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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

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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3 Responses to SMOB Minute: One Student’s Response

  1. Matt Reply

    January 29, 2016 at 2:47 am

    This whole article is so over the top pretentious and poorly sourced I thought I’d take the time to fact check you.

    1. MCPS already has centrally developed formative assessments for classes like English. These new quarterly assessments follow this same format. Now, if you’ve ever taken an English class, judging by the diction of this article – this is a definite maybe, then you know that the review required for these assessments pales in comparison to the review period of a semester exam. While only one day of review was officially allocated for semester exams, many teachers and students spent the week beforehand (if not more) reviewing for the exam. Saying quarterly assessments will take up more time is simply a falsehood.

    2. I’m sure you’re very pleased that you fit the word “grandiose” in your response, but you are ridiculously misinformed about what the Board is doing to tackle the Achievement Gap. On your high horse you may not have noticed the Board’s Equity Initiatives Unit, Teacher diversity goals, and allocation in the budget for additional ESOL teachers in schools that need it. You may have forgotten about the implementation of computer programming and PLTW classes to ensure students who don’t necessarily have the money to go to college are still career ready.

    3. This response is one of your most laughable, displaying your full on ignorance of how the state legislature works. I ensure you, the funding of our athletic programs is not a reason for our current struggles in Annapolis. Not only do turf fields prove to be an investment in the long run (maintenance of real grass costs a lot of money!), the most important aspect of the turf plan is the concept of private partnerships. These partnerships would greatly reduce the price per field, making it a realistic and fiscally sensible use of the budget. Just because you prefer writing doesn’t mean that other aspects of student’s lives don’t deserve funding. Our athletic programs and their GPA requirements do a lot to fight the achievement gap.

    4. This is a ridiculously stupid argument. You’re upset that the Board is beginning to take action on issues that have been surfacing for too long? You’re upset about the lack of communication on “rash decisions”? Hate to tell you, but the issue of too many exams was brought up in 2013(!) by the Math Exam Work Group, a Middle School Exam Work Group was convened about the issue later that year, and a massive uproar about the issue occurred during PARCC implementation. You bemoan the lack of communication but the county had a month long online feedback forum on both the revamped assessment and grading strategy!!! If you wanted to voice your thoughts a little more directly, the Board had several hearings. The Board has serious communication all the time, every week, every day.

    Just because you’re ignorant to it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    Please fact check your opinions before sharing them.

    • Christopher Reply

      February 15, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      This isn’t a fact check; rather a shameful attempt to disown the author’s opinions for political retribution. PS- I’d rather have better textbooks than a turf field at my school, and surprisingly; I think that the athletic teams would hate to play on a turf field. It hurts.

      • Matt Reply

        February 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm

        You realize that textbooks and turf fields come from two different budgets correct? The funding of one doesn’t impact the funding of the other.

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