Term: 4 Years
QUESTION: What one thing would most improve the quality of education offered by the county school system?
6325 Windermere Circle, Rockville
Special assistant to the assistant chief medical director, clinical affairs, Veterans Health Services and Research Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs; Leadership Montgomery (1990), Leadership VA (1983), VA Administrative Scholar, 1977-80; Montgomery County Public Schools, Human Relations Committee, Minority Students Achievement Advisory Committee, Advisory Committee on English as a second language, PRAT Review Team for Area I Office, Board of Ethics Panel; Academic and Innovation Award and Outstanding Teaching Service Award, University of Southern California, 1968-77; Interagency Coordinating Board for the Community Use of Schools, 1985-90; Committee for Montgomery, 1990; national vice president, the Organization of Chinese Americans, 1990, D.C. chapter president, 1983-84.
A. The one thing I think that would most improve the quality of education by the county school system is the real commitment to caring -- caring about children and how they learn; caring about needs of parents and the community; and caring about the recruitment of excellent teachers, their growth and development. Children often learn according to the expectation of teachers and parents. A smaller class size coupled with individualized attention and encouragement will improve the learning and performance of any child. Children like to please, to be accepted and recognized for doing a good job, and most important, to feel wanted. Also, our county is very fortunate in having a highly educated and involved community. The school system needs to capitalize on the utilization of this resource to create a positive learning environment in which our children's full potential can be fully realized.
James E. Cronin
3520 Banquo Dr., Silver Spring
Professor, history, 1970-present, chairman, History and Political Science Department, Montgomery College; member, Board of Education, 1982-present, president, 1986 and 1989; member, Board Audit and Research and Evaluation Committees; current administrative associate, central administration, Montgomery College, duties, long-range planning; American Council on Education fellow, office of the president, University of Maryland, 1986-87; member, Montgomery County Human Relations Commission, 1976-82; chairman, Higher Education Council, Maryland State Teachers Association, 1980-82; PhD with honors, New York University, 1974; recipient, United Nations Association Award, 1982; proposal reader, United States Department of Education.
A. The most important change would be school-based decision making. "Autonomy" brings parents, staff and principals in the partnership to make changes unique to the school. In this way, each school chooses the scope and place of change. Every element of the community has a direct interest in seeing that change is useful and successful. Each school council would be composed of parents, staff, principal and students (at the middle and high school levels). It would assess the learning climate at the school and the types of change necessary to improve the school. The council would then select the measures of improvement and draft a plan to meet the school's goals. The plan would include resources, required teacher training and achievement contracts between the school, parents and students. Each school would have a budget and buy services from Central, thereby forcing administrative offices to be directly responsive to the change.
859 Diamond Dr., Gaithersburg
Program analyst and congressional affairs officer, Department of the Army; PTA president for three Gaithersburg schools, 1983-89; first PTSA president of new Quince Orchard High School; officer in Montgomery County Council of PTAs, 1985-89; member, Up-County Citizens Advisory Board, 1985-89, chairman, 1988-89, officer, 1986-89; youth sports coach for city of Gaithersburg, 1977-89; named volunteer of the year by city of Gaithersburg, 1983 and parent volunteer of the year by Quince Orchard High School, 1989; president of parish council, St. Rose of Lima Church, Gathersburg, 1989-90; community correspondent for Montgomery Journal, 1989-90; Cub Scout coordinator, 1984-85; married; four children, three enrolled in and one a graduate of Montgomery County public schools.
A. Focusing limited resources on improving classroom instruction across the board for all students would most improve the quality of education offered by the county school system. The county -- and the school system -- are facing a tighter funding environment than previous school boards have had to contend with. Montgomery County Public Schools is a solid system with some excellent special programs, such as those for the learning disabled and the gifted and talented. But most students are not in special programs, and true qualitative improvement would require across-the-board enhancement and upgrade of classroom instruction. How? By making better use of current educational technology (such as computers, video discs, media centers, interactive videos and science labs). If we can stimulate the interest of the majority of students through that technology -- and improved teaching techniques -- and make learning exciting and interesting for the average student as well as challenging and rewarding for teachers, I think we can make a dent in both the dropout rate and in the drug problem.
Carol P. Fanconi
21423 Uppermont Lane, Laytonsville
Co-chairwoman, Coalition for the Schools, 1989-90; held leadership positions in local and countywide PTAs, 1974-1989, including Montgomery County Council PTA Gaithersburg cluster coordinator, 1987-89, MCC PTA drug/alcohol committee chairman, 1987-88, and president of Laytonsville Elementary PTA and Gaithersburg High School PTA; board of directors, Committee for Montgomery, Committee for the Up-County, Education Political Action Committee; pediatric nurse, 1964-76; coordinator of children's services, Montgomery County Department of Family Resources, 1987-present; 20-year county resident; married and mother of three children attending or recently graduated from Montgomery County public schools.
A. Montgomery County Public Schools frequently succeed. However, minority student underachievement, increasing dropouts and expanding diversity of student needs indicate Montgomery County Public Schools need to improve their ability to educate the average and at-risk child. My highest priority is to improve classroom instruction for all children by reallocating resources (aides, textbooks and materials) to the classroom; instituting school-based management, some schools nationally have improved student performance and teacher productivity and accountability; and increasing the emphasis on early childhood education and math and science offerings for all children. To maximize the effectiveness of every education dollar, I would reduce administrative costs by shifting responsibility to the local schools; eliminate frills and cost overruns in construction; and maximize state reimbursement through better coordination with county government. It would, however, be fiscally irresponsible to cut into the quality of services to save money, because the cost of failing to educate our children is a cost we cannot afford.
Ana Sol Gutierrez
3317 Turner Lane, Chevy Chase
Senior systems engineer, Ford Aerospace, serving NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; BS, chemistry; MS, management; graduate studies in engineering and computer sciences; education activist; former board member, Community Coalition for the Schools; member, Montgomery County Public Schools Minority Achievement Committee; has served on PTA boards of six Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster schools; former member, Committee for Montgomery; member, National Science Foundation/Montgomery College Minority Achievement Committee; commissioner, Gov. William Donald Schaefer's Commission on Hispanic Affairs and Senator Barbara Mikulski's Academy Review Board; member, SANE-FREEZE political action committee national board of directors; National Management Association, senior vice-president, southern Maryland chapter; single mother; three sons; born in El Salvador; Chevy Chase resident for more than 34 years.
A. Class size is the single, most significant contributing factor to effective learning. Reducing class size based on "weighted" parameters reflecting classroom composition would most improve Montgomery County Public Schools' quality of education. To educate a rapidly growing, increasingly diverse student population, the schools must do a better job of recognizing and meeting individual needs by delivering more effective instructional services in each classroom, every day. The schools must prioritize resource expenditures to ensure: additional classroom instructional assistants; appropriate, effective instructional materials, methods and tools -- effective teacher training, more planning time, beginning-teacher mentoring, professional development opportunities -- greater parental outreach and involvement; reduced complexity and bureaucracy to promote a more sensitive, user-friendly school system -- reduced layers of supervision and administration to promote cost-efficient management, greater school-based decision making and teacher participation, creativity and innovation. We must reform and redirect our curricula, teacher community, materials and methods to educate our future Workforce 2000.
Vicki P. Rafel
3400 W. Coquelin Ter., Chevy Chase
Office accountant, part-time, DuPont Associates, P.A.; appointed to Board of Education for eight months, 1988; president, Montgomery County Council of PTAs, 1985-87; vice president for leadership, Maryland PTA, 1986-88; current chairman, Montgomery County Public Schools Educational Foundation Inc.; chairman, Community Coalition for the Schools, 1987-88; held various local, county, state and national PTA positions; served on several Montgomery County Public Schools task forces and committees; school volunteer since 1970; Suburban Maryland Fair Housing, 1983-85; former volunteer coordinator, Bethesda Inter-Faith Housing Coalition; aide to a delegate, Maryland General Assembly, 1983-85; married, with two sons who graduated from Montgomery County public schools.
A. Assuring student success is the key to improving school quality. Students come to school with varied talents, needs and problems and need individual attention in order to succeed. A wide array of strategies can be used to increase individualization -- smaller class size, classroom aides, mentoring, peer tutoring, senior and community volunteers, school-business partnerships, teacher training and support, recognition of learning styles, variations in staffing patterns and classroom management techniques, and parent outreach. Measures that can increase the amount of individual attention each student receives are especially important as the school system grows, becomes more diverse and serves more at-risk students -- at the same time that fiscal/funding pressures are increasing and expectations of improved accountability and efficiency rise. Whether a student is gifted and talented, in the middle range of ability, handicapped or bringing societal problems to school, individual attention can significantly improve that child's chances for success.
4236 Sandcastle Lane, Olney
Adjunct professor of reading to incoming freshmen, Montgomery College, 1979-present; MS, reading, State University of New York, Albany; certified teacher, nursery, elementary, junior and senior high; member, Latch-Key Subcommittee, Interagency Coordinating Board; former delegate, Montgomery County Council of Parent Teachers Association; former PTA president; former member, Sherwood Demographic and Boundary Committee, Frances Brenneman, candidate, Board of Education; member, Education Specifications Committee for Hopewell Middle School; former corresponding secretary, Greater Olney Civic Association; member, NAACP; B'Nai Shalom of Olney; married, two children.
A. For children to grow, they need attention; they need to have their individual needs met. Reducing class size ratios is the best way to accomplish this. Every child is special; individualized attention will help all students. With smaller classes, teachers can differentiate and use creative teaching styles to help each student. Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers and assistants are essential. Cooperative learning and interdisciplinary teaching in math and science will be enhanced with smaller groupings; children's interest in these subjects will increase. In primary years, small classes are extremely important; they are also necessary in the upper grades for better understanding of subject areas. In addition, parents' participation is vital to support their children's progress in school. Knowledge concerning the educational process will foster parent involvement, which in turn, will encourage their children's learning. Educational quality will improve by teaming parents with teachers to focus attention on students' individual needs.
Donald R. Buckner
12513 Eastbourne Dr., Silver Spring
Health professions educator and administrator, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; member, National Accreditation Commission of Dental Schools; developing policies for and researching education programs; doctorate degree, teacher preparation and testing; former teacher, principal, school and college of education administrator and lecturer; has volunteered as a curriculum reviewer and consultant to Montgomery County schools; reviewed tests, including Medical College Admissions Test; conducted test-taking workshops in community; former president and researcher, educational publishing firm; developed plan for first publishing house in a black college; wrote first minority test report for Montgomery County Public schools; served on PTAs; board chairman, Peoples Community Baptist Church; married; two children.
A. Most important in improving the quality of the schools are: support for high quality teaching programs; advancing and renewing teachers' skills; rekindling appreciation for academic achievement and work performance among youth; developing efficient budgets and effective funding; securing budget approval from County Council before negotiating teacher contracts; exploring means of reducing school construction costs, ie. movable modular schools; improving female and minority performance in math and sciences; reducing class size; expanding parent/school/business partnerships in determining programs and assessing school effectiveness; peer review teams assessing teacher effectiveness; emphasizing guidance, career and substance abuse counseling; expanding technical vocational education; providing second foreign language fluency for all students; supporting full-day kindergarten in every primary school; requiring principals and area experts to serve as educational leaders accountable for translating research into practice.