Daily Journal, March 9

Friday morning I was a guest reader at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This is a Maryland Blue Ribbon school and hopefully will be a national award winner soon, with something in the range of 98% of the kids passing the MSAs, according to the principal. What an amazing achievement. The first grade kids were a lot fun! We really engaged in the story of Abraham Lincoln, as I read from a book that is one of my son Henry’s favorites.

I got a chance to speak with Gary Bartee of the Montgomery County Association of Administrators and Principals. One of his big focuses is the peer review system, which is Montgomery County’s innovative way of improving accountability for teachers by providing support and training to teachers who are not performing. I was happy to see a Washington Post article about this system the next day; it is an approach that deserves more recognition nationally. It is also worth noting that a few years ago MCPS refused Federal Race to the Top money due to a dispute over how to do teacher evaluations. The Federal requirements would have forced the county to redesign our own carefully constructed evaluation and support system. It was a good decision by Jerry Weast to opt-out.

Meanwhile I am continuing to work on Wheaton redevelopment, as we prepare for some important council decisions. On Friday afternoon I met with the Coalition for the Fair Redevelopment of Wheaton. We walked around Triangle Lane and spent some time talking with Mr. Leo, proprietor of Marchones. I’m looking for an approach in Wheaton that will support our local small businesses, not replace them.