Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announces smaller scope of potential school system audit

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball last week announced a more narrow scope of his request for a performance audit of the school system. The narrowed scope, to be completed by the Maryland State Department of Education, would look into the Howard County Public School System’s health and dental fund; budgeting and actual expenditure variance; personnel cost development; and supplemental income and non-salary benefits. The narrowed scope is “based on an HCPSS commitment to share other information that may also generate cost-saving opportunities,” according to a July 12 news release. Ball and the school system administration have had collaborative, ongoing dialogue on how best to define the scope of the audit since it was proposed last month. (Balt. Sun)

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Study: Maryland charter students’ gains outpace those at traditional schools; black, Hispanic pupils benefit most

A new study has found that students at Maryland charter schools, especially those who are black or Hispanic, have on average made greater academic progress than their counterparts in traditional public schools. While the study noted deficiencies in about a third of charter schools, the student gains were the equivalent of them getting about an extra month of learning over the typical 180-day school year, according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, or CREDO. For black and Hispanic students, the progress was even more pronounced. Black charter students, for example, made math gains equivalent to 47 extra days of learning, while Hispanic children’s advances in reading represented 77 additional days of learning. (Balt. Sun)

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Kurt Schmoke wants to create a ‘City University of Baltimore.’ Can it be done?

University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke is proposing three of the city’s institutions of higher education be restructured in a style similar to the City University of New York, an idea he acknowledged is politically divisive but believes could strengthen the schools and benefit students. Nearly 60 years ago, the New York State Legislature formally established the CUNY system — uniting several municipal colleges into an integrated system that’s grown to include two dozen campuses. Schmoke is suggesting the University of Baltimore, Baltimore City Community College and Coppin State University follow suit, together becoming what he’s dubbed the City University of Baltimore. “With collaboration,” Schmoke said, “we could serve this community much better.” (Balt. Sun)

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Audit: Maryland Dept. Did Not Properly Store Data For 1.4 Million Students

The Maryland State Department of Education "inappropriately stored" personal information of 1.4 million students and more than 230,000 teachers, leaving them vulnerable to potential bad actors, according to an audit published earlier this month. "As of June 29, 2018, we determined that separate databases for statewide student and teacher identity information held 1,430,940 unique student names and social security numbers and 233,130 unique teacher names and [social security numbers] respectively; all stored in clear text," the audit said. "In addition, we noted that this sensitive PII was not adequately protected by other substantial mitigating controls such as the use of data loss prevention software." (Ed. Week)

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Maryland banned a school from voucher program over anti-LGBT views. It says that violates religious freedom.

A private Christian Academy whose conservative values don’t accept same-sex marriage or transgender people says Maryland unfairly threw it out of a school voucher program because of its religious beliefs. Administrators of the multimillion-dollar scholarship program counter that the state can’t allow taxpayer money to go to any institution – religious or otherwise – that discriminates against students because of their sexual orientation. Now, a federal court has been asked to decide who is right in a case with broad implications for the voucher system, anti-discrimination laws, and the battle between those championing religious liberties and others hoping to strengthen the rights of LGBTQ students. (Balt. Sun)

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MCPS Expected To Review Extracurricular Eligibility Guidelines

The Montgomery County Board of Education expects to launch a review of its policy that determines what makes students ineligible for extracurricular activities. In a resolution introduced at a recent school board meeting, the board directed its policy management subcommittee and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) staff to benchmark its requirements with neighboring districts and present recommended changes during the 2019-2020 school year. Board Vice President Pat O’Neill, who introduced the resolution, said any potential changes would take effect for the 2020-2021 school year, and the goal of the review is to find the appropriate balance between school work and extracurriculars, such as sports or music groups. (Bethesda)

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DC, Virginia and Maryland students ranked for student debt

Students in D.C., Virginia and Maryland rank better than students elsewhere in a list of states with the most post-graduation student debt, according to the financial website WalletHub. D.C. students ranked sixth for the least amount of debt, Virginia is ranked 13th and Maryland 17th. The analysis weighed several factors to come up with the rankings, including average student debt, the share of students in each state with debt and the share of student loans that are past due or in default. (WTOP)

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Maryland’s ban of Christian school from voucher program over its beliefs about gays triggers lawsuit, with broad implications

A private Christian Academy whose conservative values don’t accept same-sex marriage or transgender people says Maryland unfairly threw it out of a school voucher program because of its religious beliefs. Administrators of the multimillion-dollar scholarship program counter that the state can’t allow taxpayer money to go to any institution – religious or otherwise – that discriminates against students because of their sexual orientation. (Balt. Sun)

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