Thursday, July 9, 2020
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School ‘policy’ vs. a teacher’s opinion

Freelance writer AJ Campbell writes in The Takoma Park-Silver Spring Voice, a news site blog in Montgomery County, Md., “When dealing with Montgomery County School Board staff, it can be challenging sometimes to understand the difference between a teacher’s opinion and the school’s opinion and actual Board of Education written policy.”

She says anything the school system considers policy would be in writing and avaiable, usually through some sort of document control number, via the school system’s website. These aren’t hard to find, and on occasion—maybe most occasions—you’ll find there’s no actual policy in place at all.

Don’t be afraid to politely ask for a copy of the policy that the school staff is referring to. They may not know the number off the top of their heads but should be able to point you to a MCPS department office in Rockville, Md., who will know it. Or you can look it up yourself.

When I asked them for a copy of the policy, they immediately back-pedaled, saying it wasn’t policy but their experience that it was better for the kids. They refused to speak to me further on the mater and referred me to someone at their office who told me flat out that there was not a POLICY per se but it was based on their experience that it is not recommended.

That’s interesting. It’s so important today that school officials remain open to feedback from parents, including those advocating for their own kids. They know them far better than schools or teachers ever will, and for school officials to hide behind what they call “policy,” if that’s what’s going on in Montgomery County, is disgraceful.

One commenter suggests, though, that it’s exactly what’s been going on: “It has been common practice for over a decade for MCPS staff to use the word ‘policy’ to shut down parent advocacy. Yes, always ask to SEE the policy. Nine times out of 10 it does not exist.”

While we don’t believe parents run schools or should run them, we also support school officials keeping an open mind and listening to what parents have to say about how their sons and daughters are being educated. Who knows? This might even lead to volunteerism in schools, which I think would be welcomed by teachers.

Has this situation ever happened to you? What were your thoughts when you discovered what school officials or your child’s teacher had been calling “policy” was in fact nothing more than what a teacher thought was a “best practice”?

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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  1. Mr Katula,

    Thanks for the link, but please note that the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Voice is not a blog, but a legitimate news-publication. The Voice has been publishing local news since 1987.

    I’m glad to see A.J. Campbell’s piece has received so much attention. It’s a noteworthy article.

    Bill Brown, Managing Editor
    Takoma Park/Silver Spring Voice

    [Bill: Thanks for your comment. I’ve corrected the article. -Paul]

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