Montgomery teens hear from new superintendent

Montgomery County teens met the new superintendent this week at Blake High School during the first of two student town hall meetings. During his first months on the job, Joshua Starr has had a full schedule of meetings with teachers, principals, parents, you name it. He’s vowed to visit four or five schools a week, but this is one of his first formal meetings with a cross-section of students. For 40-minutes, Starr fielded questions from a studio audience and via Twitter and e-mail.

A video of the full meeting is available on line. Here are are a few excerpts of Starr’s comments.

— On the competitive culture in Montgomery County:

There’s something in the American value system where we value competition over collaboration and cooperation, but if you look at how problems get solved in the world ... cooperation and team work are equally as important.

— On arts programs:

Funding for the arts is in­cred­ibly important. ... I cannot make any promises considering how dire the budget is.

— On drug use among teens:

I want to remind people that student drug use and student violence is lower now than it has been in many, many years. While we have drug issues, you guys are actually much better behaved than previous generations. But we can never do enough. ... We need to create a culture where we all take care of each other — and adults know their job is to have relationships with students.

— On staying in touch with students in the future (The student who asked this question said, “The people up in the big offices and everything” aren’t always well informed.):

The system is run so well that I don’t have to worry about a lot of day -to-day things that other superintendents have to, so I can do things like this ... and be in the community and talk to folks and hear from them. ... I also want students to not only invite me to things but also hold me accountable for going and and talking to you.

One of my plans going forward is to try to spend some time in lunch rooms talking to kids in lunch rooms.

One of the reasons I’m tweeting is so kids can send me messages. I don’t reply because it’s just too much back and forth and could be endless. But I really like to hear from kids by e-mail [and Twitter].

Students--The next town hall is at Quince Orchard High School Nov. 9

Questions for the new supe can go to: @mcps on Twitter or to joshua_starr@mcpsmd.org

Questions and comments for your local education reporter are always welcome, too! (And I’m pretty good at replying.) Let me know what’s new or changing or challenging or fantastic about your school life.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.

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