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Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A while back, the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) were released. This test measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. The results of American children can be found here.
The following is an article by The Washington Post's Jay Matthews about U.S. test scores.
Are math scores lagging because U.S. parents are clueless?By Jay MathewsI stumbled across one of those charming surveys with too small a sample to depend on, but a result interesting enough -- and close enough to possible -- to blog on anyway. It suggests that the kids in Singapore are stealing our lunch money in the race for math supremacy because their parents hire tutors far more often than we do, and because their parents have a less inflated sense of their math skills than U.S. parents do.
The survey of 1,114 parents of children ages 10-14 was conducted in 2010 by a team of researchers working for the Raytheon Co. and a Boston firm called Eduventures Inc. There were only 561 parents from the United States, 311 from England and 272 from Singapore participating, but the researchers apparently felt that gave them at least a faint suggestion of what might explain the fact that Singapore students’ average math scores are significantly above those of U.S. students. What do you think?
In Singapore, the researchers said, 42 percent of parents report the use of tutors for math help, compared with 10 percent of parents in the United States.That doesn't mean those American 10- to 14-year-olds aren't getting extra help with their math homework. Seventy-seven percent of U.S. parents said family members helped the children, usually about one or two hours a week.
Let's give a cheer for involved parents before we review the evidence suggesting that mom and dad may not be the best tutors, or the best judges of the worth of their assistance. More than half said they "believe they have high ability to help their children with fractions, division, and math word problems." Seventy-two percent said they "know the level of math education my child needs to succeed in college."
The researchers, phrasing their conclusions gently, said: "Evidence suggests U.S. parents may be overly confident or lacking in the use of accurate metrics around math performance and college preparedness. For example, 78 percent of U.S. parents report their children's math performances are in the top 20 percent compared to peers in school."
There is more bad news for us otherwise good-hearted American parents, proud of our kids and eager to help. The researchers discovered that 51 percent of Singapore parents had received instruction from educators about how to help their children with math. In the United States and England, only 25 percent of parents reported receiving similar instruction.
About a third of Singapore students had participated in math competitions, the parents reported. Only 20 percent of the English parents and 9 percent of the American parents said the same.U.S. educators appear to think that our kids need more help in math, as well as other subjects. Parents agree. Now we have to figure out if the help we are giving them is really helping much.
The following is an article by The Washington Post's Jay Matthews about U.S. test scores.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The timeline below shows how the search will be conducted. Right now, we're still very early in the process. However, I'd like to know what characteristics you guys would value in your future superintendent, and what priorities you think he or she should have. Send me an email at Alan_Xie@mcpsmd.org, or leave a comment! I'll be updating the blog periodically to discuss our progress in the search.
- No new services or initiatives
- No across-the-board class size increases
- No Cost of Living Increases (COLAs) for employees for the 3rd year in a row
- MCPS employees have agreed to forgo COLAs for the past two years, and voted to give up step increases last year - saving us $115 million annually
- Meets Maintenance of Effort: state law requiring the county to fund education at the same per-student level of $10,664 from FY 2010 (because MOE was waived during FY 2011)
- If the county doesn't fund the budget at MOE, MCPS will likely be penalized with the loss of $28 million in increased state aid
- 2.8% budget increase ($59.6 million) to account for a 2.3% growth in enrollment and loss of federal stimulus funds
- Loss of $54 million in funds from the federal stimulus package, leaving us a "funding cliff"
- Currently, the number of students considered Limited English Proficient is 18,793
- The number of students receiving Free or Reduced-Price Meals (FARMS) is at 45,196 - nearly one-third of MCPS students
- MCPS was named a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the highest presidential honor an American organization can receive for performance excellence through innovation, improvement, and visionary leadership
- MCPS was selected as a finalist for the Broad Prize for Urban Education, which recognizes large school systems that have improved student performance while narrowing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps
Monday, December 27, 2010
If you haven't already seen it, here's the SMOB Tumblr: http://mocosmob.tumblr.com.
It's a compilation of pictures from everyday school life, and we're hoping to expand it and make it a part of the blog as well.
Have a fun winter break!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
He has recommended a $2.163 billion budget that complies with Maintenance of Effort. This is an increase of $59.6 million, or 2.8% from the FY 2011 budget. It is important to remember that this budget requires additional local funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funds (ARRA).
It is projected that we will have 3,340 additional students in FY 2012, and an increase of $17.2 million is used to cover these costs. However, there are no new initiatives or programs. In addition, there will be no across-the-board class size increase.
To read the Budget in Brief, click here.
To read the full budget, click here. It is a very large file and may take a long time to load/may crash your computer.
If you have any questions about the budget, don't hesitate to send me an email at Alan_Xie@mcpsmd.org.
A final note: I will be creating a short, 1 minute video about the budget in the next several weeks. It will be sent out to all MCPS middle and high schools in January. An in-depth blog post about the budget is also coming up!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Here's some clarification on these bills:
This bill would give the Montgomery County SMOB full voting rights (except negative personnel). I want as many students as possible to lobby the General Assembly for the passing of this bill, and to show up at the hearing. This will show that we care, and help us finally achieve (almost) full voting rights!
This bill would repeal the prohibition on bus fees in Montgomery County. However, there are a few issues regarding this bill that need to be addressed. This bill is NOT instituting bus fees. The Board of Education has NO plans on the table or in the pipeline to institute bus fees. This bill simply puts Montgomery County on level footing with the other counties in Maryland by repealing the prohibition on bus fees. In Maryland, 23 out of 24 counties currently do not prohibit bus fees.
This bill would create a unified process for the construction, remodeling, and placement of MCPS buildings. It would give only Montgomery County government the authority to issue permits and enforce regulations and codes, benefiting MCPS immensely.
I encourage youth to please come to observe or testify on December 6th! You can sign up here, call 410-841-3010/301-858-3010, or email email@example.com. Thanks!
Here's an idea of what's happened so far:
- On October 6th, the Board of Education met with the MCAAP (Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals) and discussed several issues, including the change to state law regarding evaluation systems and the FY 2012 budget.
- On October 6th, I also met with the MCJC Executive Board and discussed the MCAAP meeting. On the 7th, I met with the MCR Executive Board.
- The Board of Education met on October 12th. At this meeting, we approved the Comprehensive Master Plan and discussed Wellness in MCPS, specifically the 12-week health and fitness competition called MCPS on the Move, a program between MCPS and Kaiser Permanente. We also discussed the nutrition of school lunches.
- The Board of Education's 14th Annual Distinguished Service to Education Awards Ceremony was held on October 21st. Congratulations to all of our amazing recipients! They have truly made outstanding contributions to public education and children in Montgomery County.
- The Board of Education held another meeting on October 25th. During this meeting, we took action on the sale of the former site of Robert E. Peary HS. In addition, staff updated the Board on a pilot program: Student Instructional Program Planning and Implementation (SIPPI).
- On October 27th, the Board of Education met with MCCPTA (Montgomery County COuncil of Parent Teacher Associations) leadership and discussed community engagement and communication.
- On October 13th and 28th, the Board of Education held two Community Roundtable events. They were a huge success!
- On October 29th, I attended the MCJC General Assembly at Eastern MS. It was a pleasure to return to my old middle school and talk to students from around the county, and I enjoyed the experience very much. I also attended the MCR General Assembly at Blair HS on November 4th. On November 8th I attended the MCJC Executive Board meeting, and on the 9th I attended the MCR Executive Board meeting.
- The Board of Education met on November 9th and voted on the 2011-2012 school calendar and approved several pilot courses. In addition, staff updated the Board on the K-12 Mathematics Work Group. Finally, the Board of Education voted on its Legislative Platform. We voted unanimously to support SMOB voting rights, and the Board also voted to support MC 7-11, the local bill sponsored by Delegates Kaiser and Hucker that would give the SMOB full voting rights (except negative personnel).
- On November 10th, I attended a meeting with the Montgomery County Commission on Children and Youth. This meeting was an open forum discussion among youth about stress, with many adults acting as observers. The event was a huge success and I encourage youth to attend next year.
- The Board of Education held two Facilities Hearings on November 10th and 11th, and the community came out in full force to provide testimony. Decisions on boundaries were made on November 18th. A short summary can be found here.
- On November 16th, the Policy Committee held its first meeting of the year. We discussed Policy IED, regarding Framework and Structure of High School Education. In addition, we discussed Policy JEE, regarding Student Transfers.
- The Board of Education also met with the Montgomery County Delegation on November 16th. Though some legislators were unable to attend, the meeting was still very important. The Board discussed Maintenance of Effort, the budget, and local bills that it endorsed (MC 10-11 and MC 11-11).
- I met with the SMOB Council for the second time on November 17th. At this meeting, we planned outreach with high school newspapers and testimony for educational legislation such as SMOB voting rights.
That's all for now!
Monday, October 4, 2010
I'm pleased to announce that I will be holding a county-wide student Town Hall at Richard Montgomery High School on Monday, October 18th, from 6 PM to 8 PM. This event will be a way for students around the county to express their concerns and opinions in an open forum, and allow them to communicate with the SMOB and understand the work that is being done.
The SMOB Council will be working diligently to plan this event, and we hope to see a diverse group of people from across the board. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there!
Please spread the word about this!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Hopefully, we'll get the Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook more active within the next few months!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
The reasoning behind this change and possible effects are still unknown. Yet this change poses several questions. Do the new changes in AP scoring actually disadvantage certain groups at the expense of others? Also, should blind guessing be allowed on exams that measure content mastery (as opposed to skill mastery)?
MCPS is home to more than 142,000 students. As student leaders, we will act in the best interests of each one of these students in order to promote the welfare of our school system as a whole. We have carefully analyzed the decisions and policies of our elected officials, and have a thorough understanding of which candidates have contributed significant legislation to education. This past year has been fiscally challenging for the school system, and we hope that during this next year and the ones that follow, we will be able to maintain the world-class quality of education within MCPS. Although we will not officially endorse specific candidates in any race, these elections will have a significant impact on our education for years to come. We are paying close attention to the races and are extremely sensitive to the current political climate.
In the spirit of increasing political advocacy, we are also encouraging all eligible students in Montgomery County to register to vote in the coming months. Through collaboration with local student leaders we hope to coordinate an early voter registration drive in schools at the beginning of the school year.
We applaud the students of Montgomery County for their advocacy and encourage them to continue promoting student involvement in important issues. This election is an important step towards a new future for education and student empowerment; we are proud to be taking that step together, as a community, as a county, and as students of MCPS.
Mr. Alan Xie
Student Member, Board of Education
Mr. Daniel Arias
President, Montgomery County Region
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
- Stephen N. Abrams, a three-term Board of Education member, passed away on August 1st. His passion for education has created a lasting impact on MCPS, and he will be commemorated by the Board of Education at their next meeting, on August 26th. I offer my deepest sympathies to Mr. Abrams’ wife, family, and friends.
- Dr. Jerry Weast, superintendent of MCPS, has announced that he will retire at the end of his current contract, on June 30th, 2011. Dr. Weast has made remarkable achievements during his tenure, and is the second-longest serving superintendent in MCPS history. To read his memorandum to the Board of Education regarding this, click here.
- Maryland is among ten winners in Phase 2 of the "Race to the Top" education grant initiative, winning $250 million in federal grants. The other winners are D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island. The two Phase 1 winners were Delaware and Tennessee.
- Last week, I attended New Board Member Orientation at MABE (the Maryland Association of Boards of Education). I met almost all of the other SMOBs/SROBs from other counties in Maryland, as well as the state SMOB. We hope to achieve a lot this year through our continued collaboration.
- With the arrival of school also comes the fall elections. Youth are playing a larger role in today's politics, and I encourage all eligible youth to register to vote and participate in the political process.
Good luck to everyone with their new school year! I hope to see as many students as possible this year during school visits, SGA events, and the like.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Interested in student advocacy, leadership, politics, or playing a role in the decision making process of your education? Apply to join the SMOB Council!
Detailed descriptions of each staff's responsibilities are here.
To apply, click here.
All applicants will be contacted for phone interviews. Applications close Saturday, September 11th at 11:59:59 PM.
I appreciate everyone's commitment and dedication to our mutual cause, and hope to have a successful year working with the Council!
Friday, July 9, 2010
From the MCPS website:
The Montgomery County Board of Education established the Awards for Distinguished Service to Public Education in 1997 to recognize and show appreciation to individuals, groups, and businesses that have made exemplary contributions to public education in Montgomery County.
Up to three awards will be made in each of the following categories:
-- Community Individual
-- Community Group
-- Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Staff
-- School Service Volunteer
-- Individual Pioneer
Who Can Be Nominated? (Eligibility)
The Individual Pioneer Award is presented to an individual who may not be active currently, but who has made extraordinary contributions in the past, and whose impact has had a profound systemwide effect on MCPS over the years. The other awards go to an individual (including MCPS students), group, or business that has, within the past three years, provided sustained service, support, and commitment to public education, as demonstrated by:
-- An outstanding contribution of time and expertise to MCPS programs
-- The development and/or implementation of an exemplary program or project
-- A contribution that results in systemwide benefit
Who Can Submit a Nomination?
Any person or group may submit nominations. Nominations for the awards are sought from the general community as well as community organizations, businesses, the superintendent of schools, and members of the Montgomery County Board of Education.
Online Nomination Form
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
This marks my first post on this blog, with hopefully many more to come. The design and layout of the blog have been adjusted, and the Facebook and Twitter have been updated as well.
For students who are interested in applying for the SMOB 2.0 Council, more information will be posted regarding position information, applications, and meeting dates. I'm looking forward to working with everyone this coming year!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Exactly one year ago, in a building displaying banners of excellence and a room drenched with an aroma of expectations, I walked into this very same room, with a bead of trepidation making its way down my back, with the weight of responsibility and anticipation of an entire county on my shoulders. But in the course of this one year, my beliefs about the school system have not changed much. My belief that the hard work of teachers, staff, and administration and the open minds of a student body ready and willing to learn provides the fundamental engine of a world class education system, is just as strong, if not stronger today. So I am here today, a product of this school system, humbled by the opportunity to have served the students of Montgomery County and honored by the opportunity to have worked alongside the dedicated and passionate staff and members of the MCPS Board of Education.
It is with this belief and experience that I continue the tradition of passing on the torch to the next leader of the students. I have gotten to know Alan through his experience in Student Government, and just like all the student members before him, I am confident that he will be able to take on the burdens of responsibility and advocacy, cherish them, and reach new heights. I would be amiss if I did not mention and recognize Nick Maggio, as well, who gracefully ran against Alan in the past election. Both candidates provided strong leadership and experience and it serves as a testament to the strength and caliber of student leadership in our county.
I thank my family and friends for putting up with my ridiculous schedule as well as all of the great staff members and members of the Board office who have helped me learn and achieve every step of the way. And of course I would like to thank each and every one of my former colleagues on the Board of Education for providing me the opportunity to learn under your excellent leadership and example. We may not always have agreed on issues or practices, but the civil attitude and willingness to work together is something that is something to be rivaled in many other governmental organizations and decision making bodies.
Last year, I spoke of one of my friends, Jeff Sy. Jeff came here from very modest means. His father would drive 4 hours a day to his work to put food on the table and provide for a small two-bedroom apartment where Jeff could study with his two siblings. His mother barely spoke English and managed to feed him on the established welfare system. Despite all that, he was able to come to Montgomery County and study in the some of the best schools in the world, allowing him the opportunity to reach new heights never imagined by his parents. And today, I am proud to say that, against all odds, because of school systems like these, he is a proud graduate of MCPS schools and will be attending a top 20 college in the fall. Indicative of the changing demographics of our nation, Jeff’s parents traversed thousands of miles to raise a family in the best county in the nation to join hands with this system in its goal in providing the American Dream for every student.
As we look towards the future, MCPS is poised to take on new challenges – of increasingly difficult economic climates and a student population more diverse and more in need of aid than before. Jeff’s situation is not unique; rather it is becoming the norm in many of our communities throughout the county. And it seems as if public education, is being assaulted from all ends. Yet at the very same time, this generation is desperately grasping on to the hope that they will have a job, a career, a future, once they are of age and HOPING to maintain the same American Dream that previous generations have achieved. After having worked in the school system this part year and being a student of it for twelve, I am proud to say that MCPS has been at the forefront of this compelling need in our society, working to raise the bar, close the gap and revolutionizing MCPS to bring it into the 21st Century.
Throughout the year, our struggle to set high expectations and fight for the budget set the tone of this Board. And we have all learned that when we struggle together, when we strive to achieve together, and when we try and understand each other, we are able to accomplish great things. I have always believed that that democracy is not a spectator sport; rather it is an amalgamation of all its citizens within a constantly changing system requiring participation from every one of its members. And together with the teachers, students, parents, staff, all standing side by side, together we were able to organize, and together we were able to send a powerful message to our officials that education is not something to be looked down upon, and together we were able to spare MCPS from an impending catastrophe.
Through twitter, youtube, facebook, blogging, and SMOB 2.0 whether through town halls or school visits students capitalized on their ability to make a difference and join in on the discussions. And for the first time, through the “Campaign For Our Future” hundreds of students throughout the county were able to come together in a grassroots campaign to fight for full funding of our education. Consequently, the decision-making authorities are beginning to witness the power of the youth voice, as seen by the hundreds who packed the County Council’s Youth Town Hall and Community Forums that the Board held.
Last year, I ran for this position envisioning a particular school system. A school system unrestricted by race, gender, socio-economic status, or disability; A school system competitive with the rest of the world; A school system where no child is truly left behind. Consequently, one year ago, I said that I would try and bring together students from across the County to fight for a common purpose and empower this generation. One year ago, I said that we would work to make the school system a better place to learn and achieve. And one year ago, I said that we would work together to make MCPS a world-class school system for all of our students. While we have not achieved these goals as of now, I am confident that this Board and this system will be able to accomplish any goal that it sets for itself, and that with the collective resolve of parents, teachers, students, staff, and community, we can and we will achieve.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Additional operating budget reductions for FY11: $19.7 million
Total Additional Cuts $24.4 million
Carryover from FY 10 Operating Budget for energy tax: $2.0 million
Monday, May 10, 2010
Dear Members of the County Council,
The Montgomery County Region of the Maryland Association of Student Councils (often referred to as MCR-SGA) voted last week to take a position on the proposed additional cuts to the County Executive’s recommended operating budget for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). We are pleased to announce that the MCR Executive Board voted unanimously to support MCPS, MCEA, SEIU Local 500, and MCAAP in opposing any further cuts to the proposed FY 2011 MCPS operating budget. The Montgomery County Junior Councils, our middle-school counterpart, has pledged to take up the issue at their next meeting.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s budget meets 96% of the Board of Education’s request. MCPS is prepared to make cuts amounting to $137.7 million in its operating budget, thus meeting the County Executive’s proposed reductions. The Board of Education has assured us that it will do everything possible to limit the effect these cuts will have on the quality of education provided by the county. However, cuts to the MCPS budget exceeding $137.7 million will put in immediate jeopardy the education of over 142,000 students currently attending public schools in Montgomery County.
The students of MCPS are vehemently opposed to any additional cuts to the County Executive’s recommended operating budget for our school system. MCR-SGA and MCJC, as representatives of the student voice and as strong advocates on behalf of student concerns, are therefore of the opinion that further cuts will only harm the education MCPS can offer and, in turn, harm the potential of MCPS graduates in their roles and endeavors in the future.
Therefore, MCR-SGA and MCJC will actively oppose any further cuts to the proposed FY 2011 MCPS operating budget. Although we have remained relatively silent on this issue in the past, we have realized that we cannot sit idly by without defending our education and our school system, to which we owe so much of who we are and of who we will become.
Students, not staff or administrators, will be feeling the blunt of the reductions that you have proposed. With a skyrocketing increase in enrollment this past year and a reduction in staffing, students will be losing opportunities to sign-up for classes that they may wish to take. In many of our schools, where enrollment in higher level advanced and AP classes is already low, the subsequent increase in class sizes means less choices and less opportunities for our students to truly reach their full potential.
Programs that directly impact the students (such as summer school) and specialty programs that cater to individual student needs will be effectively cut or reduced. Furthermore, because of reductions in staffing, students will likely have less access to developing the student-teacher relationship that is truly essential to learning in our schools. These cuts will disproportionally affect our most at-risk students and will result not only in a decrease in the standards and outcomes of the education system overall, but also in the widening of the achievement gap and the elimination of the gains that thousands of staff and students have worked so hard to reach. It is simply not equitable to deny our students the opportunity to succeed.
Already, students have heard about the possible effects of proposed cuts to instruction, sports, extracurricular stipends, extended day programs, and activity buses – programs that have kept students engaged in the school community and active in participating outside of their schools. We, as students, realize the impact of these cuts in our communities and will not stand for such a hostile assault on our futures.
We are reminded everyday in school that education is the great equalizer – that education has the opportunity to create an unquantifiable multiplier effect among the community that raises the quality of living and the standards of society. Yet imagine a school system where teachers are not adequately trained or prepared to teach students with the latest techniques or content. Imagine a school system where teachers are scrambling to handle an increase in students with a decrease in preparation and instruction time. Imagine a school system where there are not enough counselors or academic intervention teachers to address the problems of our most at-risk students. Imagine a school system where students are not given the attention and the help they need in the media center to utilize and optimize resources and technology. Imagine a school system where students are not provided with safe and healthy schools that are kept clean and in top shape. Imagine a school system this time next year with a sharp increase in drop-out rates, leading to the inevitable deterioration of communities and a decrease in the standard of living. We can not and will not stand for such a school system, for further cuts will only serve to punish the hard work of our fellow staff and students.
Anyone that states that further cuts to our school system will not result in a direct impact to students and the classroom is telling a blatant lie. Education truly is the gateway to our futures and we, as students and as the largest stakeholder in the system, will not complacently remain silent as policy makers attempt to strip us of our opportunity to succeed and to achieve our true potential. We ask our elected officials and community leaders to please not do what is “right for politics” but do, instead, what is “right for the students.” Regardless of racial and linguistic barriers, regardless of geographic boundaries, and regardless of age differences, students across the county stand together in asking that education remain the top priority in our community.
As you make difficult decisions in the coming weeks, we hope you remember that you hold the futures of 142,000 students in your hands and that you have the tremendous burden of ensuring that those students are successful in their lives and careers. Therefore, we will stand united with our teachers, our administrators, our service employees, and our school board in asking that the County Council adopt a budget that:
1. Does not furlough ANY county employees
2. Avoids any additional cuts to MCPS beyond the $137.7 million already agreed to
3. Raises the full $101 million proposed increase in the energy tax
4. Phases in the restoration of the reserve fund by going to 5.6% in FY11 and then to 6% in FY12
Student Member, MCPS Board of Education
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I will be stepping down as the Student Member on July 1, 2010 with the installment of Alan as the new SMOB.