SMOB Minute: One Student’s Response
Note: the SMOB Minute video can be found here.
Response to Eric Guerci’s SMOB Minute 1/24, Sentence by Sentence
- Intro: “Hey everybody. As the first semester winds down, I want to recap some of the tremendous progress we have made. Being your SMOB has never been about me; it’s always been about you”
- “We have reimagined semester exams by reducing testing time and alleviating testing burden for high schoolers”
- The new system that will supposedly “replace” semester exams has not been adequately communicated to the MCPS community. With the new policy in place, which many do not yet know about, instructional time has actually been reduced, not increased as one might think. Instead of one review day (with 45 minute classes) and a two hour exam, students will now have to undergo one review day each quarter and two 45-minute exams each quarter. What used to be 2h45m of time allotted to the county’s testing process for middle and high school students is now 3 hours.
- “We have expanded technology in the classroom, championed equity through our renewed focus on closing achievement and opportunity gaps”
- The continuous grandiose talk about the achievement gap is not beneficial, but rather destructive to our county. Instead of focusing on ideology, leaders should look beyond statistics to get to the bottom of the issue behind so-called “gaps.” Adding more bilingual teachers to the county’s workforce and adding study periods for youth that are forced to be breadwinners for their families are more direct and courageous solutions to a problem that is much talked about but never truly adressed in its entirety.
- “We have created a student-centered capital budget to expand and renovate our overcrowded schools and bring turf to every high school”
- It is interesting how this line is prefaced with vague explanations about the importance of “closing achievement gaps.” Is it smart for a county whose budget is being cut by the state government, and which supposedly wants to try and fix achievement gaps, to go ahead and squander millions (approximately $1M per school) of dollars on turf fields, when sports-related ventures already consume a superfluous amount of the county’s budget? Maybe that is why the state government has cut our funding. If we have millions of dollars to spend on turf fields, then why not give that money to other counties that are emphasizing their focus’ on more noble pursuits?
- “There is still a lot of work ahead to continue to expand opportunity, implement a bring your own device program, begin discussions on school lunches, bring dialogue on mental health to the forefront, and come together to advocate for our budget so that we ensure a strong foundation for generations to come. Thanks for listening.”
- It is never too late to start new discussions. However, the issues mentioned have been around for too long to be considered “new” or “just-begun.” Instead of motioning for conversation, we should be motioning for better communication. Parents, students, teachers, and other community members opinions have not adequately been taken into account when implementing rash decisions like essentially eliminating final exams, changing start times by twenty minutes, or imposing common core curricula on inadequately informed students and teachers, creating a culture of experimentation that dehumanizes the community’s members to guinea pigs. There have been more than enough Google polls, emails, and Facebook groups sponsored by the county to get conversations going. What is missing, then, is serious communication on issues that will influence the future of our county, and thus the future of our world.
Column by the MoCo Student Opinions Editor Darian Garcia of Richard Montgomery High School