Plans for a controversial new grading and reporting system in Harford County Public Schools were sidelined by Superintendent Robert Tomback at a school board meeting held June 14, 2010 in Bel Air. Dr. Tomback said he would ask for a re-examination of the plan by his newly appointed Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment William A. Lawrence.
The grading and reporting proposal has drawn fire from teachers, parents and students since it was introduced two years ago. Objections have included a lack of alignment with curriculum, a rigid formula for calculating grades, and a low value assigned to homework.
More recently, C. Milton Wright student Caitlin Dooling presented the school board with 650 signatures on a petition of protest, at the same June 14 meeting where Superintendent Tomback later announced the plan would be reviewed.
The petition presented by Ms. Dooling urges the superintendent and the school board to reject the grading plan entirely or to make changes to certain aspects.
Specifically, the petition objects to the following components of the plan:
– The increase of weight of the final exam from 1/9 to 1/5 of the final grade
– The addition of the midterm exam grade to the second quarter grade
– The method of comprising grades: 50-60% tests, 30-40% quizzes and classwork, and 0-10% homework
– The use of the non-weighted grade to determine class rank
The use of non-weighted grading would eliminate the additional credit currently awarded for Advanced Placement classes, which Dooling said would result in multiple valedictorians at C. Milton Wright, without recognizing the students who took more challenging classes.
Kate Kidwell, student representative to the Harford County Board of Education told The Dagger that an opinion poll taken on the proposed grading and reporting plan had also garnered a unanimous ‘no’ vote, at a recent meeting of HCPS high school and middle school Student Government Association representatives.
Below is a copy of Ms. Dooling’s petition. Similar petitions have been circulated at other area high schools:
Does this mean that this grading system that has been used at Patterson Mill for 2 years will be discontinued? I hope someone takes a look at that. Patterson Mill was a “pilot” for this grading system.
no it means schools are free to do whatever still!
Bob Frisch says
I am in complete agreement that a consistent county wide (with some leeway for adjustment by teachers depending on the specifics of the course they are teaching) grading policy needs to be in place. As an example, an “A” in North Harford HS should have the same level of subject mastery as an “A” in any other high school in the county. All students should be competing on a level playing field.
Bob Frisch says
I do not know what “pilot” grading system they were using at Patterson Mill but I can tell you that after looking at the proposed change in grading policy I found components that were misguided, uninformed, and should have raised serious concern with parents, students, and teachers.
I addressed these concerns with everyone I have spoken with thus far during my campaign. I used this proposal as a spicific example of problems with how the Board of Education and the Superintendent are out of touch with their constituency. The move to an elected school board in November will remedy this situation. Then board members will have to involve all stakeholders in the process in a much more direct way if they want to be elected or hold onto their seats for another term in office. The time for ignoring the people that matter most (parents, students, CLASSROOM teachers) is over!
If the superintendent had really (not superficial lip service, or preselected focus groups) involved these groups this proposal would never have gotten to the school board in current form for final approval on Monday evening. People do not understand how dangerously close the negative aspects of the proposal came to county wide implementation. It was only through the actions of students who started a community awareness campaign that created pressure on Mr. Tomback that forced him to withdraw the proposal as currently written. These students should be commended and serve as a great example of what the community can do to get the school system to listen to their true constituents. As an educator I did see some good suggestions within the proposed policy change that I actually agree, but as a whole it is a poor grading policy. I also know we will eventually see a modified proposal presented to the school board, hopefully without the negative aspects of the current proposal.
Such proposals should be vetted with all stakeholders before they come to the school board for final approval, this would relieve much of the antagonism that currently exists within and against the school system administration and school board members. We can do better, we demand better, and in November we will get better. It should not go unnoticed nor should it be a surprise that to date all those current Board of Education members eligible to run for an elected seat on the board have either already bowed out of the race or not filed to run. What does this say? I hope the Superintendent and Board of Education are really seeing and listening to an invigorated constituency because business as usual for the Harford County Schools Administration is about to change.
Candidate Harford County Board of Education
District A (Edgewood/Joppa/Joppatowne)
About a year and a half ago there were public hearing on the proposed grading system. I went and was surprised to see a number of Patterson Mill teachers there. At that point PM had implemented most of this grading policy. The PM parents, students and teachers gave specific examples as to why we didn’t like this policy and what problems we had seen first hand with the implementation. Later that year, the PM PTSA organized a meeting with PM admin where many teachers talked about how wonderful this new grading system was. I believe Roger Plunkett and a BOE member were at the meeting. Most of that meeting was PM admin talking with little time left for parent/student comment. One specific area that I saw with the new policy is that it tended to make grades higher. I used my child’s edline reports and ran his grades weighted and unweighted and found that in every class his grades were higher when they were weighted. (Maybe I shouldn’t complain) PM admin claims this system is neutral, that should be review by someone outside HCPS. I recently talked with a teacher from Montgomery County who also complained about this menthod of weighing grades. If this policy is going to be reviewed, they should have some meeting with the Patterson Mill parents, teachers, and students to get some first-hand feedback.
Bob Frisch says
Students should be rewarded for taking higher level, and therefore more difficult, classes. That is the point in pushing capable students to take AP courses, to challenge their academic abilities without undue risk. Harford County and the State Board of Education certainly like to advertise their high AP pass rates. But to eliminate the weighted graded system for those students willing to put it on the line is a disincentive and encourages a less rigorous course lode in the interest of protecting their GPA and class rank with an eye toward future college admissions.
That PM administrators would espouse the virtues of this grading system does not surprise me. I am not saying that PM administrators were just following the company line, but then I have seen other instances where those looking to preserve their positions or for future advancement have done so as a matter of self preservation.
You said that by the time parents, students, and teachers were given the time to comment that most of the new grading system was already in place, and at a subsequent meeting you were given little time for input. This is because their minds were already made up and they really didn’t want your input. The dirty little secret in public education is that they (those in power – the State Board of Education, local Superintendents and Boards of Education) do not want to hear from you. Your questioning or objection to their programs and policies is seen as an impediment by the unknowing. They know what is best for your children and you should stand aside and let them run everything – they know what they are doing even if you do not. The last line on Mr. Tomback’s withdrawn grading policy change read as follows:
The Superintendent recommends that the Board of Education move forward with public input and then approval of this document.”
The key here is “then approval of this document.” Not that it be further reviewed or revised, just approved. The implication is obvious that “public input” is nothing more than lip service to placate any objectors and then move forward regardless. The expectation is that the school board is supposed to rubber stamp the Superintendent’s proposal. This kind of thing must stop!
This does not happen in private schools. Activist parents and self advocating students have greater influence with school administrators. We need this same degree of respect from public school systems, and individual school administrators as well.
It is just this type of activity that convinced me to run for a seat on the Board of Education. If anyone out there is interested in supporting a candidate who is interested in having parents, students, and classroom teachers be equal decision makers in the direction of Harford County schools please contact me.
Candidate for Board of Education
District A (Edgewood/Joppa/Joppatowne)
Remember, just because you do not live in District A does not mean you cannot have a say in my election. Keep in mind that those elected to the school board this year will be making policy decisions that affect everyone in Harford County. You also have a great deal at stake in the election results.
Bob, one correction: Maryland boasts of the high statewide pass rate. This is mostly because Howard and Montgomery Counties have exceptional schools. HCPS boasts that it has a lot of students taking AP classes but is very quiet about AP test results. Dagger was the only place you could find AP results and they were shockingly poor. There were a few bright spots, but mostly HCPS performed below average.They push a lot of students to take AP, but aren’t really preparing them to do well on the tests. The helps boost GPA’s for the students and for the schools.
a teacher at PMMill says
Patterson Mill did NOT get rid of the weighted GPA. The ONLY part of the proposal that was implemented was the weighting (60%, 30%, and 10%). An 89.5 is still an A (ridiculous–a 90% should be an A). As a teacher there, I can say for my own classes–it is a neutral result. The grades are not too different. That said, I do think it is totally ridiculous not to use weighted GPA’s. Those kids should be rewarded for taking on the extra rigor.
Mr. Frisch, I can appreciate you wanting to get elected, but please do not make general statements about a school when you do not have all the facts. You were not at the meeting and have no information about what was said other than one person’s response. I, too, was at the meeting and can say there was a lot of time for students and parents to speak. In fact, I was actually appalled at the way many parents at the meeting allowed their children to speak to teachers and staff. They were extremely disrespectful, referring to teachers as liars and one mother even accused all the teachers of “losing kids’ papers.” She said, “And the teachers lose your papers, don’t they kids?” While I totally agree that the students at a school have a right to voice their opinion, I do think it should be done respectfully. Actually, I think that whether you are a student or adult. Since working at PMHS, it has been very interesting. Most parents are wonderfully supportive and so kind to teachers, but many, and they tend to be the ones we hear from the most, treat the teachers as if we are their “hired help.” It is obvious that many of them look down on us from their $800,000 homes. Their standard line is “we pay taxes.” News flash….so do teachers….
Your willingness to jump on the first piece of information you get makes it appear to me that you are willing to say what you think people want to hear rather than gathering all the necessary information and then making an INFORMED decision.
Joseph Caruso says
a teacher at PMMill says –
While you state “Their standard line is “we pay taxes.” News flash….so do teachers….” Well the difference is that teachers compensation comes from taxpayers, while most people earn their income in the private sector.
I have great respect for teachers, but you seem to not respect taxpayers, parents and students. You are accountable to all of us. If you cannot approach taxpayers, parents and students legitimate concerns constructively maybe you need to seek a new line of work?
The poor taxpayers. How about we just get rid of taxes–then you can educate your own kids, police your own neighborhoods, find your own source of drinking water, etc. etc. Does approaching the taxpayers’ concerns “constructively” only apply when you get your way? Who gives a crap if people earn their living from the public or the private sector? Most of the jobs performed in the public sector are necessities. If you want to control things, go to the police academy, go to a teaching college. Being a taxpayer doesn’t bestow any special authorities beyond getting to elect public officials. Can’t wait to see how the school board gets screwed up once interest groups start selecting the members.
Joseph Caruso says
Well I can see from your post you have “constructive” ideas about how to get better value and outcomes from our tax dollars.
Do you really believe that HCPS is a model of efficiency and productivity?
I have no clue how efficient or productive HCPS–and neither do you. We all can spout opinions from the outside based upon what we see–and we all still are usually talking out of areas other than our mouths. Being a taxpayer doesn’t add any power to our opinions or make us efficiency experts.
Joseph Caruso says
Are you happy with the HCPS results?
Do you think BOE/HCPS spends our tax dollars prudently and effectively?
Do you have an opinion pro or con on the BOE/HCPS?
I do have an opinion about HCPS. I am more than satisfied with the education my children are currently receiving. They are being successful and are learning. I credit the schools to a degree. I credit myself and their mother to a degree. I credit their other relatives to a degree. To that end, the children I know who aren’t being successful in school–I blame all of the above as well. SAT scores are a good measure–but again–the home has as much to do with a child’s successful education as do the schools.
Justamom – One reason our AP scores are so appallling is because we freqently pull our students out of AP instruction for social activities (like club days) and especially for athletics. Most kids who take AP are also in athletics and other extracurricular activities. If an AP class meets in the afternoons, most of those students will not be present for instruction approximately 1/4 to 1/5 of the time during the fall and spring. We even had to have 2 of our students have their AP test rescheduled at county expense – why? Because our students had to serve at Harford Glen! So our county only uses AP for public relations – they can’t be serious about it.
TP, I couldn’t agree more. Another thing some high schools do is have AP classes meet 5 days a week in fall semester. The students then are finished with the class in January, but the test isn’t until May. It’s too bad this proposed grading policy did do something to encourage taking and passing the AP test. Like you get an A in the class if you score a 5 on the test. Things like the “Best high schools” rankings (out today) only perpetuate the problem since they also only look at how many students are taking AP, not how many are passing.
Bob in all fairness this policy has been up on the internet for public comment for at least 1 month!
Bob Frisch says
Yes it was on the board web site but how many people really go there to find information about policy changes for the school system – few I am sure. If you want to give stakeholders a real opportunity for input announce these matters where the most people have a chance to be informed, such as PTA meetings, the Aegis, individual school news letters and their web sites, and even sites like The Dagger. A one month posting by the board does not cut it in my book, especially on a matter of such significance to so many. It also did not go unnoticed that the proposed grading policy was dropped from the “Hot topics” link on the board site right after a letter from a soon to be CMR high school senior voicing concerns about the new policy started making the rounds via email. These were the same concerns presented to the school board this past Monday by another CMR student along with a 600 signature petition opposing the policy change as submitted by Mr. Tomback. Why wasn’t the proposed policy left on the site until the board meeting? And why didn’t Mr. Tomback see the problems with his grading policy proposal before it was to be voted upon for final approval by the board? If Mr. Tomback approved of the policy he submitted what changed to make him withdraw the proposal? My suspicion is that we saw a little bit of democracy in action. Enough people voiced their objection to certain aspects of the proposal to give Mr. Tomback second thoughts. I maintain my position that had the policy proposal been properly vetted with real and valued input from stakeholders Mr. Tomback and the school board would not look so foolish. There are some aspects of the proposed change that I am in complete agree and would support, but that does not change my opinion of how poorly the whole matter was handled. It is also a pattern of operation I believe needs to be changed and hopefully will be when the school board is made up of elected members.
It also may be he decided that after the public comment he saw it needed some work and so back to the drawing board. That is how the process is supposed to work. There was once a time when despite the concerns they would have just passed it anyway. Additionally it was also in the newsletter anyone can subscribe to with Board of Ed News.
Bob Frisch says
This is exactly my point. That is NOT how the system is supposed to work. Where was the REAL opportunity for public input before the proposal was presented to the school board for final vote? Where was the concerted effort by the superintendent or school board to communicate the proposed policy to the general public and specific stakeholders before this point in the process? This is a case of putting the cart before the horse. Too often the prevailing attitude of education bureaucrats (some that actually know little about public education but have enough political connections to get appointments) has been to obfuscate, ignore, or be outright hostile toward community involvement in school system business.
While I would like to see everyone be more active and aware of the issues surrounding our communities the reality is that most are not. Some because they do not care, some do not see the connection between politics (at any level) and their daily lives, and others because the demands of living do not afford them the time to stay abreast of these issues as much as you and I like to do. Still others because they lack the resources or knowledge to access the information. Government, (of which the local school system gets the biggest slice of taxpayer money) cannot hide behind the cloak of minimal effort to keep its citizens informed. I believe it is governments’ responsibility to make every effort to advise and educate the public on matters that affect us all. In this regard the school system falls short because it chooses to do so. The offer to subscribe to a school system news letter simply is not enough.
The “once there was a time” attitude of the superintendent and school board that you accurately describe is exactly why we are now going to have elections for the school board this year. If Mr. Tomback’s newly found vision on HIS policy to change the grading system is an example of what public comment can do I want to see more of it. I also believe that when the elected school board members are seated a new and higher level of community involvement in school system business will be the norm and Harford County schools will be better for it.
If I recall they solicited under our old superintendent for ideas and put some parents on the comittee. I have a big issue with people who remain hands off through the design phase and complain at the end.
That said maybe during the design they could have been more transparent. Opportunities had been given and I think Tomback does a better job then Hass at this!
a teacher at PMMill says
to Joseph Caruso…
So because my compensation comes from taxpayers I have no right to a say in how schools work? That doesn’t quite make sense. It seems to be that with multiple degrees in the field of education and years of experience, I might be in a better place than you to actually know what is needed in a school. How about I come to your place of work and tell you what you need to do? Only in education do people feel like, just because they ent to school once, they can tell a teacher how to do his or her job. That being said, I am not saying all teachers deserve that trust and the system does make it way too hard to get rid of them, so let’s not twist the discussion in that way.
Where in there do I state that I either do not respect OR do not understand the accountability to parents, students, and taxpayers? I am accountable to the students’ best interest first and foremost. That will not necessarily always be what they like, though. For example, I am sure most of the students would prefer to never have homework, but I can’t honor that request simply because I am “accountable” to them because it is not in their best interest. The same goes for what parents want–if it is not what I feel is in the best interest of the child, then I am not going to do it. In the same way your doctor is accountable to you for your health, it does not mean that I have a right to tell him exactly how to do the procedure or run the test. I am not all-knowledgeable in that field, so I have to put my trust in her or him. Again, I am not saying all teachers deserve that trust, so let’s not twist the discussion in that way.
My point in saying the lines you quoted was that I do have a hard time respecting parents who speak to me as if I was their yard service, maid, or other assistant. Why would I respect someone who obviously has so little respect for me? That is a common law of humanity–you respect most those who respect you as well. These parents who treat teachers like this are most often the ones that love to flaunt the fact that they are taxpayers. I also said that the majority of parents I work with are WONDERFUL, but somehow that did not seem to register. For those parents, I bend over backwards to help them, answer their questions, etc. For the students of those parents who are rude and disrespectful to me, I work my tail off for them too. It is not their fault their parents have such an attitude.
Keep in mind you know nothing about me or my teaching, so again, let’s not make judgments about people that we know nothing about and have no personal experience with.
Joseph Caruso says
a teacher at PMMill says –
First of all you can call me Joe and you’re right I don’t know a thing about you other than what you’ve written under your pseudonym. But what you have written seems to demonstrate a contempt for taxpayers’, parents’ and students’ legitimate concerns.
Is it possible your attitude and perception are both in need of adjustment?
PMMill is just asking to be RESPECTED as a professional. Doesn’t seem an unreasonable request to me.
Which is something Joe seems to have a hard time doing if the person in question happens to work for the government…
I totally agree with you. When I taught in a Gen Ed enviornment. Some parents made me feel the same way. As well as some of the kids. Some parents felt they knew it was best to give their child a C even though they had a percentage of 69.5 and I clearly stated in my syllabus that there would be no rounding of grades.
Joe the problem is that in education someone will always be unhappy and it is the job of a good teacher to use their qualified professional judgement to do what is in the best interest of the child. Sometimes that is not what makes people happy.
a teacher at PMMill says
Specifically, how did I show contempt for taxpayers? Did you read my follow up statement? I actually feel a lot of responsibility for what I do. I totally understand that parents/families are placing their most valuable “possession” in my arms every day and are trusting/hoping that I help ther child reach the goals they have set for them. That is why, when you are doing it right, teaching can feel overwhelming because I know if I screw it up…a kid is at stake. Please don’t dare judge my commitment to my students or their families.
a teacher at PMMill says
And…additionally…I clearly stated that I do have a problem with not using weighted grades fr GPA and I am not sure the final should be a full 20%. I am certainly not “towing the company line<" but am in agreement that completing homework should not guarantee you an A. I think students need to understand that doing the homework (even if it is "only" worth 10%) is what prepares you for doing well on the assignments that constitute a larger percentage of your grade.
IM Spartcus says
To William, I would maintain to you that based on objective SAT scores that home schooling is a great option. Home schooled kids consistently out perform public school students.
To Mr. Frisch, if you are elected to the school board you & the other elected board members need to look into the unaccountable, wasteful spending of the board. Over the years the board has wasted millions of tax payer dollars & they have basically an unaccountable blank check for their operating budget. 10M has spent on VISA cards with no accounting & no receipts required in the last couple of years. No one can run their own household that way. Why should the school board of HCPS?
Bob Frisch says
To all those that have made direct or peripheral comment to my post I say thank you! This is a start to the interaction that I say needs to happen between all the stakeholders in the Harford County school system – parents, students, classroom teachers, and taxpayers that may or may not have children or relatives now attending our schools. All of us have a vested interest in seeing that Hafrord County schools be one of the best systems in Maryland. Initial conversations between groups often start out contentiously because they come to the discussion table with different experiences, views, ideas, and agendas. It is the process of discussion and sometimes argument that results in the breaking down of differences the meeting of minds and hopefully consensus in the best interest of all parties is achieved. Sometimes parties will never agree but that is part of the democratic process.
I am aware that HCPS AP scores are not where many think they should be. If we look closer at Maryland AP scores we will see that our high ranking is based on the premise that approximately 25% of MD students taking AP courses earn a passing score on at least one AP examination. This tells us that a greater number of students taking AP courses do not receive passing exam scores. To me this raises an obvious question. Why? The truth can be found by looking at who is taking AP courses. Are all of these students ready to handle the demands of an AP course? Are they ready to handle COLLEGE LEVEL work while still in high school, some as young as fourteen or fifteen? Why are school Superintendents and Boards of Education pushing so hard to raise the numbers of students taking AP courses? Are they really interested in students getting the best possible instruction or are there ulterior motives? Are those at the top looking to make “their” school systems and themselves look better? The shelf life of large system superintendents is short lived and it is not unheard of for superintendents to try to make a name for themselves at the expense of everyone else because they do not intend to be around to clean up the mess they leave behind. If the reason for pushing more students to take AP courses is because they will learn so much more than in a standard class of the same topic then why worry about pass rates at all. If the student learned more about the subject, developed better academic skills, and accepted greater responsibility and accountability for their own education should that be enough? These are honest questions that deserve serious debate and reflection by all stakeholders involved. When that happens we will be fairly certain that AP courses are being pushed for the right reasons.
True, I was not at the meeting justamom and you attended, but I can tell you I have attended similar such meetings. The description each of you offer is indicative of people frustrated with a system they feel they have little input or control over. In this case some parents and students unhappy with changes to a grading policy they did not want and your perception that teachers were shown a level of disrespect and a lack of understanding as to how difficult a job the teaching profession has become.
As for being informed I believe that I am. I am a social studies teacher in Baltimore County high school – a school that even our principal describes as “challenging.” I have heard the same slings and arrows thrown at colleagues by some uninformed parents and direct verbal assaults toward me by students that questioned my parentage to associating me with various aspects of the human anatomy. I have a core set of beliefs that I do not waiver from and those that know me would tell you that am a principled man and not afraid to tell it like it is when I feel it necessary. I had three banners made that hang in my classroom. They read, “Grades are not given in this classroom they are EARNED,” “Students EARN those grades they are WILLING to accept,” and “Education costs. Will you buy now or will you pay later.” That sums up my attitude about education. My students accept it, their parents understand it, and I live it. So I can promise you I will not jump on any topic to get attention and I will not say things that I think people want to hear just to get elected.
I am a career changer, having put twenty years in the Baltimore City Police Department and some years in private industry before I came to teaching. In my law enforcement career I had the misfortune to meet many young people who had run afoul of the law. I decided I wanted to try to reach young people before they made these same mistakes. I thought that teaching would provide the best opportunity to do so. I believe I bring valuable and varied skill sets to my classroom which benefit my students. I come to the profession with my eyes wide open, view it from multiple perspectives, and see the good and the bad in the system. My decision to run for a seat on the school board is based on my earnest desire to see our children get the best educational opportunity that Harford County can provide. All of us deserve nothing less.
I understand your concern about an elected school board, I have them too. The best we can do to make sure interest groups do not have the kind of negative influence you fear is to make sure we take a very hard look at the candidates, assess their motives for wanting the job, work together to make sure the right people are elected, and then hold them accountable at the ballot box if they do not live up to the expectations of their constituents. I think if we all do this we run much less risk of electing the wrong people for the wrong reasons.
You are right, the school board nor any other government entity should be allowed to run that way. The primary purpose of the school board is to select the school superintendent, which if done properly happens infrequently. After that the school board has the responsibility to manage the school system budget that is close to 230 million dollars this year – half of all the money in the Harford County budget. No other Harford County government entity comes close in magnitude, or in my opinion, responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers money. There is some waste in all government operations. Some expenditures are unnecessary, redundant in nature, inefficient, etc. I am concerned that the school board has in the past been too much the rubber stamp for the superintendent. School board members need to critically examine every aspect and line item of the school budget to make sure all expenditures are prudent and justified. Does the budget meet the primary goal of maximizing the return on investment, in this case the education of our children. The question that should always be asked is, What relationship does this expenditure have to maintaining or improving the education of students sitting in the classroom and the teachers delivering that instruction? If that question cannot be answered adequately then the budget should be revised to reflect only those expenditures that meet the intended goal. There is an old saying in business, “Don’t expect. Inspect.” We must do more of that.
I invite your comments, questions, critique, etc. If you prefer to contact me directly please do. I am interested in what you have to say.
Candidate for Board of Education
District A (Edgewood/Joppa/Joppatowne)
a teacher at PMMill says
Thank you for your reply. It definitely clarifies where you are coming from, and I would love to see someone who is actually an educator actually serve on the board. I also thank you for your service as a police officer. I think they get less respect than even teachers do from many people.
Bob Frisch says
There is a book by Hank Warren titled “It simply had to be said.” It is a fantastic read by someone who spent over 30 years in the classroom. He says what most of us in teaching already know, that the real impediment to education comes from grandstanding politicians, self serving education bureaucrats, and some misinformed citizens. I highly recommend it.
I firmly believe that a teachers perspective is needed on the board. I am aware that there are retired teachers on the board and I do not question their commitment and experience but much has changed in education from when they were in the classroom. We need a current perspective by those that actually have to implement the policies authorized by the board and superintendent. If you or anyone else would like to see that happen I could use your help and invite you to join my campaign, or simply voice your concerns with me. I promise that I will actually listen.
What are your feelings on home schooling? What about allowing home schoolers to attend individual classes in the public schools?
I’m a home school parent and I removed my kids from public school due to the lack of preparation for college. When my CM child had to take remedial math and English at Harford Community College based upon their entrance exam, I made the decision to home school. I’ve had three children enter HCC since that decision was made and none required remedial classes.
That said, having sent three of the eight children through the public system, choosing to home school the remaining five was an educated decision.
In other states it is common for home schooled children to be able to take individual classes in the public schools, and I’m curious what your opinion is on something like that. I know there are state laws involved here, but I would like your opinon on home schooling and open class enrollment because it helps to vet you as a candidate. It also gives me an idea of what to expect from the local pupil personnel workers if you are elected.
Bob Frisch says
I apologize for my delayed response but your question is not easily answered and I wanted to give the matter the kind of reasoned thought it deserved. I also sought the counsel of others whose educated opinion I respect before coming to my own conclusion.
Deciding to home school children is often a difficult decision for parents to make. My church serves as an umbrella organization for home school parents. So I have known several people that have decided as you have for a variety of reasons – not all of them due to negative feeling or complaints with the local school system. I respect every parent’s right to make choices concerning what is the best educational setting for their children, whether that be public or private schools or to home school.
I do not believe that parents or children forfeit their privileges to take advantage of certain aspects of the public school system because they chose not to enroll their child as a full time student. I believe that as tax payers each of us has a right to access those resources and services that elected governments create for the benefit of all citizens. That said, I could see where certain restrictions might by applied in the situation you present. Transportation to school, classroom overcrowding, student academic ability, issues concerning school behavioral rules and policies to name a few. However, I do think that every reasonable effort should be made to accommodate parents and children wanting to take advantage of specific course offerings. I am also aware that there are other options available such as cooperatives and the ever growing number of courses offered by community colleges to meet the needs of home schooled students.
I hope this response answers any questions you have regarding my position on this issue. I tried to approach your concerns with the same degree of thoughtfulness that I would any other matter coming before me should I become a member of school board.
Thanks Bob, I appreciate your time and thought on this.
Not from Here says
“However, I do think that every reasonable effort should be made to accommodate parents and children wanting to take advantage of specific course offerings.” So if you support this, Mr. Frisch, then would you also support the idea that I want my child to take four classes in the public schools and four classes at home with me? This is a slippery slope.
It is purely hypothetical; my kids were pulled out of HCPS a few years ago thanks to Board of Ed decisions. I am happy that we will have an elected board soon–unfortunately, not soon enough for our family.
Bob Frisch says
Not From Here,
I agree, a slippery slope. I believe juls was making reference to an individual class, and my response was offered from that perspective. Home schooling is a choice, sometimes a difficult one, and I would think with the knowledge and understanding that such an action is usually intended to make a complete break with an organized school system – either public or private. Requests by home school parents/students and decisions by the public school system (I do not believe this would even be a possibility at a private school) to accommodate this type of request would have to be made on a case by case basis and serve the best interests of all parties. That said I still believe the school system should attempt to honor any reasonable request. The definition of reasonable is something to be worked out between the parties.
I too am sorry that you felt the need to remove your children from our school system as it more often than not means there was a breakdown on the part of the system to meet the needs of children or expectations of parents.
I am also looking forward to an elected school board, even if it should be that I am not chosen to be a member. I still believe the elected board will be more responsive to all stakeholders involved in educating our children. Hopefully because elected members will want it to be that way, but if not because they will have to if they wish to stay in office.
What ‘board of ed’ decisions?
Not from Here says
The board of ed decisions I was referring to if your question is directed at me, ProudDemocrat, were block scheduling, redistricting, and career clusters.
This was a few years ago. At the time a plan was floated to send the juniors and seniors for Bel Air HS (classes of 2008/2009) to Patterson Mill and have them graduate from BAHS. BAHS would house 7th, 8th and 9th grades. It did not end up happening, but the idea was published in the paper at the time. Another thing that did end up happening, that I thought was a bad idea, was that the very top math students took two years of math in 10th grade to stay in the top group. That would not have been a BOE decision, but was done because of the block schedule.
For the second child, the move to career clusters made us take him out of HCPS. The whole concept is ridiculous on so many levels IF your child is going to college, which both of mine are.
But probably my biggest problem with HCPS is that there is nothing done for profoundly gifted kids. Private schools are certainly not perfect, but the two I have experience with focus on preparation for college. I would also note that both of my children have had much more experienced teachers in private school (it is sad that half of HCPS teachers have less than five years of experience).
Not from here….why do you think that they have less then 5 years experience? Probably because we are not competitive on the pay scale, a problem that gets worse with every step freeze while Baltimore County and others don’t.
Not from Here says
I really don’t know why teachers leave. And that was the figure when my kids were in HCPS (four years ago); I don’t know whether it has remained at that level. It’s not a figure HCPS wants everyone to know.
I think that a least part of the problem is that we live in an area where people have lots of options–especially those with math and science backgrounds. My next door neighbor travels to D.C. for his job; his wife works in Baltimore. Another neighbor travels to Cecil County. People can drive to Delaware as well. And because of APG, our area has not been quite as impacted by the economy.
So, if a teacher tires of the hassles of teaching or just decides it isn’t for him/her, lots of other opportunities await.
In my daughter’s private school, I think that she had two teachers in three years who had less than five years of experience. She had NO student teachers, which was great because she did not do well with either of the student teachers she encountered in HCPS. When one of her young private school teachers had a baby, the school had another teacher from the school add the class. This was more work for the teacher, but wonderful for the kids to have someone who was familiar with the school and knew the kids.
In my son’s private school, he has had two teachers in two years who have less than five years of experience. Sometimes teachers have been around too long, but both of my kids have enjoyed having teachers who have taught for a while and are truly part of the community.
I certainly would prefer to have the $120K in my bank account that our family will spend on seven years of private school. However, I think the direction HCPS has headed the last ten years has not been for the benefit of the top students. And before you go off on a “not everyone goes to college” trail, I understand that. I just think that we need to address the needs of a region of the country that needs an educated work force.
You are correct that many teachers leave within their first five years. That is when a young teacher discovers that this was or was not the career for them. Why does Harford County have a larger chunck of them (I am accepting your data). My guess is that when some of the best candidates come out of school they go where they can get better pay. That is not here. It is the same reason Pennsylvania has no problems finding teachers. More teachers graduate in PA then jobs that exist and they have excellent pay and benefits. We are on the border so we make a great farm league for PA teachers. My wife has had many co-workers who have left over time for another teaching job in PA where they wanted to be to start with.