The Montgomery County school system is in decline compared to other states. This is not being acknowledged by our elected officials. Statewide, Maryland is now ranked about “average,” according to the National Education Assessment Progress, commonly known as The Nation’s Scorecard. Montgomery County high schools have been losing ground in the national rankings for the past decade. Further, we are making no progress on the Achievement Gap no matter how it is defined.
This is unacceptable – not only because education is so critical, but because we already have the roadmap for making needed progress. This roadmap are the education reform strategies already used successfully throughout the country. Other states and jurisdictions have shown that we can improve outcomes for struggling students and enhance the educational opportunities and quality for the highest-achieving students at the same time -- and at a much lower cost than we spend in Montgomery County.
Our education solutions must include:
- Introducing REAL EDUCATION REFORM so that we can finally improve overall student performance and provide quality education for the least advantaged of our schoolchildren without arbitrary quotas and programs that don’t work. These must include:
- Parental empowerment and school choice.
- Educational alternatives, such as public charter schools.
- Giving our schools to ability to attract and reward our best teachers. commensurately, as well as retrain or remove the lowest performing teachers;
- Respecting our teachers by giving them more autonomy and creative freedom, while reducing their ever-growing administrative burdens;
- Ending misguided and counterproductive policies such as:
- Overly accommodating grading and discipline policies to restore rigor;
- Ending grading policies that lower standards and encourage students to “game” the system instead of studying and learning -- such as giving students 50% simply for writing their names on exams.
- Bringing back teacher-created final exams that were eliminated by the county Board of Education;
- Reducing school construction costs by at least 25 percent (some jurisdictions build schools at half the cost), beginning with recommendations recently made by the Office of Legislative Oversight - so we have money to spend on more worthwhile educational initiatives.