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From the Washington Post:

"Larger and more boisterous groups have picketed Montgomery County government, but surely never one with a higher average SAT score.

"Students from the science, mathematics and computer science magnet at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring [MD] marched through downtown Rockville yesterday to defend their program, one of the top math-science operations in the nation, from the budgetary ax.

"'Fund us, Weast,' the crowd chanted, beckoning to Superintendent Jerry D. Weast as about 100 protesters -- a few were from schools other than Blair -- approached the doors of the school system's headquarters shortly after 5 p.m. One student beat a bass drum. Another carried a sign that read, 'We can do the math' ... "(click for original article)


The Young Lady is in Blair's other special program, which is smaller, but my friend Kat's eldest daughter is a "Magnet" (which is what they call themselves). The program isn't being completely cut or anything - but the funding cuts will adversely affect both the number of teachers in it and the amount of time the remaining teachers have to concentrate on Magnet projects and curriculum.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
avierra
Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Well, I hope it works out for you all. You may get some traction simply because of how it looks -- the programs for the best and brightest students are being targetted.

My kid is in kindergarten in Baltimore County, which generally has abysmal schools (but the elementary she is in is really good). I don't know what we're going to do about middle and high school, and it really troubles me.
chomiji
Apr. 22nd, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)

No magnet programs or equivalent in your school system? In MoCo, magnets are also a way of directing funds and parent involvement to low-performing schools. It's no accident that Blair - the largest and one of the most urban of all the high schools in the system - has two special programs. It was getting low test scores and showing signs of gang problems. (Still has some issues with those things, actually, but they're being mitigated with the number of bright kids, good teachers, and involved parents now associated with the school.)

We took advantage of MoCo magnets from kindergarten on: Spanish immersion in elementary, Humanities Magnet in middle school, and now Blair's CAP (communications arts). In some ways I actually regret it - our daughter didn't have friends in the neighborhood until we moved here to Takoma, near Kat, and until she and Liz both ended up at Blair, they weren't in the same school. She had very little ad hoc socializing - it all had to be carefully planned, because we'd have to drive her in 95% of the cases.

avierra
Apr. 23rd, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC)
I didn't know they actually did magnet schools for primary schools. But as it turns out, they are all on the other side of the county in any case, which I guess makes sense since those are the worst-off schools. Also, the only magnet program for language is in French, sheesh. Not that I have anything against that, but what the heck. Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, even Chinese would all be useful for immersion purposes... French, not so much.

The one spot we really have to look out for is the local high school, it is a bad scene (and if you go by the number of magnet programs a school has a as a measure of their performance, well, it has 6 magnet programs, so I guess that is enough said. >_> )

Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Luckily I have a bit of time to think about all this. And like I said, I learned a few new things about the magnet stuff, so that's all good too. ;)
chomiji
Apr. 23rd, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)

It sounds like magnets wouldn't be such a good idea for your daughter, then - I couldn't bear the idea of such a long commute for mine, either. The Spanish program was only a 15-min. drive away, and there was a good before-school program, so we dropped her off on the way to work.

Ugh, so the magnets aren't doing their job at the high school? Ours seem to have stabilized Blair a fair amount, and they're certainly turning out high-achieving kids.

Still, high school is some time away for you, as you say. Lots could happen before then. We've moved twice, and the magnet programs were actually a help, because she didn't have to change schools.

theloomofmoira
Apr. 23rd, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
unfortunately
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

April 20, 2008

SAN DIEGO – Teachers, parents and children marched by the hundreds yesterday in hopes of stopping major budget cuts and teacher layoffs that are threatening schools across the state.

The downtown rally began in Balboa Park and ended at the state government building on Front Street.

“No more cuts!” the crowd chanted during the march.

Several protesters held signs criticizing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is calling for $4.4 billion in cuts to education statewide to meet California's projected $16 billion budget shortfall.

Organizers said they collected 700 signatures on a letter of protest, which they intend to send to Schwarzenegger.

Education funding isn't the only area the governor has targeted. He has proposed a 10 percent across-the-board cut to balance the fiscal 2008-09 budget. School funding accounts for the largest chunk of the state budget each year.

Many teachers who participated in yesterday's protest have received layoff notices from their various school districts, including fourth-grade teacher Ben Champion, who wore a bright-yellow chicken suit with a sign that read, “This is Fowl.”

Champion, 30, said the San Diego Unified School Distrct was partly to blame for his layoff notice even though he was voted Teacher of the Year at Baker Elementary School last year.

“They took the easiest route by just cutting teachers instead of looking at other things to cut,” he said. “The effect will be catastrophic.”

Children of all ages showed solidarity with their teachers, chanting “Yay for school!” before the march.

“They are sending the message to everyone that they are concerned about their education,” said Andrea Thrower, a teacher at Cubberley Elementary School in Serra Mesa. “What about children who are going to face sitting in classrooms of 40? They will be greatly impacted if these cuts go through.”

In Balboa Park, 918 apples were arranged in the shape of a large apple to represent each educator who has been issued a layoff notice in San Diego's school district.

An estimated 2,000 teachers countywide could lose their jobs if the cuts are approved.

Schwarzenegger has called for budget reform measures, including setting aside more state dollars in flush years, to help districts avoid the financial roller coaster each year.
chomiji
Apr. 23rd, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)
Re: unfortunately

Oh no! Did they get your daughter's aid?

theloomofmoira
Apr. 25th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Re: unfortunately
the official reply is that since her official paperwork states that she needs an aide, the school has to provide one for her. but, again, the interaction between the aide's union and administration, etc... they don't have to keep her same aide, and many aides are senior in the union but have absolutely no experience with autism or similar.

but they said nothing would go into effect in that department until next school year.

(yeah, answer= nobody knows yet)

the school library is closing down unless they manage to raise enough money via community (the principal is running his first, rather unplanned marathon this weekend for this purpose), the art and music programs are already completely funded by the PTA anyway, and the classes might double in size as teachers are laid off.

40 kids in one room? who are we kidding here?

2000 teachers laid off in San Diego county alone ?

yep, country's going in a real good direction there. pretty much the whole country. I notice not only did they target education in your circumstances, but specifically math and science. who needs that stuff anyway?
chomiji
Apr. 29th, 2008 02:00 am (UTC)
Re: unfortunately

Wow, the library is closing? That really rots! And no, not much will be accomplished with 40 kids in one room, especially at that age - 30 was bad enough even with a pretty high-achieving group.

They targeted the math and science, I'm guessing, because they figured it wouldn't look like they were taking it away from kids who "needed" it ... I hate it when tensions get set up between the different types of special programs that way. To quote (from memory) a parent of a gifted child in a memoir I read as a teen: "Is there really any difference in educating all of the children to achieve their full potential?"

More on the issue, from Sunday's editorial/opinions section. In the accompanying photo, the girl on the right, in the rear, with the dark blonde hair and polarized glasses (just behind the boy with the bushy hair) is my friend's daughter.

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