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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Education News (Thursday)

(Updated 19 Feb 2006)
Alternatives to public schools (Enrollment down, many families vote with their feet).
  • County tops state in most home-schoolers.
    • Gazette, 2 Feb 2006 (by Guy Leonard ,Staff Writer).
    Home-based education, commonly known as home schooling, is growing in Prince George’s County, the latest figures from the Maryland State Department of Education show.

    In the 2002-2003 school year, 3,018 students were being taught at home in Prince George’s, more than in any other county in Maryland. There are only 2,252 such students in Montgomery County, which has the largest school system in the state.
    [. . .]
    . . . 13-year-old is already taking Algebra II, usually a subject for high school juniors, and second-year Spanish.

    A survey of 16,311 students taking the Iowa Test of Basic Skills found the home schooled students scoring in the 79th percentile for reading and the 73rd percentile for language and mathematics. Public schools nationwide averaged in the 50th percentile for the test for reading, language and mathematics.
    [Full story].
  • Catholic Schools Try to Get Their Word Out.
    • Post, 2 Feb 2006 (by Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    . . . In Prince George's County, 29 Catholic schools educate about 9,300 children, from pre-kindergarten through high school. That's more than the 8,100 enrolled in D.C. Catholic schools but less than Montgomery County's 12,300.

    At St. Matthias on Annapolis Road, where the tuition is $4,000 a year, about 220 students are enrolled in the elementary and middle grades. Church officials said that some of their schools inside the Beltway in Prince George's are under-enrolled, but that others outside the Beltway are full. They also see enrollment growth in secondary grades -- up 17 percent in their Prince George's schools in the past decade -- some of which has been fueled by students leaving public schools. Catholic school elementary enrollment, however, dropped 6 percent in the same period.

    Overall enrollment in the county's Catholic schools was virtually unchanged over the decade. Public school enrollment in Prince George's -- now about 133,300 -- has dipped in the past two years but is still up from 118,500 in 1995.
School Board, CEO
  • Debate over school board takes a new twist.
  • . . . County lawmakers are considering whether to return the school board to a structure with nine, single-member districts, to adopt a structure where some board members are elected from districts and others are chosen at large or to come up with some other plan.
    [. . .]
    Del. Dereck Davis (D-Dist. 25) of Upper Marlboro is opting for the ‘‘other” option, proposing that the county retain the school board’s current structure, where members are appointed, for at least two more years.

    Retaining the appointed school board is an approach that has found some support in the county for at least the past two years.

    Davis said keeping the appointed board on could help with stabilizing the system at a time when the school board is in the process of selecting a new CEO for the system.

    There’s also a practical argument, Davis says. This year’s school board bill isn’t much different from one that failed last year.

    ‘‘I told my colleagues that if they want to send out a bill to make a point and take a stand, then I’d be willing to make that same point and that same stand,” Davis said. ‘‘I just don’t think the bill has a prayer when it passes out of the House.”

    Del. James Hubbard (D-Dist. 23) said that it’s too early to tell what will happen, but delegates are concentrating on getting a bill to the Senate quickly.

    ‘‘My gut feeling is that we’ll send over a bill that will have nine single-member districts in line with the council districts,” Hubbard said. ‘‘We want to get whatever bill we have over to them in the next two weeks... we want to make sure they have plenty of time.”

    Hubbard said he believed the majority of the delegation still favors returning to the nine single-member district plan, as he does.
    [. . .]

    Del. Doyle Niemann, (D-Dist.47) of Mount Rainier said a compromise measure offered by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Dist. 22) of University Park hasn’t gotten much traction.

    Pinsky wants to have school board members elected from five residential districts; four other seats would be filled by countywide voting.

    ‘‘I’d rather see more representatives elected from districts,” Niemann said. ‘‘I think the five-to-four hybrid measure is the wrong balance. I don’t think there’s much support for compromise without knowing what the Senate wants to do.”
    [. . .]
    Upper Marlboro education advocate Donna Hathaway Beck said the Senate was playing a political waiting game to let the default legislation go through.
    [. . .]
    ‘‘I think the Senate wants to drag this out as long as they can so they can anoint their own candidates,” Beck said. ‘‘We’re going to an anointed board.”.

School bus violence
  • Bus Service From Crossland High School Returns To Normal .
  • Witnesses Identify Teen Who Shot at P.G. County School Bus.
  • A teenager who fired a gun at Prince George's County school bus is still on the run, but police know who they're looking for..
    [. . .]
    Interim school chief Howard Burnett tells The Washington Post that witnesses identified a male Crossland student as the shooter.

    He says the student will be expelled. School officials routinely don't release the names of students in disciplinary cases.
    • [Comment: Why does the school system protect violent criminals? Shouldn't members of public have a right to know so that they can avoid the criminals or take measures to protect themselves?]
  • Shots fired at Prince George's Co. school bus; Police probing whether student opened fire during fight; no one was hurt .
  • Shots Fired at Pr. George's School Bus.
    • Post, 2 Feb 2006 (by Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writer).
    A high school student fired shots at a Prince George's County school bus yesterday afternoon after he left the bus following a fight among passengers, police and school officials said.
    [. . .]
    It was at least the second significant outbreak of violence linked to county school buses this academic year. Police used pepper spray and a Taser stun gun in November to quell a melee involving several students who were riding a bus to DuVal High School in Lanham.
    [. . .]
    Burnett said the shooter, a male Crossland student, was identified by witnesses and being sought by police. He said the student would be expelled. Burnett said the student's age and grade level were not immediately available. School officials routinely withhold the identity of students in disciplinary cases.
  • Shots fired at Prince George's school bus.

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