Monthly Reminder…

That I’m not running in 2018 for another office if the Howard County electorate decides to select me for the Board of Education.

Remember this? It’s still true!

Yes, as a member of the Town Center Village Board, I have been very engaged in the Downtown Columbia discussions. (Tonight, our Board will testify AGAINST the increase in density and the Administration’s plan.) The 2010 plan had 5,500 units and the idea that 900 additional units won’t be counted toward density because they’re affordable sets a dangerous precedent for the county. It’s like not counting Pre-K toward elementary school capacity…

But I continue to hear from people that I am running for the County Council District 4 seat, which will become vacant in 2018. That Board of Education is just a stepping stone that I’m using. That being a political animal I really won’t be satisfied with the Board.

One day maybe I will run for County Council. But when people tell you I am running in 2018, ask yourself why they’re telling you that rumor/lie. And please tell them, stop saying it.

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BYOD Update

Update to my daughter’s usage of BYOD at her middle school – I think we’re at two instances of classroom usage. Here’s my October post:

http://kirstycat1209.blogspot.com/2015/10/when-plan-doesnt-come-together.html

And then I read this article about a teacher’s experience of using electronic devices…in THIRD GRADE. The socialization skills of her students are being stunted by an overreliance and overuse of the iPads. The quietness of eight year olds all mesmerized by screens? Maybe needed for a 15 minute break when the children have behaved well and the teachers need to chat? But dominating their schoolday?

I had been thinking about the inconsistencies of what pediatricians tell us about limiting screen time and what these policies are encouraging. Although the AAP focuses on entertainment, they encourage the non-electronic formats of books and magazines.

But this article also elucidated the issues of what we expect our educators to be for our children. Are they supposed to be tech experts? If a book online is assigned, should the ability to track student progress be available? What Pandora’s box could that open up? When tablets and wi-fi don’t work, what’s the backup plan? Are educators expected to have constant analog backups on their lesson plans? (Given they’re already employing those backups here due to the partially working grading/learning management software HCPSS currently “uses” I guess that would be a yes…) (That article is ten weeks old, but trust me, students are still “disappearing” from classes.)

Do I sound like a Luddite? I am NOT. I LOVE technology and make many of my consumer purchasing decisions based on that. Our children should be exposed to computers sometimes, but not to the exclusion of student and teacher interaction. I remember a lesson I witnessed as a volunteer in kindergarten. The teacher used Google maps to show the kids the satellite view and to talk about roads and buildings and the surrounding community. She asked them questions about places and the kids and she interacted and shared common experiences. That was cool and meant something, but it didn’t stifle socialization.

At the recent town hall held by a bipartisan group of Howard County legislators, one speaker mentioned BYOD and felt the lack of a plan as well, plus the holding back of information regarding the policy. It’s not just me at my daughter’s middle school.

But at lunch today across three periods, I saw plenty of device use. During their downtime, kids are hopping onto their devices. Good thing they get social interaction during class.

Town Hall Truths

Week 2 of convening the community about Howard County’s public schools

Thoughts:

  1. Educators are an underused resource in our system. Approximately 70% of them have advanced degrees (based on FY2014). Let’s tap into their experience. No one knows more about our educational system than teachers. Their voices and input should be heard. Many opinions should be solicited to thoroughly evaluate programs and policy changes prior to the decision.
  2. Our Board of Education could use another current school parent. My daughter is in middle school and we just left elementary school. Like many parents, I am dealing with the issue of high-stakes testing and other rapidly rolled out programs. Parents need a representative to balance the Board.
  3. We need to review whether our special education services are adequately meeting the needs of the SES students. Has HCPSS researched what programs could be incorporated into current systems? It seems like we need more personnel with SES expertise.
  4. I am so glad that our Howard County delegates, Frank Turner and Warren Miller, have joined in a bipartisan effort to increase accountability and improve our representative democracy.

Thank you to Courtney Watson & Christina Delmont-Small for moderating the Town Hall and to the Howard Community College staff/students for working the event. It was run well and I felt it was a good use of more than two hours to empower citizens.

Link

Some Good News!

By coincidence or rather Ms. Philip’s schedule and mine finally working out, the article below appeared (in print) on the day of my announcement. I felt that she really captured the essence of my disappointment with our current Board. Please let me know YOUR thoughts at kirsten@kirstencoombs.org – Feel free to share success stories too!

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/columbia/ph-ho-cf-kirsten-coombs-1029-20151027-story.html