Thanks to the Parents’ Coalition, a January 8, 2010 memorandum from Superintendent Weast to the Board of Education has come to light. In the memo, Weast answers some questions from unidentified Board members about his proposed FY 2011 Budget cuts.
I’ll leave aside the point well made by the Parents Coalition,
that the cuts to academic intervention teachers and paraeducators are not justified one way or another based on any studies or data. I’ll even leave aside the non-answer to the question: “Please break down how the special program teachers will be reduced by school and program. Describe the specific impact of these cuts on each special program and school.
No, I’m going to focus on Question 7 (page 4), which asks about the impact on “each optional regular education program and impacted school proposed for the elimination of transportation.” The answer, in a nutshell, is that transportation costs $942 per student, and yes, fewer students would attend if transport were cut but they would still have the “opportunity” to attend. They would just have to get themselves there. Oh, and yes, cutting consortia transport was considered, “but the consortia are not optional programs. The school the student selects is the assigned school and transportation must be provided.” [emphasis added]
Pardon me if I am slackjawed. Consortia programs absolutely are optional. As a commenter posted a few days ago, what really is the difference between Entrepreneurship & Business Management (Blair) and Finance, Business Management, and Marketing (Einstein)? And no matter what, students can always opt for their base schools–they’re assured a place there. They call it the Division of Consortia Choice and Application Program Services for a reason.
So can we get something straight right now? Magnets and Center Programs and yes, I’ll got out on a limb and say that even the RM IB, are not “optional.” They are part of the much vaunted MCPS “continuum of gifted services.” They are for “students whose needs cannot be met at the home school.” They are not some frill, some “extra,” some “goodie.” Here’s what Policy IOA says:
Children with special abilities and talents are part of the human mosaic in our schools and communities. They typically learn at a pace and depth that set them apart from the majority of their same-age peers. Because they have the potential to perform at high levels of accomplishment and have unique affective and learning style needs when compared with others of their age, they require instructional and curricular adjustments that can create a better match between their identified needs and the educational services they typically receive. [emphasis added] (Section B)
For students who require a markedly different programming, centers for highly
gifted and other special programs including magnet programs will continue to be provided, and new programs will be developed as needed. (Section C 3 c)
Finally there is this:
The superintendent shall direct implementation of this policy and specifically shall ensure that every school has a program that meets its requirements. Among the specific actions the superintendent will take are the following:
8. Prepare budget requests that provide adequate resources to implement the policy
Of course there is lots in Policy IOA that has never been carried out–that’s why they wanted to scrap it. However the fact remains: You take away transportation and you effectively kill the magnets, centers and immersion programs.
Don’t let it happen. Sign the petitions here and here. (Who knows if they’ll have any impact. At minimum the comments are inspiring.). And be sure to come to the Board of Education hearing on Wednesday night, 7 p.m.
Here’s a notice that’s been floating around some school listservs… Please repost.
TOMORROW: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20th at 7pm
BOE Meeting on Proposed MCPS Operating Budget
Carver Educational Services Center
850 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850
Testimony will include Blair PTSA co-chair and others within our cluster. We need your presence. Students are especially encouraged to attend. This is Civics in action!
Wear yellow to protest cuts in transportation for special programs. Wear red to support Blair. Wear both if you can!
Whether you can make it to the meeting or not, please write to the Board to let them know that these cuts are unacceptable and damaging to the integrity of appropriate academic opportunity for all students. Then continue to write to the County Council and your representatives in Annapolis.