A few words from Interim State Superintendent of Schools Bernard J. Sadusky
Great schools are special places. Terrific schools that serve our most challenging student populations are extra special.
Congratulations to Pocomoke Elementary School in Worcester County and Sandalwood Elementary School in Baltimore County, just named National Title I Distinguished Schools for the 2011-2012 school year. The schools are among the Title I schools from across the U.S. that will be honored by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of State Title I Directors in a special ceremony in Seattle, Washington, this coming January.
Title I is the largest federal aid program in K-12 education. Schools use Title I funds to improve the education of all students in high poverty areas. MSDE administers Maryland’s Title I program and nominated the two schools after a thorough review of student achievement data based on the Maryland School Assessments.
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Maryland is serious about its efforts to reduce bullying behavior on the part of students, and last month I had the chance to participate in the State’s largest professional gathering on this issue. “MD Bully Free,” MSDE’s second annual conference on the prevention of bullying and harassment, brought together teams from all 24 school systems.
Putting a stop to bad behavior is no simple matter, particularly because so much of it takes place off campus—particularly in cyberspace. But children deserve to go to class in a safe environment. Anything less diminishes the learning process.
Experts joined teachers and administrators for an all-day conference. Two of the nation’s leading experts in bullying prevention – Dr. Joseph Wright from Children’s National Medical Center and Dr. Catherine Bradshaw from Johns Hopkins University – provided participants with the latest research and strategies.
This isn’t a new issue and it isn’t going away tomorrow. But it is great to know that schools are taking this seriously. Every step taken toward bullying prevention is an important one.
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MSDE is looking for a few good parents. Nominations are now open for the fifth annual Parent Involvement Matters Awards.
This unique awards program honors parents and others with legal responsibility for a child, whose exemplary contributions to public education have led to improvements for Maryland’s public school children, teachers, schools, programs and policies.
The Parent Involvement Matters Awards program was launched to shine a spotlight on important work that too often takes place in the shadows. Our best schools have strong parent involvement, and that work is often spearheaded by an outstanding leader.
Nominations must be postmarked by January 31, 2012. For more information, click here.
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Follow MSDE on Facebook!
Don’t forget to connect with MSDE on Facebook. Our department’s Facebook page provides regular updates on state initiatives, MSDE videos, and links to education news throughout the State.
December 15-16 – Quarterly Meeting of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Washington, DC.
January 24-25, 2012 – State Board Meeting, Baltimore
News from the Board
December 6 2011
December NFTB highlights the Superintendent search, a RTTT update, a look at the Breakthrough Center to help low-performing schools, and the ongoing discussion regarding discipline. Also, two Maryland Title 1 schools are honored.
In the News
“New Website Helps Parents Understand Special Education Issues,”
WBAL Television, November 18.
“Green Ribbon Award will Help Recognize Eco-Friendly Schools,”
Washington Post, December 5.
“Gaithersburg Teacher Wins Milken Award,”
Washington Post, November 29.
“U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visits Wilde Lake High School,” Howard County
Times/Baltimore Sun, November 22.
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STATE BOARD RECOMMENDS IMPROVED ACADEMICS FOR ATHLETES, LOOKS AT DISCIPLINE
The Maryland State Board of Education this week continued to look for new ways to strengthen classroom performance.
National Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer discusses student discipline and education policies (left), along with Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English and Maryland Teacher of the Year Joshua Parker.
The State Board recommended a minimum 2.0 grade point for students participating in interscholastic athletics. In addition, Board members continued their look at local system student suspension policies with a focus on maintaining educational progress for students who have been disciplined.
The grade point recommendation came at the behest of the Maryland General Assembly, which earlier this year required that the State Board recommend a statewide standard for minimum academic performance for athletes. The 2.0 grade point standard was the recommendation of a committee established by the Maryland Public School Athletic Association.
Interim State Superintendent Bernard Sadusky said the recommended standard should provide incentive to athletes to stay on track with their studies. “There is no athlete who wants to sit on the sidelines because of grades,” he said. “This is a minimum. Most of our student athletes will surpass that.”
The State Board has been focused on keeping students on track for graduation, one of the reasons for its detailed look over the past several months at student discipline and local system provisions for educational services during long-term suspensions and expulsions. This week it welcomed National Teacher of the Year Michelle Shearer, current Maryland Teacher of the Year Joshua Parker, and representatives from the Maryland State Education Association and the Baltimore Teachers Union to discuss the issue.
Shearer, a teacher at Urbana High School in Frederick County, said that lost time in the classroom means lost educational opportunity. “I teach chemistry. It is a subject students can’t learn on their own,” she said. Long-term suspensions cause difficulty for the students who must catch up, as well as for teachers who must determine ways to provide lost instruction.
Baltimore Teachers Union President Marietta English emphasized that school systems must take great care to maintain a safe environment for students and teachers. She suggested that clear discipline codes be developed and followed by each system and school.
Parker, who teaches English at Windsor Mill Middle School in Baltimore County, said he understands the need to keep schools safe. At the same time, he said, schools must have a philosophy that “each student matters,” and try to meet the educational needs accordingly.
Maryland student athletes are currently required to be "making satisfactory progress toward graduation" before being allowed to participate in interscholastic sports. The Maryland General Assembly has asked the State Board to add some specificity to those regulations.
MARYLAND BEGINS SEARCH
FOR GREEN RIBBON SCHOOLS
Maryland has many schools that have learned how to save energy and reduce costs; provide a healthy environment for students and staff; and promote environmental literacy. Now those schools will have the chance to be nationally recognized.
Green Ribbon Schools Program
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has joined the National Green Ribbon Schools Program, recently launched by the U.S. Department of Education. As a result, MSDE has begun a statewide search for outstanding environmental schools.
"The greatest privilege we have in our short time on this planet is to make the world a better place for the next generation," said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “Maryland has become a national leader in public education and in giving our children the tools they need to build a more sustainable future. We are pleased that our schools will get an opportunity to be nationally-recognized for their efforts to create a cleaner, greener and healthier planet."
Maryland Interim State Superintendent Bernard Sadusky said he expects a great deal of interest in the new Green Ribbon program. “Our schools have long felt a connection to the world around them,” Dr. Sadusky said. “The outdoors is a natural extension of the classroom for many of our students. We look forward to participating in this valuable program.”
Public and private schools are eligible for the honor, patterned after the long-running National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The U.S. Department of Education took several months designing the program, calling this first competition a "pilot year."
Maryland has developed a national reputation as an environmental education leader, and this year became the first State in the nation to include environmental literacy as a graduation requirement. The State currently boasts 398 "green schools,” and 32 “green centers," designations bestowed by the Green Schools and Centers Initiative sponsored by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education. Schools gain that recognition by using the environment as context for learning, demonstrating best management practices, and establishing community partners.
The new federal Green Ribbon Schools program encourages schools to:
- Implement energy conservation measures that pave the way for reduced environmental impact, cost savings, and job creation;
- Undertake environmental and behavioral changes in schools that ensure the health, wellness, and productivity of students, teachers, and staff, and;
- Promote environmental education that supports students’ strong civic skills, environmental stewardship, and workforce preparedness.
MSDE will release applications in mid-December. Interested schools will complete the applications and submit them to MSDE for review by February 27, 2012. After review of the applications, MSDE will nominate up to four schools to the U.S. Department of Education for the Green Ribbon designation. At least one nominee will be from a public school with a 40 percent economically disadvantaged population, and at least one will be a private school.
Honorees will be announced next April.