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February 27, 2009
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State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

A few words from State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick

Maryland education lost an incredible leader this week. JoAnne Carter, Deputy State Superintendent for Instruction and Academic Acceleration, lost her courageous battle with cancer. So much of this department’s success with low-performing schools can be traced to JoAnne’s tireless dedication to the children in those classrooms and the teachers who work with them.

JoAnne L. Carter

JoAnne L. Carter

JoAnne had a tremendous impact on student success throughout our state. A former early childhood educator, her goal was to make certain every child who entered a Maryland school would leave it prepared to meet the challenges that lay ahead. Her compassion, steadfast work ethic, and innovative thinking will be greatly missed by MSDE in general, and by me in particular. Our schools are the envy of the nation thanks to the work of JoAnne and educators like her.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that contributions be made to: The JoAnne L. Carter Memorial Scholarship Fund. Checks should be made out to the fund and mailed to 3222 Dorithan Rd, Baltimore MD 21215; ATTN: JLC Fund.

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Willard Hackerman

Willard Hackerman

Willard Hackerman, president and CEO of Whiting Turner Construction, has long been one of Maryland’s most generous philanthropists. Among his many wonderful programs is the Willard Hackerman Reading Project, which gives the opportunity for teachers at 15 schools in four Maryland school systems to provide rich literacy experiences for their students.

The project funds text purchases in a variety of literary styles to allow teachers to read aloud to their students. The idea for this wonderful program came straight from Mr. Hackerman’s childhood, when a junior high school teacher sparked his imagination by reading from books she’d bring before the class. Now students at four Baltimore City middle schools, eight Baltimore County middle schools, a Caroline County middle school, and two Howard County schools have the same opportunity.

Mr. Hackerman, a graduate of Baltimore City’s Polytechnic Institute, continues to give back to our community and its schools. He deserves our great appreciation.

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Another piece of exciting news for Maryland was unveiled this week: The International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) is moving its new center for the Americas to our state in 2010. The center will be located in Montgomery County.

More than two dozen Maryland schools from across the state take part in the IB program., along with nearly 2,500 other schools in 131 other countries.  These schools deliver the challenging programs to nearly 700,000 students.  The IB program encourages students to be active, well-rounded learners and engaged world citizens.

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For a video report on this month's board meeting, click here.


March 2 — Read Across America Day

March 4 — Governor’s Town Hall Meeting on Education and the Economy, Baltimore City, Frederick Douglass Senior High School

March 24-25 — State Board Meeting

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Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley came before the State Board of Education this week to congratulate the state’s educators on their record of success.  He also laid out a seven-part plan to build on those accomplishments.

Governor O’Malley responds to a question from State Board member Richard Goodall.

Governor O’Malley responds to a question from State Board member Richard Goodall.

Maryland’s public schools have received two number one rankings already this year, the first from Education Week for the nation’s top education system, the second from the College Board for the top performance in the Advanced Placement Program.  The Governor thanked State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick, the State Board, and MSDE, for the policies and assistance to systems that have paved the way for this record of success.

“None of these accomplishments happen by accident,” the Governor said. “They happen because of the hard work of our students, teachers and principals; they happen because of the loving and active support of parents in every part of our State.”

The Governor said that the state must continue its progress, and outlined several initiatives that he believes will help maintain the state’s upward trajectory in education.  For example Maryland should:

  • Take advantage of the many competitive grants being offered by the federal government through President Obama’s economic stimulus program, such as $5 billion in Education Incentive Grants, and $200 million in incentives for teachers. 
  • Benchmark student achievement against that of students from around the globe.
  • Develop a single longitudinal data system that follows students from kindergarten through college.
  • Strengthen college readiness for high school graduates.
  • Improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, and include more financial literacy and environmental education in the curriculum.
  • Grow Career and Technology Education (CTE). 
  • Continue to improve principal and teacher recruitment and retention.

Many of the Governor’s ideas dovetail with ongoing programs at MSDE, including plans to strengthen the data system, the HSA initiative to strengthen the high school diploma, the STEM grants program, and continued efforts to improve CTE.


The Maryland State Board of Education this week approved a model policy targeting the growing problems associated with bullying.  Maryland’s Model Anti-Bullying, Harassment, and Intimidation Policy sets a statewide definition of bullying behavior, and requires school systems to submit copies of their anti-bullying policies to the State Superintendent for review. 

The new policy prohibits bullying, harassment, or intimidation of any person on school property or at school-sponsored functions, or by the use of electronic technology at a public school.  Reprisals against individuals reporting bullying also are prohibited.

“Bullying has existed for a long time, but that does not make it right or something we as educators should ignore,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.  “Today’s bullies come in many forms, including those who use electronic means.  The brighter the spotlight on this unacceptable behavior, the better chance we have to eliminate it from the school yard and the Internet.”

The policy defines bullying, harassment, or intimidation as any intentional conduct, including verbal, physical, or written conduct or an intentional electronic communication that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, or with a student’s physical or psychological well-being and is:

  • Motivated by an actual or perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability; or
  • Threatening or seriously intimidating; and,
  • Occurs on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or,
  • Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school.

“Electronic communication” refers to a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including a telephone, cellular phone, computer, or pager.

The policy also sets forth ideas for preventing improper behavior and methods to intervene in bullying situations, noting the importance of professional development for educators.   It also suggests consequences for students who persist in bullying or harassment, providing a range depending upon the severity of the behavior and the age of the student.

The Maryland General Assembly last year directed the State Board, in consultation with local school system representatives, to develop and adopt a model policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation.  The new law followed the Safe Schools Reporting Act in 2005, which required the development of a form to be used by students, parents, and close family relatives to report bullying incidents.  That law also required local systems to record specific information from the forms to MSDE, which includes the data in an annual report to the Governor and the General Assembly.

Local school systems are now required to submit copies of their anti-bullying policies to the State Superintendent by July 1 for her review.

The complete policy can be found here.

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