Keeping You Current on Education
Reform in Maryland
|February 18, 2000
||Vol. 11, No. 3
Expulsions Decrease, New Safety Hotline Launched
State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and Lt. Governor
Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend met at Lyndale/Brooklyn Park Middle School in Anne Arundel
County earlier this month to release updated gun-related expulsion data and unveil a
statewide safe schools hotline.
New data reveal that the number of Maryland students expelled for
bringing a firearm to school has decreased. During the 1998-99 school year, 31 students
were expelled for bringing a gun to school down from 64 in 1997-98 and 73 in
1996-97. A breakdown of the 1998-99 data shows that of the 31 gun-related expulsions, 30
involved a handgun and 1
involved a rifle or shotgun. Five of the 31 incidents occurred at middle schools while the
remaining 26 were in high schools. There were no gun-related expulsions at elementary
We are very pleased with the progress of local schools in
sending the message that threats to school safety will not be tolerated, said Dr.
Grasmick. When schools are not safe, learning is stunted and children do not
flourish. That is why we must work to keep our schools secure and peaceful places to learn
and to grow.
After the encouraging new data was released, the states new
safe schools hotline was launched. A student was on hand to place the first call to the
States safe schools hotline by calling 877-MD-NOFEAR. Calls can be placed
anonymously and will be answered by the Maryland State Police Criminal Intelligence
"...threats to school safety will not be tolerated."
- Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
AT&T donated $25,000 and promotional
materials to the Maryland Safe Schools Interagency Steering Committee
for the hotline.
Coordinate First-Ever Statewide Legislative Lobbying Day
On February 16, 120 Maryland students converged
upon the State House chamber in Annapolis, where they were met by House Speaker Cas Taylor
and Senate President Mike Miller.
The rendezvous was part of the first-ever Maryland Association of
Student Council (MASC) Statewide Legislative Lobbying Day. The students, representing
middle and high schools from 16 Maryland school systems, put in practice lobbying skills
attained through MASC workshops.
In past years, many MASC members received training in the
lobbying process, but only a handful actually lobbied the state legislature, said
MASC advisor Catherine McCall. The students decided to coordinate a Statewide
Legislative Lobbying Day to open the experience up to more members.
Students spent the afternoon meeting with legislators and
distributing MASC position papers detailing students stances on bills.
Board Member Nominations
In early February, MASC held its annual Legislative Session,
attended by 582 students representing 112 Maryland middle and high schools. The students
nominated two candidates for the 2000-01 State Board of Education student
memberLauren McAlee of Anne Arundel County and Aaron Merki of Charles County.
After reviewing the nominations, Governor Glendening selected
Aaron Merki of Maurice McDonough High School to serve as a voting member. His term begins
Students also revised the MASC platform during the Legislative
Session. The platform details MASC positions on youth representation, peer leadership,
education, health and social issues, and the environment. Students added a new
plank--student safety and discipline--to the existing platform.
The new plank outlines MASCs support for intervention
programs for students with behavioral problems and alternative education opportunities for
Regarding discipline, MASC went on record strongly opposing
punishing students in school for out-of-school behavior, such as underage drinking.
Many School Systems Seek Weather-Related Calendar Waivers
Many of Marylands 24 school systems are
seeking to take advantage of a rare waiver of the state-mandated minimum 180-day calendar,
but a number of systems have requested clarification of the waiver process in this year
peppered with an abnormal number of weather-related closings.
At its meeting of February 1, the State Board of Education
granted authority to School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick to approve waivers of up to
four days to systems that were closed on September 16 and/or 17 due to Hurricane Floyd or
January 25 and/or 26 because of a winter storm.
However, systems granted waivers permitting a reduction in the
number of school days still must meet the state requirement for minimum number of hours
school must be in session during a 10-month period.
Elementary and middle schools must be in session at least 1,080
hours and high schools must be in session 1,170 hours. Systems applying for waivers must
calculate their hours in session, deducting hours for days on which weather necessitated
delayed openings. Some time can be made up by extending the school day.
The state average school day is 6.5 hours, but some systems have
average days of 6.3 hours. Three systemsCaroline, Carroll and Wicomicohad
average days of 7.0 hours last year.
As of February 17, waivers had been granted to Anne Arundel (four
days), Baltimore City (three), Calvert (three), Caroline (three), Charles (three), Harford
(four), Montgomery (two), Queen Annes (four), St. Marys (four), Talbot (four)
and Wicomico (three) school systems.
There is no deadline for a system to apply for a waiver
concerning the four specified dates, but the State Boards action to date will apply
only to the four days cited and not to any days postponed after February 1.
Maryland Teacher-in-Residence Is On The Move
Ed Silver Jr., Marylands first
Teacher-in-Residence, has already accomplished more than could have been imagined in the
first half of his one-year term in the unique position. But he still has big plans for the
second half of the school year.
Since September, Silver a former Maryland Teacher of the
Year and current helping teacher for Kent County Public Schools has visited 20
schools in 12 of the states 24 systems. The program has enhanced communication
Maryland teachers and the State Department of Education. Including appearances at
conventions, Silver has talked directly with more than 400 teachers and many students.
My goal is to go to every school system before the year is
over, said Silver, a former elementary school teacher.
"Talk about getting kids in touch with
realitythis is it.
Silver has heard teachers and administrators
statewide echo some of the same concerns high school assessments, student
discipline, and the need for the state to recruit high-quality teachers. He has also
witnessed some unexpected success stories.
I have been amazed at some of the things people are doing
in education today, he said. I talked with a teacher at Easton High School who
is re-conditioning an airplane with a group of at-risk kids. I met another teacher in
Talbot County whose cooking class has developed into something that actually caters meals
for events in and around the school. Talk about getting kids in touch with
realitythis is it.
Silver wants to see such successful and innovative programs
shared statewide, so that schools can learn from each other. He hopes his position can
play a key role in meeting that objective.
Silver said while visiting Timonium Elementary School in
Baltimore County earlier this month, he encountered five teachers from Charles County who
also were visiting to learn more about the programs that produced outstanding MSPAP scores
I think this is happening more and more due to web site
access and people seeing what other people are doing right, said Silver. We
need to link more schools to other schools. We need to share ideas across the
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site: www.msde.state.md.us
Assistant State Superintendent
Neil H. Greenberger