Montgomery superintendent says without federal standards, schools can focus on values -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery schools Superintendent Joshua P. Starr calls it Larry.

After a 10-month process, the members of the Montgomery County Board of Education adopted Tuesday new core values for the school system that they hope are more memorable than the last: Learning, Relationships, Respect, Excellence and Equity (acronym: LRREE).

Although each school district in the nation has created and displayed values for the past decade, Starr said they were all just probably following the same mantra — meet standards for teaching and learning under federal mandate No Child Left Behind.

With Maryland, along with most states in the nation, operating under a waiver from that plan and with a little bit of time before the next set of standards rolls in, Starr said he sees a major opportunity for the country and county.

“This void right now exists where we get to define for ourselves what we want for our kids,” he said.

The board members produced the new values with hopes that they could be simpler but more actionable.

Underneath each value, the board now has defined beliefs about what that word means in terms of the culture in the school system as well as actionable items about what that means about behavior.

These statements show that the board “expects a level of accountability for itself and others” and is a “powerful evolution of the value,” Starr said Tuesday.

“We think we have … produced values that will really inform our decision making going forward,” said board member Shirley Brandman, who was president of the board in July when the process began.

Under the top value — learning — the belief is that the school system “must engage every student, every day,” and the behavior is that staff will “encourage and support critical thinking, problem solving, active questioning and risk taking to continuously improve.”

The school board left one value intact that stated “student outcomes shall not be predictable by race or ethnicity,” but added “socioeconomic status” to the end. Also new is the expected associated behavior that the school system will “distribute resources as necessary to provide extra supports and interventions so that all students can achieve.”

The board also approved new vision and mission statements, which Brandman said are meant to capture what inspires school system employees to come to work every day. Both are considerably shorter and simplified.

The old values and mission can still be found on the school system’s website. The new values can be found attached to the board’s agenda for Tuesday.

jbondeson@gazette.net