A school district in Maryland recently voted to give teachers and administrators more days off throughout the year, with murky details as to why, leading some parents to voice concerns.
Fox 5 DC reported that the Montgomery County’s Board of Education (MCBOE) called a special meeting Tuesday, which ended with a vote to approve a 2021-2022 calendar change that will give Montgomery County Public School teachers and administrators more days off. The special meeting was called after what School Board President Brenda Wolff said was a “procedural mistake” at the last meeting while school board members voted on the changed calendar.
The new calendar gives teachers the week off between Christmas and New Year’s but also allows other staffers, such as janitors, time off when they normally would have to work.
Fox 5 reported that parents and BOE members “voiced frustrations” at the previous meeting after they said they didn’t receive the details of the calendar change proposal until just before the vote.
“Yes, I agree, there may be processes in which we can improve what that communication looks like, but we did start this conversation a couple months ago,” Montgomery County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said on Tuesday.
Dr. Judith Docca, an MCBOE member, supported the vote, saying, “Our teachers and our administrators and other employees need a break so they can refresh and do a better job with our students.”
Dawn Iannaco-Hahn, an MCPS parent, said: “I just want transparency and honesty. If they want a break for the staff, then just say that. Don’t mask it as professional development.”
Another MCPS parent, Dr. Jennifer Linton Reesman, told “Fox & Friends First” that the school board gave parents “conflicting reasons” for the expanded calendar.
“They’ve given us conflicting reasons, saying that on one hand it’s for professional development, on the other hand it’s for planning time, which are two very different things,” Reesman told the hosts, according to the Daily Caller. “All we know is that they’ve cut instructional time for children across the board here in Maryland and parents here, we are furious, we’re fed up about this.”
Reesman also told the program that fewer teaching days would cause educational issues for kids, pointing out that reading and math scores are down in the district.
“We know that children who are receiving reduced instructional time in school are more likely to have less educational outcomes, less likely to go to college, more likely to learn less over time, over their entire lifetime,” Reesman said.
Montgomery County Education Association (a teachers’ union) president Jennifer Martin, however, defended the extra days off for teachers.
“I think that while it doesn’t do nearly as much for teachers as needed, it is in a step in the right direction,” she said.
On Twitter, Martin added that “[Early-release time is] an important step toward improving morale and giving teachers the space they need in order to prepare for students and give them an excellent education.”
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