TESTIMONY OF THE  MONTGOMERY COUNTY COUNCIL OF  PTAs

Presented at the Public Hearing on FY  2007 Operating Budget Priorities 
Before the County Council by Cindy Kerr, President
September 13,  2005


Good Evening Mr. Perez and  members of the County Council. I am Cindy Kerr,
President of the  Montgomery  County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA). On  behalf of
the 54,000 members of MCCPTA, I thank you for the opportunity to share  our
budget priorities. MCCPTA strives to give voice to the needs of all children 
attending Montgomery County Public Schools.  Without question, our highest budget 
priority is education.   We  applaud the Council’s efforts over the past
years to fund education  generously.  Tonight we are here to  focus on what more
is needed.
I have attached for your review,  a copy of MCCPTA’s 2004 Advocacy Priorities
as well as our FY 2006 Operating  Budget Compact. These documents outline in
great detail the budget priorities  determined by our delegates last year.  In
the time allotted, allow me to highlight but a few:
·        Dollars should  follow student need.  We must  identify all students
who are not reading by grade three; who are not passing  algebra by grade
nine; who are not reaching their educational potential and —no  matter where they
live—provide them with targeted resources and support.  
·        Extensive research has  documented what we all understand
intuitively, that student success depends upon  parent involvement.  We must direct  our
dollars to reach those parents for whom barriers of language, culture; 
access; and illiteracy stand in the way of full participation in their child’s 
education.  Your own legislative  Oversight Committee’s report points the
direction dollars should flow.  Investing in bi-lingual parent community 
coordinators is imperative.
·        Last year MCCPTA  delegates passed a resolution decrying the
tremendous gap in achievement between  African American and Hispanic students and
their white peers within special  education. Data produced by the State of
Maryland in response to No Child Left  Behind reveals that fewer than 1 in 10
African American and Hispanic students  with disabilities passed all the High School
Assessments in 2003-04 whereas  white students with disabilities performed
significantly better on the same High  School Assessments despite the fact that
each student, regardless of race, has  an individualized education plan.
Allocation of resources to meaningfully  address this unacceptable gap is one of
our budget priorities.
·        As we increase  expectations and rigor in our middle and high
schools we will also need to  ensure a certified teacher in every classroom. As we
encourage and support all  students to reach and to begin taking high school
courses in middle school such  as algebra in 8th grade; we must be ready to pay
for teachers  certified in these subjects. Similarly, as we support more
students in Advanced  Placement courses, we must pay for the training and resources
to support our  teachers. At MCCPTA, we have reports that our AP courses are
"busting at the  seams" while this is wonderful - we cannot expect teachers to
meet the needs of  all  AP students – some of whom may  not have had an
adequately rigorous foundation--  without ensuring that the academic  supports and
resources will be forthcoming to ensure every student’s  success.
·         MCCPTA has and continues to prioritize  the need for safe, clean,
healthy and modern school buildings for our  children.  The FY2006 budget 
recognized the critical need for infrastructure maintenance – maintenance of our 
schools is imperative to the health and safety of children as we await the 
implementation of a painfully slow modernization schedule. We urge you to make 
it a budget priority to eliminate mold from our schools; to provide every
child  with a clean functioning bathroom in their school house and a building that
supports learning.
·        We also urge funding to  provide enough permanent classrooms  and
plan realistically for the future classrooms needed to accommodate the  students
presently enrolled in our schools.  Before approving new homes and 
increasing our student body, let's make sure we have the infrastructure to  provide
incoming students all of the resources that they need to be successful  including
bricks and mortar, adequate teachers and appropriate educational  supports. 
·        MCCPTA has long  been an advocate for greater accountability in all
aspects of MCPS  operations—including oversight of the programs that we run
through short term  grants.  We support efforts to  identify and promote
successful programs as well as efforts to identify and  eliminate programs which are
not producing the desired results. There is an  administrative cost to
providing this oversight, but it can have a great long  term payback both financially
and for our children.  
·        Finally, MCCPTA adds  its voice to the chorus of concern regarding
the cancer of gang violence that  threatens the well being of our school
children.  As Latino Youth voices spoke out before  in the last weeks, they called
for an increase in after school programs and in  the number of bilingual
counselors as a lifeline to safety and an alternative to  the lure of gangs. MCCPTA
embraces these as urgent budget priorities as  well.  The high rate of
academic  ineligibility among student populations most vulnerable to gang recruitment
also  requires our immediate attention—we must re-examine the policies which
bar the  most vulnerable from meaningful participation in extracurricular
activities with  access to role models and mentors and we must fund the programs
that can link  the students to positive alternatives.

Thank you for beginning  this crucial dialogue. MCCPTA, as always, stands
ready to work side by side with  the Council to serve the best interests of all
our  students.