Failing and Wailing: The Plight of Our County Schools
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 23rd August 2017
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BCPS armor failing or falling behind, whichever you prefer.

 

 

Verletta White, interim BCPS superintendent, raises red flags over remarks regarding the STAT Program

No mention of long-term billion-dollar investment into Dr. Dance’s failed policies

 

After reading The Baltimore Sun’s article by education reporter Liz Bowie, it’s obvious to this journalist that our education system in Maryland is failing.

Ms. Bowie strikes a certain narrative of truth about the dreaded issues regarding BCPS.

I make this statement with just cause. There is a police term “PC,” that refers to “probable cause.” PC is created when an officer articulates the evidence needed to show that a crime has been committed. Yet, despite a ton of PC, the Sun’s article dodges two cost drains on the taxpayers, not to mention the ultimate vision of Dr. Dallas Dance–which ultimately led to his sudden unexpected departure.  The Baltimore Post has covered the issues regarding Dr. Dance and the STAT program, which provides each BCPS student with a free laptop.

Before we take a look at Verletta White’s grandiose visions of success, let’s stop to realize that her picture is clouded by the reality of falling test scores and a lack of the basic abilities our children will need to succeed in life. Regardless of a career in trade or higher education, there are certain skills required in order for any of our youth to achieve success in whatever endeavor they pursue.

Here are some quotes from the Sun article dealing with the falling PAARC scores:

“Despite the fact that Baltimore County students’ passage rate was below the state average, Verletta White, the interim schools superintendent, said she was encouraged.”

“We still have some work to do, but we believe we are headed in the right direction,” she said.

Now let’s take a look at BCPS board member Ann Miller’s thoughts on this issue in an op-ed piece she wrote for the Post regarding the Lighthouse Schools:

While the Lighthouse Schools were a way to “start this transition”, Superintendent Dallas Dance has stated he never intended to pilot the initiative.  To date, no quantifiable evidence shows STAT is improving student educational outcomes.  In fact, due to a rollout which had no planned measures to evaluate student success, the only indicators we have show evidence that STAT is hurting our school system:
  • PARCC scores have dropped

  • MAP scores are below the average in our state

  • MSA scores peaked in 2012 and have declined every year since, most substantially since 2014

  • NAEP scores have declined

  • SAT scores have declined starting in 2014

  • Teachers are overwhelmed and leaving the system

  • Through thousands of stakeholder emails and testimony, we know our school system is suffering in almost every department

Only time will tell whether Ms. White blazes her own trail or follows downward slide in the former Superintendent Dallas Dance.

What is also interesting about Ms. Bowie’s column is this quote:

As a system, we hear parents and their concerns about their overall results,” she said. But PARCC is just one set of data, White said, and parents should consider that indicators such as the graduation rate and SAT scores are improving. The school district is focusing on improving math scores by rewriting the curriculum, and she hopes that will have an effect soon.

Miss White, I find your comments to be oxymorons due to the fact that BCPS is facing difficult times achieving readiness for students to face the challenges of the new world.  After all, how can you be optimistic after reading this quote from Ms. Bowie’s article?

Despite the fact that Baltimore County students’ passage rate was below the state average, Verletta White, the interim schools superintendent, said she was encouraged.

As a journalist, I made it a point to interview several recent BCPS graduates. I was shocked at their inability to comprehend simple math, such as multiplication tables and percentages. Beyond that, they have little to no understanding of common words used in the business community, despite having been schooled in the state-of-the-art DHS building.

Oh, before I forget, the amount of money being spent on the questionable STAT Program could be utilized to fund air conditioning, new schools, more teachers, and smaller class sizes, which ultimately would lead to a more profound impact on students than a free computer; especially when many students don’t have a clue how to use the laptops.

Yet, the downside of the STAT Program that was never mentioned in Ms. Bowie’s article.

With that said, in all fairness to Ms. Bowie, she wrote what I believe to be one of the best pieces of journalism in recent memory. She provided coverage of illegal immigrants coming to this country and attempting to adapt to a way of life completely unfamiliar to them, as well as the often devastating hardships they face.

It would be worth their while to understand the struggles of these young students. That may explain why it is so difficult today to achieve success in our educational system. Instead, we are faced violence, a lack of accountability, a lack of discipline, and a serious lack of resources needed to prepare the students for the real world.

 

The new DHS cost $120 million

 

I can tell you that the principal behind the effort to build the state-of-the-art DHS used every ounce of strength and determination to make it succeed. Unfortunately, after his retirement, things took a downward turn at this once proud institution of learning.

And this is not the only BCPS school to experience problems with disruptive and violent classrooms. I’m quite sure those problems played a role in the latest test figures.

In closing, we believe that BCPS and other school jurisdictions within the state of Maryland must require discipline and accountability, as well as a more traditional approach to learning the three main educational principles–reading, writing, and arithmetic. This nation once led the world in every educational category. However, today those time-honored subjects are cast aside for politically correct nonsense, sending the United States spiraling from its once proud position of being number one in the world.

Sadly, we have taken a serious fall in education, as well as in healthcare. This all must be addressed in a bipartisan effort from our politicians and leaders, all of whom can’t seem to get their heads out of their … er … sand dunes.

I could have used a stronger term, but I am not sure that would have been meaningful given today’s climate of political insanity.

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