Saturday  •  July 18, 2020

Recap &  Analysis of the HCPSS Fall 2020 School “Re-opening” Plan

On July 9, Superintendent Martirano proposed a hybrid education model for HCPSS students (2 days in person learning & 3 days virtual learning) beginning on Sepember 15 for PK-3 and active for all students by October 28. Along with this was the choice for students to remain in fully virtual learning mode if they & their parents didn’t feel comfortable returning (the most important word there being….choice!).

One week later (at the July 16 BOE meeting), for unclear reasons, Superintendent Martirano then proposed for all students, PK-12, to begin the 2020-2021 school year in fully virtual learning mode for the first quarter (through November 6, 2020).

 

Due to an aggressive push by BOE members Mallo & Taj, the Board of Education then decided in a 6-1 vote to force all PK-12 students to have fully virtual learning for the entire first semester, through January 28, 2021completely neglecting both the overwhelming input from students, parents & teachers as well as the professional recommendations of countless medical, educational, and child development experts across the country.

 

Staying true to form, the BOE has completely neglected the input & preferred options submitted by HCPSS stakeholders with this decision, as shown in the these charts from the HCPSS 2020-2021 School Year Community Input Survey:

 

 

Here are the key takeaways:

  • 60% of students preferred some sort of in-person learning this Fall (fully in-person or hybrid)

     

  • Only 13% of students preferred full virtual learning this Fall

     

  • The rest were “unsure” of what they wanted or had no preference

     

  • 70% of parents preferred some sort of in-person learning this Fall (fully in-person or hybrid)

     

  • Only 25% of parents preferred full virtual learning this Fall

     

  • The rest were “unsure” of what they wanted or had no preference

     

  • 49% of grades PK-5 teachers preferred some sort of in-person learning this Fall (fully in-person or hybrid)

     

  • Only 32% of grades PK-5 teachers preferred full virtual learning this Fall

     

  • The rest were “unsure” of what they wanted or had no preference

     

  • 48% of grades 6-12 teachers preferred some sort of in-person learning this Fall (fully in-person or hybrid)

     

  • Only 35% of grades 6-12 teachers preferred full virtual learning this Fall

     

  • The rest were “unsure” of what they wanted or had no preference


Doubling down on this neglect of stakeholder input, the Board proceeded to vote down an amendment proposed by Christina Delmont-Small that would have given the HCPSS community the opportunity to review future proposed drafts of the HCPSS hybrid learning plan before the Board receives & votes on the plan. This amendment failed in a split vote (Ellis, Mallo, Taj, and Koung voting against this), since BOE member Coombs was unable to actually vote on the matter due to a medical emergency.

 

Does formal, coordinated community input on what is arguably the most important plan for HCPSS students since the founding of Howard County really scare them this much? What are they afraid of?

 

From the 2019 redistricting pre-planning stakeholder surveywhich listed maintaining contiguous communities & neighborhoodstransportation concerns (i.e. neighborhood schools), and keeping feeds together as the top three priorities, to the 2020 graduation plans, and now to the plans for the 2020-2021 school yearthe HCPSS administration seems to consistently blow off stakeholder input.

 

Why even bother with community input surveys if the BOE and Superintendent Martirano are just going to ignore the responses and plow ahead with whatever decisions that they feel are best, even if those decisions are distinctly counter to the will of the overwhelming majority of HCPSS stakeholders?

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