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Renew the contract of MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr

This petition had 596 supporters

We, the undersigned residents of Montgomery County, strongly urge the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education to renew the contract of Superintendent Joshua Starr. As Dr. Starr’s January 22 letter to the BOE documents, under his leadership, MCPS has continued to boost overall student achievement while also narrowing key achievement gaps in test scores, participation in and passage of Advanced Placement classes and exams, and graduation rates. Recent reports that several members of the Board plan to vote against his renewal have caught us by surprise and sparked serious concern. At a time when state commitment to our schools is in flux, stability and continuity under a proven champion is especially critical, and we urge the Board not to take this dangerous step.

Dr. Starr has been a strong voice for ensuring that all of our children enjoy the enriching educational experiences that prepare them for success in school, post-secondary education, and participation as full citizens in our community and in the world. In contrast to the narrowing of curricula seen in other school districts across the country, MCPS students benefit from continued investment in arts, music, physical education, civics, and other key components of a 21st century education. Dr. Starr’s emphasis on both Creative Problem Solving and Social Emotional Learning as core competencies have been key to ensuring this broad set of student experiences. For these reasons, he continues to enjoy very strong support from teachers – who are both critical voices in this discussion and key to ensuring our children’s success.

Like school districts across the country, MCPS is struggling to address the challenges brought by sharp increases in student poverty, and in the number of students who are immigrants and English Language Learners. Dr. Starr continues to advance important reforms that evidence documents can alleviate the effects, such as universal access to breakfast in high-poverty schools and strong support for a reform initiated under his predecessor, Jerry Weast, to channel added funds for those schools to support teachers and a range of support staff and other resources. We are grateful for these indicators of his commitment to closing gaps and eager to work with Dr. Starr to identify other strategies to enhance them.

There is no question that we have room to improve. We share Montgomery County Council Education Chair Craig Rice's and Education Committee Member Marc Elrich’s desire to further narrow achievement gaps. We feel strongly, however, that Dr. Starr’s commitment to equity is strong, that his vision for the district is the right one, and that choosing to replace him at this point would be more likely to set our schools back than to build the momentum that they currently enjoy to move forward. We strongly urge the BOE to consider the caveats issued by Members Rice and Elrich, and by State Senator Rich Madaleno, not to jeopardize the continued success of one of the nation’s most diverse and highest-achieving school districts.

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