The following letter was sent today [Friday, June 6] to "The Washington Post" by Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. It is the superintendent's intent to publicly congratulate teachers and principals on the continuing success of students in the Montgomery County Public Schools.
June 6, 2003
Letters to the Editor or Close to Home
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20071
Classroom teachers and principals deserve the credit for the continued and recent success of the Montgomery County Public Schools. They embraced and implemented the new ideas that have rapidly improved our instructional program. As superintendent, the spotlight is often on me (“Mr. Weast's Scores,” June 5, 2003), but the limelight should be placed on the women and men who teach in our classrooms and lead our schools.
Our reforms would not have succeeded without them, nor without the support of the Board of Education, the County Executive and County Council, parents, and community leaders. But, it was the work of kindergarten teachers and elementary school principals that helped identify the insufficient academic preparation of impoverished children entering school from government funded preschool programs. It was the work of principals and teachers, particularly those in second grade, that was responsible for recent gains by African American students, Hispanic students, poor students, special education students, and those learning English as a second language. Indeed, more children are taking advanced courses in middle school and high school now because their teachers and principals are expecting higher standards of achievement.
All of this has happened during a period of great change and turbulence since 1999. In fact, we are ending one of our most difficult years, considering the trauma of the sniper incidents and the disruption of the snowstorms. Yet, student achievement continues to improve. More schools are being recognized for academic performance than ever before. More teachers and principals are engaged in extensive personal and collaborative study about emerging research and best practices. More people are tackling hard issues about poverty, language, and immigration as our county undergoes a rapid transformation toward becoming one of the largest and most culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse communities in America.
In fact, teachers and principals have emerged as some of the more ardent advocates for continued educational reform in Montgomery County. They have taken ownership of identifying problems early, finding solutions quickly, and working passionately with their communities, their elected officials, and their parents and students. I have a great deal of pride in being able to work with them, and I have even greater confidence in their commitment to the tough job ahead.
We face many challenges, and we are far from having resolved or even identified all of our problems. However, Montgomery County is very fortunate to have teachers and principals who understand that building a great school system begins in the classroom.
Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Montgomery County Public Schools