Wetzlar said, working for equity in education throughout the county.

We’re not done yet. Next Tuesday, several elected officials from the school board, County Council, and state delegation will host a Community Concerns Forum at Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville. We’d love for you to come out and join the call for more resources in underperforming schools. For more information and for other upcoming events, visit One Montgomery’s calendar page.

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Events

Join us for a community workshop next month

One Montgomery is ready to start a conversation about how to support and improve Montgomery County Public Schools so that every student in every school has the resources they need to succeed. Join us for a community workshop on Thursday, November 14 at 7pm at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, located at 13925 New Hampshire Avenue in Colesville. This event is sponsored by the Greater Colesville Citizens Association.

We’ll have a meet-and-greet with refreshments at 7pm before calling the meeting to order at 7:30. There will be a short presentation about the issues facing Montgomery County schools, especially those in the Northeast and Downcounty consortia, followed by breakout sessions where we can gather ideas for how promote school equity. For more information, email us at onemontschools@gmail.com.

Join us for a community workshop November 14.
Join us for a community workshop November 14.

Here’s a printable copy of the flyer. We look forward to seeing you there!