Vote for Not More Than Three: Flora B. Adams; Richard L. Claypoole; Sharon DiFonzo; Blair G. Ewing; Marshall C. Grigsby; Mary Margaret Slye QUESTION 1: Last year the school board decided that one of its top priorities would be to improve minority academic performance and participation in extracurricular events. Assess the progress in this area. Should this remain a top priority for the coming year? QUESTION 2: What other major projects should the school board undertake this year? Flora B. Adams 24400 Frederick Rd., Clarksburg Age: 62 Retired teacher in elementary grades 1 through 7, with specializations in developmental reading and language arts; has broad experience in curriculum writing; has been chapter and regional president of Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Teachers' Sorority-International and a delegate to various local and national teachers' associations.
1: Yes. Near the close of the 1983-84 school year, each school faculty worked diligently planning the course of action, and making the decisions concerning the needs of underachieving minority students. It is too early to make an assessment, but the program stands an excellent chance of being successful because the teachers were involved in the planning process. If the board is receptive to staff needs and follows through on materials and supports, the effort started last year can be worthwhile. When schools are staffed according to the educational needs of the students, the demand for additional expensive programs is obviated. This initiative to improve the academic performance of minorities emphasizes the wisdom of addressing class size. Participation in extracurricular events is influenced by communication of the existence of the events, family choices and priorities, and expense requirements. Counseling and invitations or recommendations could encourage their participation.
2: The board should: (1) set the budget on an automated system that possesses the ability to print out budgetary data related to all segments of the school system; (2) require a more conservative approach in awarding bids in the procurement department; (3) make local schools academically proficient by spending instructional funds on instruction and obviate the need for increased transportation expenditures; (4) direct the central staff to consolidate curricula objectives into workable instructional units, utilizing teacher-tested strategies; (5) address the academic performance of the average and borderline achievers not included in the minority and gifted and talented efforts; (6) support energetic efforts to improve discipline in all the schools; (7) advocate and emphasize strong, administrative leadership in all administrative positions, and (8) improve the teacher evaluation instrument so that excellent teachers can earn top pay and remain in the classroom; the ineffective teacher can train to become more effective or choose to move into another position, possibly within the system. Richard L. Claypoole
9302 Glenville Rd., Silver Spring Age: 39 Deputy director, Executive Agencies Division, Office of the Federal Register; former member of school board, 1982; president, Long Branch Civic Association; member of Montgomery County Allied Civic Group, Blair Advisory Council and Takoma Park Junior High School PTA; vice president, Bethesda Lions Club; BA in history and politics, University of Maryland, and graduate studies in politics, Catholic University of America; has one child in county school.
1: Improved academic performance for all students is my top priority. Because below non-minorities in Montgomery County, they score above the norm of all students nationally. We are starting from a relatively sound position. I believe we can achieve real gains through hard work and raised expectations. By building on the basics, drawing teachers and parents together, reducing class size, and not being satisfied with modest improvements, we will achieve great progress. We must let our minority students know we believe in them and that we will be satisfied with nothing less than excellence.
2: From talking with citizens during my door-to-door campaign throughout Montgomery County, I've heard more complaints about poor planning and its educational consequences than anything else. From Germantown to Silver Spring the concern is with overcrowding, spiraling transportation time and costs, and inequities in program opportunities. As a board member, I would put a moratorium on school closings, direct the superintendent to work with the county executive to coordinate school transportation with Ride-On and direct the superintendent to present a plan to cut the $185 million noninstructional programs by 3 to 5 percent. I would use the savings to hire more teachers, to reduce class size and to equalize program opportunities throughout the county. We must also implement the National Commission on Excellence in Education's recommendations to increase academic and graduation requirements, require high school homework, tighten eligibility for extracurricular activity and make grades accurately reflect achievement. These are my recommendations for achieving excellence. Sharon DiFonzo
13407 Bartlett St., Rockville Age: 42 Educated at Ohio State University; has been active in local and countywide PTA, including serving as second vice president of Montgomery County Council of PTAs and assistant vice president for Area 4 MCCPTA; has served on Superintendent's Task Force on Area Reorganization and Elementary Health Education Curriculum Committee; was committee chairman of Police-Student Task Force on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and served on Interagency Committee on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; she has three sons.
1: Since this priority only began to be addressed in the classroom in September, it is obviously much too early to assess progress. The board majority has already committed itself to allowing five years to achieve this priority. But Montgomery County Public Schools must assure that this goal is being met through quality teaching and quality learning, not merely through grade inflation. By improving student learning and academic achievement, we will be able to retain students in the academic mainstream instead of shunting them off to expensive remedial and special education programs. Money thus saved could be redirected back to improving regular classroom programs. Students who are succeeding in the educational mainstream are less likely to require disciplinary action and are far more likely to participate in extracurricular activities. Result: more time for teaching, more time for learning, more time for participation -- the truly basic components of quality education.
2: I do not believe the Board of Education should undertake any additional major projects this year. Implementation of board priorities one and two is requiring so much of the time and energies of local school, area and central office staff that to ask any more of these professionals at this time might well prove to be self-defeating. I believe the board, students and the community would be far better served if the board, for the present at least, were to settle for having half of its priorities well done rather than having all of its priorities half done. Blair G. Ewing
Incumbent 4 Park Valley Rd., Silver Spring Age: 50 Senior management associate, U.S. Office of Management and Budget; School Board member since 1976, has served as board president and chairman of Audit and Research and Evaluation committees; served on Montgomery County Human Relations Commission; past president of PTA and civic association; has taught at college level; AB in political science, University of Missouri, former Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Rotary Foundation Fellow; has two children educated in county schools.
1: Yes, improvement of minority academic performance and improvement of minority participation in the life and work of the school should continue to be a priority. As a board member I have strongly supported this priority and believe the board's objective -- which is to eliminate the gap between black and white test scores, between Hispanic and white test scores -- is both extremely important and possible over the next several years. Progress has been steady, plans were laid last year, and this year implementation is beginning. The board is insisting on careful monitoring and on involvement by parents in the whole process. Early results are positive. As the gap is closed and minority performance increases, the entire school system will benefit as all students participate.
2: The board should: (1) carefully review enrollment data and projections, and determine much more carefully what facilities needs exist, then take action to correct any shortage of space; (2) establish for Area 2 a task force to examine programs and facilities and make recommendations to the board on needs that must be addressed to assure equity and excellence; (3) complete funding for the seven-period day in all high schools, allowing all students the opportunity for more academic courses; (4) institute stronger emphasis on writing and analytic skills, and on the development of research (information gathering, analysis, explanation) skills; (5) expand all-day kindergarten, so that it is available to all students ready for it; (6) approve a second science-math-computer and high-technology magnet program accessible to upcounty students; (7) assure improved opportunities in the work world for handicapped students, after high school, through special vocational and career programs for them; and (8) establish a panel of distinguished citizens to develop recommendations about how to assure excellence in teaching in the county in the future. Marshall C. Grigsby
1102 Cannon Rd., Silver Spring Age: 38 Assistant dean and associate professor at Howard University Divinity School; served on Area 2 Assistance and Review Team; member of PTA and Association of Theological Schools Commission on Accrediting; graduate of Morehouse College, masters and doctoral degrees from University of Chicago; president, Educational Research Systems Inc.; education consultant to New York State; finalist, White House Fellows Program; active in NAACP and Career Exploration Project of National Council of Negro Women; has two daughters in county schools.
1: I am on record as strongly supporting the educational priority to improve the academic performance and participation in extracurricular activities by minority students, as set by the Board of Education. This effort should remain a top priority until the stated goal has been achieved. All reports to date indicate that substantial progress has already been made even though the first year was designated as a planning year. Math and writing scores of minority students have improved at both the junior and senior high levels. One elementary school actually increased performance by as much as 17 percent. It is significant to note that while priority 2 emphasizes improvement in performance of minority students, improvement was also noted in priority 1: the achievement of all MCPS students, as reflected, for example, in the overall rise of SAT scores. Therefore, the two priorities are, as originally presumed, mutually supportive.
2: The Board of Education adopted five educational priorities in September 1983. The priorities include an emphasis on the academic achievement of all students; efforts to eliminate the gap in achievement and participation between minority and majority students; efforts to improve the organization and efficiency of the staff; programs to assist students in understanding their citizenship responsibilities, and efforts to help students understand that learning is a life-long process. These challenging priorities are consistent with my goals of "quality, pride and vision" for Montgomery County Public Schools. Therefore, there is no need to undertake other major projects until we have given the stated priorities our best efforts and support, and realize positive results. Mary Margaret Slye
11701 Hitching Post La., Rockville Age: 37 Office manager in dental office; former senior high school teacher and tutor; president, Montgomery County Council of PTAs for Area 2, co-chair of budget committee for MCCPTA; member of ad hoc committee for Committee on Excellence: The Nation at Risk; member of executive boards of elementary, intermediate and senior high Parent-Teacher-Student Associations; mother of five students attending Montgomery County Public.
1: Improving student achievement is the main task of any educational system. Appropriately, the Board of Education's top two priorities are: (1) improved achievement for all students, and (2) improved minority student achievement and participation in extracurriculuar events. Schools have assessed their strengths and weaknesses by thorough evaluation and are implementing a variety of strategies aimed at improving areas of identified need. These approaches are funded through mini-grants, which are designed to encourage local initiative in problem-solving. Those strategies that prove successful should be extended to all schools in order to assure continued growth for all students in these two vital areas. Careful and consistent monitoring of progress toward these two goals should occur until the achievement of all students demonstrates conclusively that their academic needs are being met regularly and effectively.
2: Three specific areas need urgent attention: (1) Improvement of guidance and counseling services in secondary schools, which should include increased interaction between counselors and students to improve academic outcomes and facilitate post-secondary placement for all students. (2) Evaluation of early childhood education, which should address -- but not be limited to -- standards and expectations for grades K-3, availability of all-day kindergarten and space in elementary schools for suitable day-care centers. (3) Assessment of the present staffing allocation system, which should seek to more efficiently hire and assign needed teachers to schools in a timely fashion and examine effective methods to reduce class sizes countywide.