With BCPS’s new school board in place, some are breathing a sigh of relief

November 27 Baltimore Post editorial.

When it comes to Baltimore County Public Schools’ (BCPS) new school board, some are breathing a sigh of relief. And while there may be disagreement on the reasons why that is, one thing is certain: for many of those who have been paying attention over the last six years, the new group of new and incumbent board members is seen as a new dawn, a new day and a very welcome new beginning.

 

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Gov. Hogan Appoints Four Members to New Hybrid School Board

On November 26, Gov. Hogan appointed four at-large members to serve on the new Baltimore County hybrid school board. These members will join the candidates elected to represent the County’s seven councilmanic districts.  The 12th member is the student member of the board.

Read this Baltimore Post article about it.

Read the Baltimore Sun’s article about it.

The new board will meet for the first time on December 11th. When available, the agenda and Livestream link to watch the meeting online will be posted here.

S.T.A.T. Year Four Evaluation Report

At the October 23, 2018 Board of Education meeting, S.T.A.T. evaluator Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform in Education (CREE) presented the program’s Year Four evaluation. The report’s summary notes:

The impacts of S.T.A.T. on student achievement remain encouraging but still indeterminate given the still relatively short duration of the initiative. Arguably, the primary goal of technology integration is to prepare students for using 21st century learning tools independently and skillfully to increase interest in learning and readiness for postsecondary and career success. Raising performance on standardized achievement tests is also a desirable goal, but one affected by many factors such as core curricula, supplementary educational programing (e.g., after-school, enrichment, and remedial support), school resources, and student characteristics. Importantly, most teachers and principals, particularly those in the most experienced cohorts, continue to hold positive perceptions of the initiative’s impact on CCSS mastery, while acknowledging that measurable impacts on student PARCC or MAP achievement are not yet clear.”

“As the initiative has expanded, so have certain challenges intrinsic to student-centered learning in general and classroom technology integration in particular. When students learn independently and collaboratively, opportunities for students to engage in off-task and disruptive behavior can increase relative to teacher-directed instruction. Recreational activity during class, such as playing games, surfing the Internet, and communicating with peers via cell phones or social media, may prove challenging for teachers, inexperienced in technology integration, to control.”

“Future improvement needs and recommendations include continuing to (a) expand professional development support for teachers on student-centered and P21 instructional practices; and (b) implement strategies to prevent and address student off-task behaviors while using devices, both laptops and cell phones. We also suggest the district revisits the policy allowing students to take devices home each day.”

Read the full report here.

Read the report’s addendum here.

Review the JHU presentation here.

“Not legal,” says state agency regarding Baltimore County schools’ mass record purge

More great work from local journalist Ann Costantino.

nearly 2,700 financial disclosure statements were destroyed over two separate days … The purge occurred one week after the system’s former superintendent, S. Dallas Dance, was sentenced to jail for perjury after providing misleading information on his disclosure forms about money he earned consulting for companies and other school districts.

The article offers this timeline:

In November, Maryland State Senator Jim Brochin urged the state school board to intervene and conduct an immediate audit of the system’s technology contracts. The New York Times published Brochin’s plea.

In December, four Baltimore County school board members requested a state board audit. Later that month, the board members called on legislators to conduct an emergency legislative audit.

In February, all seven Baltimore County Councilmembers requested a 2012-2017 state legislative audit of the district’s no-bid contracts with education technology firms, procurement process and ancillary costs associated with the contracts (e.g., travel, professional development, perks/promotions, and other financial transactions deemed appropriate).

In March, three Baltimore County Councilmembers urged Gov. Larry Hogan to initiate an independent audit of the school system when councilmembers realized an audit still had not been initiated.

On April 20: Former Superintendent Dallas Dance was sentenced to jail for perjury.

On April 27: Baltimore County schools’ law office would purge nearly 2,400 disclosure records that spanned 1997 up through 2014.

In May, the school system hired an audit firm to conduct its own audit. The scope would include years 2012-2017.

In August, 315 more pre-2014 disclosure records would be purged

Read more here.

Dallas Dance’s Case Leads to Effort to Increase Ed-Tech Vendor/School System Relationship Transparency

The ISTE conference, the self-proclaimed “Epicenter of EdTech,” is held annually.  ISTE 2018 took place at the end of June in Chicago.  As reported by EdWeek’s Market Brief, the year’s conference included a new focus:

“One thing that will be different at ISTE this year is a fresh effort to increase transparency around the relationships between ed-tech vendors and school administrators and teachers. The issue appeared repeatedly in the headlines this school year, with the New York Times taking a critical look at teachers serving as company “brand ambassadors” and former Baltimore County, Md., superintendent Dallas Dance sentenced to 6 months in jail for not disclosing consulting work.”

One good thing from the Dance Era.

Read the entire article here.

Sound Familiar? “Schools across America running up six-figure tabs for hotels, airline costs”

This issue was reported on here quite a while back.  Education conferences are big business.

“The K-12 education conference industry is huge and lucrative.

Just do a Google search on “education conferences” and you will get countless listings for annual events throughout the nation – and sometimes in other countries – that education professionals are strongly encouraged to attend.

The headlines say things like “100 Best Education Conferences to Attend in 2018,” and “2018 Can’t Miss Education Conferences.”

Public schools respond to all the hype and send employees and officials to the events in droves. And the cost to taxpayers is massive, particularly in the form of travel costs.

As part of our latest series titled “School Spending Spree,” EAGnews.org sent public information requests to randomly selected districts throughout the nation, seeking information about tax dollars spent on travel in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The response we received from many districts was breathtaking.”

Read more here on the EAGNews.org website.

“EAGnews.org is the flagship website of Education Action Group Foundation, Inc., a national organization headquartered in Michigan. EAG is a non-partisan non-profit organization with the goal of promoting sensible education reform and exposing those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”

Daily updates on edtech and beyond

Image result for photos free education technology

A new Twitter feed, with current links and stories on education technology, arts & sciences, and the evolution of digital culture and counter culture. Link here.

Recent news includes: Jun 20

Feel free to follow and send along ideas, links and stories…

— JCS