Photo courtesy of the Houston Independent School District
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
TOWSON, Md. - Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance said he takes full responsibility for the difficulties teachers have had accessing and implementing the new English/language arts curriculum for elementary students.
Teachers and parents have expressed concern over the curriculum, known as “Common Core,” which the county has reworked to remain in compliance with new academic standards. The Teachers Association of Baltimore County said teachers received the new curriculum just prior to the start of the school year, which has required long hours after school to piece their lessons together.
In addition, teachers have had trouble accessing the website needed to pull their lessons. Tensions over the curriculum has been felt across the state and reached a boiling point last month when an Ellicott City man was arrested during a town hall meeting to discuss Common Core . Those charges were later dropped.
Dance tried to address concerns over the curriculum and outline how he plans on fixing the problems in a letter he sent Monday to teachers and administrators.
On a related note, Dance is scheduled to host the fourth of five scheduled community meetings this fall at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, located at 938 York Road in Towson. Dance has called the meetings part of his “commitment to have timely, transparent and clear communications and to be responsive to the community.”
Here is the text to that letter Dance sent out Monday:
Dear Administrators & Teachers:
The heartbeat of our school system is evident in each of our 173 schools, centers, and programs and our nearly 9,000 classrooms. That heartbeat – authentic teaching and learning – occurs daily because of you. Day in and day out, each of you puts in countless hours ensuring that our students are prepared to meet the challenges of the future. As I visit schools, I admire the hard work, perseverance, resiliency, and dedication I see. I take every opportunity afforded to me to thank you personally for what you do.
We are at an exciting but yet critical time in education. There is a lot of optimism with Maryland’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards. Team BCPS is raising the bar for ALL students, yet there remains a lot of caution. We see the promise of the new PARCC assessments, but they have not been fully created. There is hope with the new evaluation system that genuine authentic conversations and strategic student learning outcomes will serve to accelerate student achievement.
But, leveled in all of these initiatives is anxiety since they are all occurring at the same time. As the leader of this school system and a member of Team BCPS, I can feel the high levels of anxiety throughout our organization. Please know that I understand what is occurring throughout education is indeed challenging.
We cannot minimize the immense challenge ahead of us, but we also must not forget that with any challenge comes an even greater opportunity. And, the spirit of Team BCPS must seize this opportunity to ensure a world-class curriculum for every student, in every school, in every community. Without a quality curriculum that is based on quality standards, nothing else matters.
As we continue along our instructional digital conversion and build our curriculum in a digital platform, we have a responsibility to supply each of you with the tools and resources needed to be successful.
That is our responsibility and one that we intend to meet. To that point, I must personally take sole responsibility for the issues and mistakes evident in our Elementary English/Language Arts Unit 1 curriculum that we implemented this school year. I have never believed in excuses, and this instance is no exception.
To our elementary administrators and teachers, I want to personally thank you for your patience and flexibility as we develop future units. Thank you for partnering and collaborating with us to ensure we get this right. Administrators and teachers have spoken; focus groups have met and offered suggestions on future units; and we have listened and are extremely excited about what the future holds. In addition, each week Verletta White, Chief Academic Officer, will be communicating directly with administrators and teachers regarding our progress.
As we continue along our path, I want to renew my commitment to you to always listen and provide the leadership needed so we are on target with meeting the goals we have set for our 108,000 students. Thank you for what you do – I notice it, and it is sincerely appreciated.
Have a great week.
S. Dallas Dance
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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