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Thursday, January 21, 2016

STICHNOTH MCPS FY 17 BUDGET TESTIMONY PRESENTED ORALLY TO BOE

January 14, 2015 7:00 pm

Mr. Durso, Boardmembers, Mr. Bowers:
Here’s what I like: grade 3 summer learning, CTE, SEPA enhancements (about $1.28 million, net)
Unfortunately, your message does not seem to be projecting beyond the inner circle of your partners, and you’re not picking up on where your community and funder are headed.
Tonight’s powerful testimony reveals widespread, systemwide, great need, which may suggest the need for a larger budget. I just wish I had faith you were optimizing your expenditures.
I’m a schools guy, and I want to support MCPS.
But I can’t--so long as I don’t see what you’re up to.
Is there a strategy?  What are the priorities? What are the costs? Across what timeline? How does your budget serve the strategy?
Again: I want to support MCPS but I can’t because, even more fundamentally than being a schools guy, I’m a segregated East County guy.  The achievement gap is a west-county/east county wedge, and an east county cancer.
So, let's start right there: is there a gap strategy? i.e, an east-county strategy?  with costs and timelines? I don’t see it.
I used to think that your so-called “strategic enhancements”represented  your latest new, revised gap strategy. Naw--it’s just the “new-spending-for-everything” catchall. But why highlight these items under such a highfalutin title?--dual language immersion consultants? new marking period assessments? I’m not saying that these things should not be done. You got some new chores ; you need to pay to get ‘em done:  business as usual, neither  “strategic enhancement,” nor gap closing, nor east-county revival.
Just where do gap and east-county fall on you priority list ?
The OLO staffing and resources brouhaha was enlightening:
                   -Two successive superintendents trashed OLO for supposedly misunderstanding compensatory spending law: thereby debasing and evading an important discussion: You’re missing the forest on this whole staffing and resources back and forth: This community and your funder are sick and tired of the gap—38 years of your (non)results--and your failure to allocate our resources strategically and equitably.
    -Dr. Starr made explicit your intentional tradeoff of east county education for west county education. You see, if MCPS reallocated its spending, certain, unspecified “core instructional elements” of the MCPS program could be left unfunded for our green zone kids;  that’s “non-negotiable!” you huff—no tradeoffs of your west county priority. You see this tear? No? Hire a Superintendent who’ll do what Dr. Weast did: Invite those poor deprived green zone kids to join us in our “amply-provisioned” red zone schools.
     For the record: I’m betting you’ll negotiate (when the price is right).
    We want equity now: the same results/life-opportunities as our west county children get. You think our east county parents are different?/ have lesser dreams and expectations for our east county children?
    For so long as you refuse to reallocate your budget and you continue to drive our County down this path, throwing more County resources at you would be wasteful--merely enable your mistake.
    We no longer buy the pitch that high test scores for rich neighborhoods is a strategic advantage sufficient for our County’s economic development; we need broad-based, career-readiness success (not least in the new White Oak Master Plan area). If you aren’t voluntarily redirecting our energy there, who must we look to to deliver the message to you?--the Executive and the Council, by holding the spigot for now at MOE.
Thank you.
                                                                                                                                            Frederick Stichnoth
                                                                                                                                Colesville, Silver Spring
                                                                                                                               

cc: County Executive Leggett, County Council