Four Reasons to Vote for Susan Byrne

I will bust the #1 Myth of Education

Standards are not sufficient to assess learning.  Students learn best when they are engaged, attend their school of choice, are valued for their uniqueness, have opportunity to socialize and adults who collaborate with them for success.  I will work with Superintendent Starr to put the focus back on learning.  "Trust the learning process and the learners and the scores will come."

I will focus on student benefits, not budget battles.

I will provide tough leadership to keep the BOE focused on providing educational benefit to our diverse student population.  Schools around the world provide better quality education for less. It takes leadership, not more money, to give our kids the schools they deserve.

I will deliver cost-effective programs.

I will objectively evaluate the cost and benefit of educational programs.  I will restructure the budget to report funds directly necessary to support students and identify inefficient spending.

I will provide the schools our kids deserve.

I will focus on quality education that taps the multiple intelligences, multiple talents, innovation, collaboration, and interdependence of our student body, not on gains in scores.

Susan's Vision

Every MCPS school following these best practices:
·         A developmental, whole-child approach to education
·         Multidisciplinary teams who advocate for and track the success of each student
·         Respectful and honorable collaboration with students and their families
·         Teachers who know how each of their students learns best and who are proficient in gifted, multicultural, and special education
·         Multiple modes of learning to support the success of all students
·         Educational practices that foster peer learning and mentor relationships
·         Curriculum that disciplines thinking, promotes creative problem solving, and offers engaging, active learning and movement
·         Technology to afford every student a custom learning experience
·         Positive social, emotional, and behavioral support integrated throughout the program

MCPS has articulated a philosophy of pursuing excellence for all students; the challenge is to put that successfully into practice.  I would work to greatly improve partnership with  MCPS families and local industries.  I will set academics standards that include multimodal delivery, experience-enriched learning, multi-age classrooms and looping up for teachers at elementary levels, student-led programming in higher levels, integrated social and behavioral support, academic acceleration and mentoring programs for gifted, and better opportunities for movement and enrichment.  I will hold all BOE policies and MCPS practices against the standard of educational best practice.  We can benefit from the lessons learned through decades of experience with effective educational programming for the individualized needs of special student populations, including gifted, ELL, and learning disabled.  I will put those lessons put into practice throughout MCPS for the benefit of all students by application to improve both regular programming and special programming.

World Class Education and MCPS

MCPS is among the top schools in the United States, and is exemplary of the U.S. model of education.   Worldwide, U.S. education has performed poorly, spending extravagant amounts for diminishing returns and losing ground against other countries for more than 25 years.  It isn’t that we don’t know how to do it better.  OR that we need more money to do it better.  MCPS has too many schools that get education wrong.

The MCPS reputation as a world class school rests on gains in standardized test scores and graduation rates.  By those same measures, MCPS has failed to meet the educational needs of most of our students:  those who are black, Hispanic, English Language Learners, FARMS eligible, GT/LD…  it amounts to more than 2/3 of our students.  These students don’t have a problem learning, they simply don’t thrive in the MCPS model of success.   Dr. Starr has bluntly stated “We don’t have a student learning problem, we have an adult learning problem”.  We must change the model to support our childrens’ natural love of learning for the sake and the fun of learning instead of our adult agenda of “winning the top score”.

And those improvements in graduation rates?  Of the 2007 class of graduates who went on to college, 42% required remedial math.  Such anomalies evident in the record bring into question the quality of MCPS educational programming and indicate that more of the same won’t work.  MCPS does have some great schools, and a fabulous PR department (which is of value), but the big picture at MCPS is clearly that we need to focus on learning approaches that serve our students, not on earning scores that serve our reputation. 

We Must Fit Programs to Students

The challenge is “to do whatever it takes” to ensure the success of every child and to challenge every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, or ability.  We can improve services to special populations through better identification, earlier intervention, and more uniform delivery of quality services.  We can achieve significant improvement in regular education and do this by means that will better serve all populations.  This does not mean uniform programming for all students.  There is no educational approach that can flatten the bell curve.  We must fit programs to students, not students to programs. 

Carefully Choose Your Board Members

Our current BOE has experience with legislation and knowledge of MCPS history and operations.  I will bring my organizational and analytical expertise to partner with them in a candid self-assessment of our performance against educational best practice.  As a successful project manager, I will partner with them to deliver the greatest return on investment of both time and money for the benefit of our students.  As an experienced educational advocate, I will partner with them to ensure that every decision serves all our students, not just some, not the system, and not any diversionary agendas.

Dr. Starr’s leadership holds great promise.  He is focused on the learning process rather than scores, on the value of emotional and social learning, and on targeting the adult learning problem that is blocking improvements in student learning.   With your vote, I will ensure that the BOE builds on his community collaboration and gives every child their wish:  to learn.

The top criteria for a BOE member is the ability to articulate the community vision and how to move that vision from philosophy into practice to effectively reach and teach each student. A fresh viewpoint and knowledge of best practices in education is required to envision the next era for Montgomery County Public Schools. Building a school system for the future requires someone who understands this new era, has seen alternative approaches to teaching, and is familiar with the latest research on how to address not just mainstream but also gifted and special-needs students.

Transparency and collaboration with community members is essential as is the ability to negotiate and educate through civil debate with all vested parties. Collaborative teamwork is critical to transform our current struggles to a supportive partnership that will empower us to achieve our common vision
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About Susan

I am running for BOE because I want to focus the community conversation on quality education rather than budget battles and political squabbles.  MCPS has been locked in these battles for years while schools around the world and in our own state deliver better quality education for far less per capita. 

MCPS needs leadership, not more money.

A parent of 2 MCPS students, one in middle school, one in elementary, I have a long history as a community activist, 12 years in education serving on boards, site councils, PTA, and in the classroom as a teacher's aide and tutor.

I have 30 years of success as an organizational and systems analyst with organizations such as Westinghouse, Kaiser Permanente, Del Monte, Genentech, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the National Science Foundation.  I have successfully bailed out crisis projects when others have failed and I have consistently earned high commendations from clients with complex multi-region projects.

For more about my professional history and expertise, see my Curriculum Vitae.

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  • Mar 29 Rockville Community Coalition Candidate Forum
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