November 1, 2005

Dear Delegates and local PTA Leadership:

    At last Tuesday's  Delegates' Assembly, participants were asked to share information about their local school priorities by putting colored dots next to the issues included on the  list of potential advocacy priorities.   

    I have taken the input from the Delegates' Assembly and revised the list of potential advocacy priorities (which is pasted below).  All additional issues whether sent by e-mail or written on in person at the Assembly have been incorporated into the list.  

    This revised  list has been reordered to reflect the feedback from the Assembly.  Within each category, the issues are listed in order from top to bottom depending upon how many "dots" were placed next the item--those that received the largest response are listed at the top of the category and the issues follow in descending order. Please note that no issues have been eliminated at this stage, however, issues which received NO votes are listed in italics.   In addition, the categories have been re-ordered. I kept all the curriculum categories together(elementary/middle/high school) as the curriculum category overall received the most combined attention.  The other categories (such as facilities, accountability) are listed in order based upon total "dots" within the category.  I have not attached any final tally numbers as I am still  receiving e-mail input and will hold off on final numbers until the November Delegate Assembly. You are being provided this revised list so your community can see which issues have drawn the most common response across the county so far.

      There will be a final opportunity to ask questions (and discuss whether the list should be further narrowed) at the November Delegate Assembly.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact me directly.

 Thanks.

Shirley Brandman, VP for Educational Issues

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 REVISED   DRAFT Advocacy Issues for MCCPTA Advocacy 2005-06 (as of 11/1/05)

 

ACADEMIC CONCERNS – Elementary School:

·        Lack of a well rounded curriculum: Emphasis on reading, writing, arithmetic to the exclusion of a rich science, social studies, arts and other curriculum

·        Need for Math Specialists (like Reading Specialists) in all elementary schools to provide early intervention for students especially with increased demands of new math curriculum 

·        Too much time devoted to teaching to the “test” for standardized testing

·        Overcrowded classes with inadequate aide and/or resource support

·        Need to increase number of  physical education (PE) periods per week

·        Need to develop more appropriate class size guidelines that are absolute caps on class size

·        Inconsistent expectations of students – need for uniformly high expectations that all students will succeed and will have their needs met including Special Education, ESOL, Gifted/Talented

·        Inadequate attention to vertical articulation planning – more attention needed to ensure that students receive necessary foundational instruction in elementary to be academically ready for  later curriculum options (example: preparing students for Math A in Middle School)

·        Need to make academic intervention/support such as summer learning opportunities available to all students based on need and not limit resource allocation to Title I schools

·        Poorly planned curriculum implementation—lack of adequate resources for teachers and inadequate communication with parents during roll out of new curriculum

·        Inadequate range of placement  alternatives to meet the needs of special education students including curtailing of the home school model

·        Inadequate time for lunch: re-align lunch periods to accommodate  increased demands of larger population

·        Inadequate attention to problem of bullying in character education curriculum

·        Inadequate attention and response to the data confirming a tremendous gap in achievement between African American and Hispanic students and white students within special education despite the fact that each of these students, regardless of race, has an individualized education plan

·        Lowering Art, Music, PE student:staff ratios to account for the increased number of class sections generated by lower class size initiatives and the reduction of class size guidelines

·        Academic challenges posed by split articulation in schools does not receive adequate planning and attention

 

ACADEMIC CONCERNS – Middle School:

 

·        Teachers who lack the necessary qualifications are being asked to teach high school courses in middle school

·        Lack of opportunity to take the arts (art, drama) in MS if student takes band/foreign language

·        Grading and reporting – continued confusion about its application, including the role of homework and participation,  and need for specific action/intervention plan for students not meeting standard

·        Inadequate attention to vertical articulation planning – more attention needed to ensure that students receive necessary foundational instruction in elementary and middle school to be academically ready for  later curriculum options

·        Frequent curriculum changes  and lack of textbooks

·        Overly large classes

·        Inadequate academic rigor in middle school curriculum—attention to emotional and developmental needs though appropriate cannot be to the exclusion of  rigorous academic standards

·        Inconsistent expectations of students – need for uniformly high expectations that all students will succeed and will have their needs met including Special Education, ESOL, Gifted/Talented

·        Eliminate unnecessary barriers to entry into GT classes: Too wide a gap between regular and GT classes

·        Inadequate after school options and lack of transportation and other resources to support after school participation

·        Academic challenges posed by split articulation in schools does not receive adequate planning and attention

 

ACADEMIC CONCERNS – High School:

·        Inconsistent expectations of students – need for uniformly high expectations that all students will succeed and will have their needs met including Special Education, ESOL, Gifted/Talented

·        Grading and reporting – continued confusion about its application, including role of homework and participation and need for specific action/intervention plan for students not meeting standard

·        Overly large classes: teacher: student ratios are too high

·        Failure to devote adequate attention/resources to the large number of students not meeting basic academic standards (below a 2.0 GPA) who then become academically ineligible 

·        Increase attention and resources to students who fail at the 9th grade to anticipate and avoid risk of later drop out

·        Failure to offer rigorous courses to all high school students irrespective of their local community

·        Inconsistency in course offerings across county

·        Need to allow for meaningful parent participation in discussion/design of alternative high school program options

·        Eliminate unnecessary barriers to entry into GT classes: Too wide a gap between regular and GT classes

·        Improved transportation of HS athletes to their events--so they miss less school

·        Frequent curriculum changes and lack of textbooks

 

FACILITIES CONCERNS:

 

 

STAFFING AND SUPPORT SERVICE CONCERNS:

·        Overuse of substitute teachers in the classroom during academic year teacher training

·        Need for Assistant Principals in every school to address growing administrative burdens

·        Inadequate guidance counselors/PPW staff to address myriad social/emotional/developmental needs at the elementary, middle and high school level

·        Need for additional resources and training geared toward better integration of special education students into the mainstream 

·        Overly large schools – tendency toward larger and larger school capacity may hurt educational program

·        Need for greater diversity in MCSP staff --inadequate number of Spanish speaking teachers/staff in MCPS

·        Lack of appropriate process for a school community to address problem of an underperforming/inadequate principal

·        High rates of teacher turn over  and high turnover in principals -- inadequate attention to retention and stability

·        Lack of clarity in the role of the Community Superintendent and need for better communication/access between local community and the Community Superintendent

·        Decreasing availability of wrap around services (comprehensive social services to support health and welfare of child and family such as Linkages to Learning) to attend to physical and emotional health needs of children

 

SAFETY/HEALTH CONCERNS:

 

PARENT INVOLVEMENT/COMMUNICATION CONCERNS:

ACCOUNTABILITY CONCERNS: