Joint BOE/Council happy fun time meeting!

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Yesterday, the BOE and county council met for one of their joint sessions. It went very well! Wildly speculating that perhaps Kirby’s absence (where is that guy anyway?) perhaps freed people from having to talk about harebrained rent-to-own schemes. But who knows for sure?! Here’s some highlights:

  • Meeting agenda and minutes passed with NO issues. Take note Shrealuter!
  • Superintendent Alban spoke of two major factors that influenced the next year’s proposed budget:
    • Additional enrollment: 1,000 projected students and the positions needed to to face this growth.
    • The second year implementation to make the salary scales, not only for teachers but also for support staff and administration, more competitive. You know, so all of our good teachers and staff don’t run off to Montgomery County.
  • Other factors that have influenced this year’s budget are the legislative mandates to fund Epi-Pens and to translate IEP’s for students. This only has to be done for languages that are spoken by 1% of the population. In Frederick, only Spanish fulfills that requirement.
  • Frederick High is on track to open this Fall. So far, $3 million in savings has been found. Governor is also putting aside $339,000 for the LYNX program.
  • Butterfly Ridge Elementary-redistricting plans have been started and is expected to be contentious. Bids have been  received and will be processed soon.
  • Sugarloaf Elementary-Bids are being processed.
  • Urbana Elementary-Students will be moved to Sugarloaf when completed. Urbana will then be renovated or rebuilt, depending on costs.
  • Rock Creek-Must find a campus since they need to be near the general school population.
  • Waverly-future dependent upon what happens with the new redistricting and Rock Creek.
  • RFI (Request for Information) was sent out to the community for the old Lincoln School building.
  • No public or board or council member comments.

FCPS breach is serious business people.

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On December 13, The Frederick Extra broke the story about a data breach at FCPS that left  1,000 former students’ identities compromised. Since then, the Extra has written two additional stories that you can read here and here. FCPS has responded by offering those affected a one year subscription to an identity protection service. You can read the official statement from FCPS here and watch the video from BOE President Young and Superintendent Alban here.

It’s disheartening that we now live in a world in which we have to be super vigilant with our data. At this moment, one of Your Lady Yokels currently has a LifeLock subscription due to Target’s data breach. What is also disheartening is when people with a clear vendetta against the school system, the BOE and the superintendent use this as yet another opportunity to go on one of their numerous FCPS witch hunts. How is this at all helpful people? Especially when this data breach occurred before many of the people who are being vilified even worked for FCPS.  Calling for people’s resignations is at the least premature and at most wildy irresponsible. Let the information roll in before passing judgment! When you are so reactionary it only serves to reveal your own prejudices and motives. Honestly folks, even our own King of Overreactions is looking at the facts:

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That is not to say that if your data was stolen that you shouldn’t be angry and want to get to the bottom of what happened.  And lets let the Frederick Extra, The Frederick News Post and FCPS do just that. If you do feel your data was compromised please email or call the school system at: infosec@fcps.org or 301-644-5332. Steer away from the random people on Facebook who some how got a hold of this list.

Proposed school calendars and joint BOE meetings! Too much fun for one post?

So fun!
So fun!

First off, FCPS has put out two proposed 2017-2018 calendars for public comment. One has a before Labor Day start and one after. The calendar with the post Labor Day start has done away with Spring Break. That caused your Lady Yokels to gasp! Follow this link and then make sure you comment. This is local government y’all, your voice counts!

Yesterday we made you aware that the Board of Education and county council was meeting. The FNP covered it pretty well so we won’t repeat their points. We do, however, have a few comments of our own.

First off: Where’s Kirby? The school construction presentation would have presented him with the perfect chance to grandstand about his now defunct buy back lease idea. He usually doesn’t pass up a chance to beat that dead horse.( Or any dead horse for that matter.)

Secondly, will someone please, please tell Billy to dress appropriately and pay ATTENTION during these meetings?!

Just look to your left Billy if you can't figure it out. And get your phone out of your lap!!!
Just look to your left Billy if you can’t figure it out. And get your phone out of your lap!!!

Thirdly, congratulations on your retirement Mr. Ray Barnes. We will miss your presentations and  your insight into school  construction. Thank you for your 35 years of service!

And finally, Jessica most graciously solved one ,out of the many ,former BOE candidate’s witch hunts. She returned to work yesterday. Not that was anyone’s, including our, business!  Good luck Ms. Fitzwater! As mommies we know how challenging the transition can be!

 

Who had a little too much Halloween punch last night?

Hello faithful readers, we hope you had a very Happy Halloween. In this last week leading up to the election, we thought y’all could use some comic relief. An alert Facebook reader sent this down the ole Yokel line today:

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Either can we! The tears won’t stop coming down!

Can you imagine if he were our County Executive! We know, Halloween is over and we shouldn’t be scaring you any longer. I think we are oh so glad and relieved that we managed to sidestep having our very own John Leopold in Frederick. We’ve also been made aware that some of the more…how shall we say…”sophisticated” among us have advocated writing Blaine’s name in for the BOE race. Because sure! What better role model for our kids and school system than that guy! How many sex scandals until you are ineligible for the school board? We forget.

Who could be better? Oh yeah! These three:

3 and done!
3 and done!

Who is in need of a history lesson today?

After reading the title we are sure you have at least two possibilities in mind! Billy got a lot of attention last week and apparently #kirbydelauter is jealous. So, in an effort to make sure both halves of Shrelauter get enough attention we bring you this:

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Now, is he  being ironic or has there been a change of heart? Because if he read the entire paragraph he would have noticed that 50 years ago (you know the good ol’ days) our local officials were in favor of funding teacher salaries and backed plans for home rule!! Two issues that Kirby has been  on the other side of! So when will we fix it ole #? When you and your little comrade and others like you stop being so terrible!! That’s when!

We wish that was all we had to share, but it isn’t. In the comments our most honorable District 5 representative was NOT done:

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Grrr. This makes your Lady Yokels want to break all the things!

 

Not quite Kirby...no quite.
Not quite Kirby…not quite.

So readers, any guesses why we don’t have a League of Male Voters? Maybe, just maybe, it has something do with the fact that every single white male has had the right to vote since 1856. That’s right people, in 1856 North Carolina was the last State to remove property qualifications  as a prerequisite to vote. Therefore, since before the Civil War there have not been any barriers for a white male to vote in this country.  NONE.  Women and minorities, however,  were imprisoned, killed, threatened and intimidated in an attempt to keep them from the ballot box well into the 20th century. In case this is new to you Councilman Delauter , you can listen to this song that will give you a nice little introduction to what women went through in order to secure our right to be a citizen of this great country.

Watch it!
Watch it!

So when we see someone joking about there needing to be a League of Male Voters it makes us a little cray cray. The League of Women Voters was established to get women the vote and then continued on as an organization to help women advocate for policy issues. They are non partisan, and if you have ever seen their members at our local council members you know how articulate these ladies are. Stating that there needs to be a League of Male Voters is akin to  advocating for a White Men’s History Month. Every month, until we gals and minority groups decided not to stand for it anymore, was White Men’s History Month! And you would be hard pressed to convince anyone that white men’s contributions don’t figure largely in today’s history curriculum.

Tired of saying this…Kirby stop being awful on Facebook. And everywhere else for that matter! We sure hope he isn’t on the side of some Trump voters who want to repeal the 19th amendment.

PSA- Don’t forget early voting started yesterday. If you aren’t registered to vote you can still register during the early voting period. Make sure you get out and act like the good American citizen we know  you are!

King of the Deplorables: who else makes pro human trafficking claims?

The Frederick County Council workshop on human trafficking really left an impression on the Local Yokel writers’ fret-o-meter. Because of our former BOCC president’s legal issues, we have focused on the sex trafficking aspect of this multifaceted modern day enslavement, while in reality law enforcement has identified issues with labor trafficking as well. At any rate, when we learned that Frederick Community College would be hosting a sex trafficking victim, we wanted to go hear this woman speak.

It was a lot to process. We have a few takeaways to share. People who fall into this are vulnerable in some way from the outset. Their vulnerabilities make them ideal victims. This woman was a 12 year old runaway from Fairfax County. She was having behavior problems, and no one in the community or school system correctly identified the source of the problem as the abuse she was suffering at the hands of a family member. This was one aspect the county cited as a reason the workshop topic was necessary. So that educators in our county receive the appropriate training to stop this in its tracks. And some people made a bunch of noise trying to say this training was some kind of perk for the teachers (this thinking is literally impossible to understand, but it bears repeating because our least favorite school board candidate, Cindy Rose, was a part of that).

Another aspect of the issue involves law enforcement. This young girl was sent to Riker’s at the age of sixteen because she had been abused into submission and would never give her real name, age, or circumstances to authorities. Later in life–it’s truly a miracle she is alive–after escaping this hell, she lost her job due to an extensive arrest record tied to the one set of fingerprints common to all these assumed names. Another part of the county workshop highlighted the need to train law enforcement to ask the right questions and find the right resources. Immediately. This would ensure that victims are not victimized further by a dysfunctional justice system, or the social system as a whole.

And a moment to discuss what an amazing human being we saw speak. Her name is Barbara Amaya. She said someone told her the average life expectancy of someone taken into sex trafficking is seven years. Not only did she return from ten years living this nightmare with just a sixth grade education and somehow cobble together as normal a life as possible–as a parent, a functional member of society, and now someone who writes books, mentors people, speaks in public (in spite of obvious reservations about taking on that role). She is also working with our House and Senate to pass legislation for Safe Harbor and to get the records of sex trafficking victims expunged. Amazing. What a gift she has given to this world out of some truly horrible circumstances.

One thing she was quick to point out is that there is no such thing as child prostitution. If you are having sex with a minor, the only word for that is rape. She was raped dozens of times a day. Let’s take that a step farther, though. If you are having sex with a person of any age, whether you bought the services or not, and someone else is brutalizing that person so that he or she will engage in your commercial exchange of funds for services, what exactly are you doing? Making love? And legalizing prostitution only helps the “customer” avoid punishment for his involvement in this. It incentivizes sex traffickers to find more victims. There really aren’t two sides to this issue. You’re either deplorable or you aren’t. More about that in a second.

It’s been a bee in our bonnet ever since Billy Shreve objected to the need for a human trafficking workshop by running his mouth off without thinking (shocker) and saying that there are groups both for and against this. We know he has a friend who has a history of poor decision making with regard to his sex life. (A friend we feel zero sympathy for when he takes to Facebook to criticize everyone for not being more understanding of his troubles and demons.) Shut up. We don’t know if you know what deplorable means, and we’re pretty sure you think you are using this stupid sign ironically. Even if you don’t know what ironic means–and apparently you don’t, because it sure seems to be totally absent any irony to this clique of writers.

King of the Deplorables
King of the Deplorables

Let’s shrink that government! Wait, let me first issue this sweeping State mandate!

And you too local school boards!!! Boardwalk Fries needs some more moolah!
And you too local school boards!!! Boardwalk Fries needs some more moolah!

We know y’all heard by now about Governor Hogan’s Executive Order mandating that schools will now start after Labor Day and must be done by June 15th. Curiously there was nothing within this Executive Order that would help school systems achieve this, like perhaps, eliminating some of the testing requirements or lowering the number of mandatory school days. Therefore, something is going to have to go. And it looks as though that something will be Spring Break.  Baltimore County school superintendent had this to say:

Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said his school system would have to reduce spring break to Good Friday and the Monday after Easter to fit the required 180 days into the calendar between Labor Day and June 15.

We’ve seen people on Twitter comment how this is a summer tax for working families who now will have to find more camps and child care. Not to mention the summer slide that so many kids experience.  What we find all so interesting is that this decision was not done through the legislature, had no public comment opportunities and seems to be antithetical to the way a “less government is better” politician would behave.

Don’t get us wrong though, we Yokel moms do not want to lose our summer break. But we also do not want to lose our Spring and Winter ones either. One of the Yokel younguns even said today, ” I can’t make it through the year without my breaks.”  We also remembered how Frederick almost burned down the Board of Ed when they took Fair Day off the calendar. The hard truth is, however, if schools are required to come up with 180 days on a longer summer schedule  something is gonna get chopped!

Lots of people support this because they didn’t go to school until after Labor Day when they were kids. Well, school has changed since the good old days and we happen to think it is really bad policy to make decisions based on nostalgia. We are also super skeptical that people are going to use that time to stuff their faces with Boardwalk Fries. When this same exact subject came up in legislative hearings, school board members testified against it.  Every community should have the freedom to create their school calendar around their needs and wants. If Governor Hogan really wanted to help local school boards out he could: a) Better fund the schools b) Ease up on State testing requirements and c) study the research about how really long breaks hurt lower income kids. Every district needs to design their calendar based on the needs and wants of their community. We’ll leave you with these words from State Senator Mike Miller:

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) criticized Hogan for not collaborating with the General Assembly, calling the governor’s action “extraordinary and legally questionable,” and saying he should have proposed the change as legislation.“It would have required hard work on the part of the Governor, and mostly likely compromise working with education experts and local officials around the state to reach agreement on how the goal could best be accomplished without harming students’ educational attainment,” Miller said.

“Making a press show about this issue over a year in advance while holding hands with the state tax collector appears like political gamesmanship.”

Can you imagine if Jan did something like this? Curious to see how Billy and Kirby are going to react when it’s their buddy making sweeping mandates.

 

Can’t teachers just live off their job perks?

Poor, sweet naive owlets.
Poor, sweet naive owlets.

In a surprise to absolutely no one with a hearty sense of logic, the FNP ran a story today entitled:

Low salary rankings a sticking point for Frederick County teachers

In our previous reports we’ve talked about this FACT.  We also expressed our outrage when BoE candidate Cindy Rose stated that salaries weren’t an issue. Look people, teachers are professionals, college educated and trained. Many go on to get Master’s degrees as well.  They plan day in and day out how to best help our children acquire essential skills, behave and function as part of a larger group. They invest their emotional, physical and mental resources into shaping our future. But you know what? They’ve gotta eat, raise a family and prepare for their own  futures. So if another county or another profession gives them the pay and security that they so richly deserve, what do you think is going to be the end result?  It’s not enough to say we have a cool town or that the personal satisfaction of teaching should be enough. There aren’t many jobs in which you are required to get a four year degree, take licensing tests and within ten years acquire a Master’s degree and still get paid so poorly. If you still think teachers don’t matter, that their job could be replaced by a computer, start reading here and here. We implore the BoE to reconsider their decision to take money away from salaries, for if we don’t have the talent we don’t have anything.

Special education (or, why don’t words have meaning?)

In an incredibly frustrating move this past week, the Maryland State Board of Education rejected the possibility of opting out of standardized PARCC testing for Maryland students. Including special education students.
Now, the Yokels have made no secret that we don’t think Cindy Rose’s candidacy is anything special in itself. Over testing of students and onerous curriculum restrictions that impede teachers’ efficacy in their classrooms are concerns shared by absolutely all of the school board candidates running for election in 2016, even if Rose is much angrier and more aggressive in the tone she takes. This issue simply does not make her special enough to stand out from the pack –at least not in any positive light.
That said, just as we criticized her willingness to paint the special education students with a broad brush that could prevent their achievement, this criticism is equally true of the state board’s position. There appears to be absolutely no reason for it, according to the FNP’s editorial from April 30, 2016.

But looking at the statistics of students aged 6 to 21 served under IDEA, it appears unlikely that offering the opt-out option to the parents of severely mentally impaired students would threaten federal funding. According to the Maryland Board of Education’s own Fact Book for 2013-2014, which contains enrollment statistics, 102,578 students were in special education out of a total population of 866,169. Of those, 30,876 were classified with specific learning disabilities — about 3.6 percent of the total school population; 8,095 were classified as having developmental delays. While the fact book doesn’t outline specific details of how many severely mentally disabled students are served statewide, it’s hard to imagine they comprise more than a fraction of that 3.6 percent, and that not testing them would come close to violating that federally required 95 percent.

Special education and IEPs (individualized education programs) are antithetical to standardization. Individualized is not standardized. They are opposites. Why on Earth would you take a child receiving highly individualized services, and then try to make them function in a standardized situation? It defies reason. Wasting the time it takes to administer tests simply so they can check the “done” box when you are working with a student whose learning objectives have nothing whatsoever to do with the test is the very definition of absurdity.
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We do wish that Mrs. Rose would take up her issue with the Maryland State Board of Education. They appear to need someone to come along and rattle their cage, and she seems like just the lady for a bull-in-the-china-shop sort of task. Maybe she can teach them a thing or two about the meanings of words (but lets keep the four letter ones she likes so much out of it). If she comes back to town with some educational experience to put on her resume, that might have a great outcome for everyone invested in Frederick County Public Schools.