Friday, September 10, 2010

Hans Riemer: Working Together To Support High Quality Schools

Following is a policy piece released by at-large candidate Hans Riemer's campaign on public schools.


Montgomery County is in the midst of an ongoing fiscal crisis. Teacher pay has been cut along with school services that parents have come to rely on. As we move forward, we must work to keep cuts out of the classroom. We cannot take our educational progress for granted, and we must be mindful that while our tax base is shrinking our challenges to promote excellent education are growing as a result of demographic change. We must work hard to protect our schools and remain ahead of the curve so that Montgomery County can continue to be a great place to raise a family.

Accountability and Partnership in School Management:

Hans’ first priority as Councilmember will be to stabilize our long-term fiscal position in a way that protects our key priorities, particularly education. Hans’ goal is to meet the challenge of restructuring our government for a new era of reduced tax revenues, while working diligently to expand our tax base for the long term.

The County Council is the funding agent for Montgomery County Public Schools, and has an obligation to make sure that our money is well spent. On the Council we should have a culture of accountability and collaboration with the school board and MCPS leadership.

The next Council will need to take a step forward in its relationship with the School Board and MCPS to provide an effective and constructive financial oversight role. In the recent budget, the process clearly broke down, as MCPS threatened to sue the County. Collaboration must be the guiding principle for our toughest decisions as we work through our fiscal challenge.

Dynamic Teaching Practices for a New Student Body:

Educational data shows that the most important factor in student achievement is teacher quality – it is more determinative than the social conditions in the family or the overall conditions at the school or in the school system. Teachers who are not meeting standards for our children need training on successful methods and peer support from teachers in the district who graduate students with records of excellence. Hans supports MCPS and MCEA’s teacher evaluation program to support teacher progress, including termination for those who do not improve.

Engaging All the Communities in our Student Population:

Low-income and disadvantaged families are increasingly moving into Montgomery County and their children are enrolling in the school system. The county faces signficant achievement gaps in our schools. While we have made strides in areas such as increased AP success for minority students, graduation rates for non-white, non-Asian Pacific students have also gone down steadily over the past 5 years.

On the Council Hans will advocate for universal Pre-K so we can put children on the path to overcoming second-language issues early. To involve parents who are unfamiliar with English or with our educational system, our schools have to take full advantage of every tool to make these willing parents full partners in their children’s education. The Language Assistance Services Unit is an essential tool. We need to make sure schools take advantage of these services to improve parent participation by communicating in their language about school calendars, parent meetings and student activities.

Montgomery College: Training Workers for High-Paying Jobs

Montgomery County’s higher education system needs to be a critical part of our plan to attract new jobs and investment in green energy, life science and nanotechnology industries. We need to partner with Montgomery College and our other higher education institutions and leading employers to train workers to take the higher paying jobs that we are striving so hard to create here in Montgomery County.