Tag Archives: Maryland Department of Education

The culture of denying sunshine in the Maryland public school system.

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Lack of sunshine within Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is destroying Maryland Schools. 

The only way citizens can protect their own rights is to know their rights. And we have to know them as well as or better than those who seek to deny them.

From violations of the Open Meetings Act, to regulations made without the protections of the legislative process, to board meetings lacking reasonable public access, there is a culture of opaqueness that pervades our public school system on all levels in Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Education (MDE) has the authority to set regulations, which have the force of law, without the processes involved in passing legislation. Citizens are represented through our elected legislators, not through appointed board members. If the school board adopts regulations the public doesn’t agree with, we have little recourse – we can’t fire them or vote them out! The issue is explained in greater detail here.

While the authority of the MDE to function in quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial roles is authorized by law, some protections of the public’s right to government involvement are also authorized. But these protections are not self-enforcing and are routinely ignored. The more officials get away with excluding the public without being called out, the more we are training them to continue to exclude us. Case in point: the Maryland Open Meetings Act.

The Baltimore County Board of Education met in January in a series of secret, closed door meetings with our county executive to discuss the education budget. These meetings resulted in an $18 million decrease in the budget, all occurring without sunshine. See previous article on the violation here.

If you notice any public body that routinely makes unanimous or nearly unanimous votes with little to no dissension, chances are there are regular illegal closed door meetings occurring in addition to the required public meetings.

Not only do we have a lack of sunshine because of improperly closed meetings and off-the-record discussions, but we have lack of access to OPEN meetings too.

Ever tried to attend a board meeting of the state school board? Take all day off work, fight morning rush hour traffic to get down into Baltimore City, pay $12 for parking, sit through the morning session to get part of the important agenda items, and twiddle your thumbs during the adjournment to the closed Executive Session which lasts one-and-a-half to two hours. If there is no delay in the schedule you’ll get to the public comment period in mid to late afternoon only to discover the sign up to speak is done by phone and email prior to the day of the meeting rather than in-person registration, testify for three minutes, then fight rush hour traffic back home. If you are not within a reasonable driving distance of Baltimore City, you’re out of luck. The board does not livestream their meetings even though they represent citizens statewide up to three hours of driving distance away. Does that reflect the drumbeat of transparency and accountability?

>>> Read more 

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Maryland’s new test requirement for graduation is Finally delayed…

for two years after pressure from the citizenry.

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Dr. Lillian Lowery Embattled State Superintendent is currently presiding over deep-seated corruption in Maryland school system. She has demonstrated a culture of discrimination and racism while on the job.

The Maryland State Board of Education voted on Tuesday for a two-year delay in requiring that high school students pass new standardized tests in order to graduate.

This year, students in grades 3 to 8 and in English 10 and Algebra I will take the new tests, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and based on the national Common Core State Standards.

Prior to Tuesday’s action, the new tests for English 10 and Algebra I were required for graduation. Under the new plan, students still will have to pass the courses to graduate, but will not have to pass the tests, state officials said.

The graduation requirement will go into effect during the 2016-2017 school year.

The action reverses a decision the state board made in July to implement the new test requirement.

“Our two-year plan will allow our students and teachers to become more knowledgeable in the more rigorous standards during the transition,” said Mary Kay Finan, the board’s vice president.

Maryland joins other states, including Massachusetts, that have either decided to delay the transition to the new tests or opted not to make them a graduation requirement this school year.

Since the board’s action earlier this year, some local district officials have raised concerns about holding students accountable during the transition to the new tests.

Montgomery County school leaders sent a letter earlier this month to state officials expressing their concern, and they asked for a two-year delay. They questioned why the state would delay the use of the results from the new tests in evaluating school personnel, but would require students to pass them to graduate.

He said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery has been in discussions with local superintendents and school board officials about the transition to the new tests.

“This was just a sensible approach,” Reinhard said. “We have to prepare everybody for moving forward.”

 Reinhard said a similar action was taken when the state High School Assessments, or HSAs, were rolled out years ago. >>> source  Washington Post
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