Prince George’s schools charge PTAs that use buildings

The John Hanson Montessori Parent Teacher Student Association has offered after-school dance and chess lessons for years, believing that the enrichment programs help engage Prince George’s County students. The group charges a small fee to pay the course instructors, and until now had been using space at the school for free. Or so the PTSA thought. Nicole Nelson, the PTSA’s vice president, said she recently received a bill from the school district asking for $2,502.70 in rental fees. Nelson believed it had to be a mistake, as the PTSA has barely $1,500 in its treasury. It turns out, as Nelson discovered, that the county’s administrative rules allow the school system to charge organizations, including PTAs, for using a school building whenever the group charges a fee for an event, even if the group doesn’t make much of a profit. (Wash. Post)

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New tech firm to help teach how to reach teachers 

A fledgling Baltimore-based technology company is partnering with the Education Industry Association to deliver the organization’s online professional development courses via its proprietary social media platform. The company, An Estuary, creates a variety of technologies for clients — who work in K-12, higher education and continuing education — to use for professional development purposes. (Daily Record)

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Teachers, Parents Struggle With New Common Core State Standards

In Kelly Thompson’s household, extracurricular activities are history. There’s no time for music lessons and after-school sports, no matter how much her two children enjoyed them. Not with the multiple tests her fourth-grader and sixth-grader take each week on top of additional hours of homework, the result of the new Common Core State Standards rolled out in Anne Arundel County Public Schools this year. The new standards are designed to better prepare students for college and careers, and sound good in theory, she and other parents say. But in practice, they say, the shifting educational tactics have left teachers frazzled, students stressed and parents frustrated. (WJZ-TV)

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FCC students record histories of veterans

In the classroom, Katy Hansen is an adjunct English professor at Frederick Community College. At home, she's an Army wife, passionate about veterans services and showing respect to former military personnel. She found a way last fall to bring the two together. Hansen's classes have recorded the military experiences of five veterans for the past three semesters as part of the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project and the Arizona-based Veterans Heritage Project. Groups of students are matched with a veteran, then interview and film the vet, transcribe the discussion and later present it to the class. (News-Post)

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At Howard's entrepreneurial 'shark' competition, top ideas have bytes

On the reality TV program "Shark Tank," investors bicker, maneuver and generally steal the thunder from aspiring entrepreneurs who come before them to pitch ideas. At Howard Community College, the Center for Entrepreneurial and Business Excellence was founded a decade ago — six years before "Shark Tank" debuted in 2009. Still, Hollywood's approach was flipped 180 degrees last week at the Fall Entrepreneurial Celebration to showcase the students as they competed in a kinder, gentler version of the popular show, with a few tweaks. (Balt. Sun)

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Students test skills in local competition

This year's SkillsUSA competition at Frederick County's Career and Technology Center was interrupted by two snow days and a delayed start. Hundreds of high school students participated in the first round last week, testing their abilities in skilled trades, health care and other professions. (News-Post)

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Farm Bureau's classroom chicks program a big hit with students

Four years ago, Karen Zimmerman was asked to lead a committee that would bring the farm experience to city dwellers and people unfamiliar with farm life, and the Frederick County Farm Bureau’s Schoolhouse Chicks program began. Last year, volunteers with the program visited 92 local classrooms in 17 schools to teach students about the miracle of birth. Each class gets three visits involving a live chicken, talking about chickens, setting up an incubator and other brooder supplies in the classroom with eggs, looking through the eggs with a flashlight a week later, and seeing the chicks hatched. The chicks are taken back to the farm. (News-Post)

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Dec. 13 // Montgomery County schools chief proposes $2.28 billion budget, with spending increases

Montgomery County’s schools chief proposed a $2.28 billion budget for next fiscal year, adding 340 new positions and boosting spending in Maryland’s largest school district by $56.4 million. Superintendent Joshua P. Starr released his recommendations Thursday at a Board of Education meeting. He said his planned 2.5 percent budget increase would address a major surge in student enrollment, help narrow the achievement gap and prepare students for “the new” at a time of changes in curriculum and modern workplace expectations. (Wash. Post)

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