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Baltimore County educators need forum to voice concerns [Commentary]

We know that Baltimore County's teachers chose their essential profession out of a love of teaching and love of children.

A growing group of parents, teachers, grandparents and citizens have formed to protect our children and support you, our teachers in Baltimore County. We originally came together when a parent was arrested for speaking up during a school board forum on Common Core, which alarmed and enraged citizens in Maryland and across the country.

The incident affirmed our belief that recent education reforms, including Common Core standards, are being implemented in a manner that excludes parental, educator and public input.

Our purposes are to:

• support our teachers through disastrous implementation issues;

• retain good teachers in our county despite warnings from TABCO that the issues will lead to a mass exodus of teachers this year;

• protect our children from a barrage of education reforms that are not in their best interest and have no evidence of success;

• safeguard our children's and families' privacy;

• spare our children from excessive assessments that have little value;

• eliminate the tying of teacher assessments to kids' test scores;

• assert our local school system's autonomy in making decisions for our children by withdrawing support for these education reforms instead of piling more reforms upon existing problems;

• demand accountability for the waste of millions of county dollars due to ineffective decision-making spent on three versions of curricula and counting;

• move to a fully elected school board with transparency, oversight, and accountability;

• demand that parents and teachers have a voice in advance of any education reforms, rather than finding out about them upon implementation.

We understand that teachers are overwhelmed with trying to implement these reforms with insufficient support, training, materials and texts, time and curricula. With all this to deal with, it is difficult for educators to look beyond the next couple of weeks, much less at the long-term consequences of these recent reforms and the ones to come. We fear that these issues are just the beginning of a decline in our education system as the state school board sells our interests out for federal grant funds with little thought of immediate or especially future consequences. By allowing decisions in our county to be dictated to our local school systems, our teachers become more like facilitators than the personal, hands-on, and effective educators they are. Together, we must put an end to this.

We trust our teachers and local schools, not the federal bureaucracy to which the Maryland State Board of Education is increasingly beholden. We appreciate and value you and want to keep you!

Baltimore County educators need an environment that allows them to voice their concerns publicly, without intimidation or fear of retribution. We invite educators to join forces with parents and citizens in standing up for our children, our teachers, and our local education system. We call upon TABCO to initiate a teacher petition that demands the halt of the implementation of Common Core, the expansion of the Longitudinal Database, and PARCC assessments.

We are concerned about recent ethics questions regarding our county superintendent.

Please contact us by email at bcceo1@gmail.com from your personal computer or by leaving a message at 443-595-7020 to let us know how we can work together. We will help protect teachers' anonymity, so you can feel safe to reach out to us. Our website is here: http://www.bcceo.blogspot.com.

On behalf of hundreds of parents and citizens and the children of our county, we thank and support our county teachers, faculty and staff.

Ann Miller

Baltimore County Coalition For Education Oversight

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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