May 7, 2001 Vol. 12 , No. 5

Visionary Panel Chairs Named

State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick has named Jack Jennings, the director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy, and Sister Helen Amos, the executive chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Mercy Health Services in Baltimore, to head the Visionary Panel for Better Schools that will conduct a year-long examination of Maryland’s widely-recognized school reform program.

The study group will be asked to review Maryland’s progress over the past 10 years and to make recommendations on measures that can accelerate progress in the decade ahead.

Although many studies have been made of the first decade of the state’s school reform program, Dr. Grasmick emphasized she wanted this group to use its analysis of the past to provide a look toward the future.

"We had a number of objectives when we decided to create this panel," said Dr. Grasmick. "We needed the advice and opinions of people who understand education, and how to run an efficient organization. And we were determined to have a panel that could look at the world around the Maryland State Department of Education and give us a vision on where we should fit in over the next decade. With Jack Jennings and Sister Helen Amos heading this panel, we are guaranteed to reach all of our objectives."

Jennings is director of a center considered a national non-partisan advocate for improved public schools. For more than 25 years, he worked in the area of federal aid to education. Sister Helen Amos is currently on the boards of 15 major organizations. She was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record on three occasions.

3 Gain Board Appointments

Clarence A. Hawkins Sr. and Karabelle A.L. Pizzigati have been appointed by Governor Parris N. Glendening to four-year terms on the Maryland State Board of Education and Lauren McAlee has been appointed to a one-year term as the Board’s voting student representative.

The new members will take their seats on July 1. George Fisher completed his second full term and could not be re-appointed. Judith McHale completed her one term on the Board and did not seek re-appointment. Current student member Aaron Merki is a senior at McDonough High School in Waldorf.

Hawkins, a former teacher, was a school administrator in Kent County for 21 years. He is a retired pastor and former president of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. He has served on the Kent and Queen Anne’s Foster Care Review Board and has been chairman of the Kent chapter of the American Red Cross.

Pizzigati has a doctorate in child development and family studies. She is a policy and leadership development consultant to agencies that provide services for children and families. She formerly was director of public policy for the Child Welfare League of America.

McAlee is currently a junior at South River High in Anne Arundel County. She has been active in the Maryland Association of Student Councils.

Dr. Grasmick, MBRT Get Awards

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education (NASDCTE) honored State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education at a May 1 program on Capitol Hill recognizing superior accomplishments in career and technology education.

Sixteen awards were presented, with other honorees including University of Maryland professor and Department of Technology Chair Leon Copeland and Black & Decker, Inc./Harford Technical High School.

Dr. Grasmick was presented with the NASDCTE Distinguished Service Award. Under her leadership, enrollments in career and technology education have grown each year since 1992.

MBRT, a coalition of 120 employers that has made a long-term commitment to education reform, was given an Outstanding Business Partnership Award. Since its establishment in 1992, the MBRT has been the state’s strongest advocate for school reform.

New Title I Rules Could Provide Transfer Options
At 114 Maryland Schools

Part of a new federal appropriation of Title I funds to states includes a provision that will give students in 114 Maryland schools identified as low performing the option to request transfers to other public schools in their jurisdictions.

The accountability provision was designed to inspire states to address low-performing Title I schools. Some states have been slow to address the issue. However, Maryland has been a national leader in identifying low-performing schools as part of its decade-long school reform efforts that include local reconstitution (probationary status) and state reconstitution (the state taking control of a low-performing school). To date, the state has placed four Baltimore City schools under state reconstitution and 102 other schools are on the local reconstitution list. Still, the new legislation requires Maryland to adhere to the federal Title I definition of low-performing schools as part of funding to help high-poverty students.

The new appropriation will be an increase of $3.3 million in Title I funds that go directly to Maryland schools. These funds are in addition to the $119.5 million in Title I funds Maryland schools will receive in the upcoming school year. The new transfer provisions affect schools in 15 of Maryland’s 24 local school systems.

The new provisions cover all local school systems with one or more Title I schools identified as needing improvement (in Maryland, schools that have had declining scores for two consecutive years on Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests) or already under corrective action (in Maryland, under local or state reconstitution). Students in those schools would have the option to transfer to other public schools.

To meet these new provisions, the 15 local school systems (as part of their 2001-02 School Accountability for Excellence plan updates) will provide a description of how they will implement these new provisions.

Transfers to a school can be denied if the school a student has selected is already overcrowded.

The 2000 General Assembly:

Significant Education Legislation

The following bills affecting education were among those passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2000 legislative session:

Educational Opportunity Summer Program (HB 53)—Authorizes a county board of education to develop a proposal for an educational curriculum and activities during the summer. This program will apply this summer to Baltimore and Prince George’s counties.

Education Finance, Equity and Excellence Act of 2001 (SB 719)—Continues $252.6 million in mandated state aid to local school systems that would have terminated after FY 2002. Includes funding provisions for special education, academic intervention, teacher mentoring, Judith P Hoyer Early Child Care programs, early education initiatives and locally-reconstituted schools. Extends Teacher Salary Challenge to FY2003 (originally was a two-year program).

Repeal of Law Prohibiting Possession of Portable Pagers on School Property (HB 67)—Repeals prohibition against the possession of portable pagers on public school property. States local education agencies should work with MSDE to develop local policies regarding use of pagers and cellular phones on public school property during school hours.

Adult Education (HB 775/SB 399)—Establishes task force that will study services including basic skills instruction, English as a second language, GED instruction and family literacy instruction.

Alternative Education Pilot Program (HB 825)—Establishes juvenile justice alternative education pilot program for suspended and expelled students in a county designated by the State Superintendent of Schools.

Adult External High School Program (SB 41)—Extends termination date for the Maryland Adult External High School Program to June 30, 2006.

Extension of Schools for Success (SB 64)—Extends termination date of challenge grant program to June 30, 2007.

Firearms Safety and Accident Prevention Education Program (SB 124/HB 791)—Creates mandatory gun safety education program in public schools. Requires MSDE to establish guidelines for the program and each county board to develop a specified curriculum.

Re-employment of Retirees (SB 221)—Exempts certain retired employees of school systems from earning caps limitations of their retirement system if they are rehired by a school system.

MSDE Bulletin
School & Community Outreach Office
Maryland State Department of Education
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Web site:

Ronald Peiffer Assistant State Superintendent

Neil Greenberger Editor