Recap: Dallas Dance addresses pressing issues in county schools at Newsmaker's Forum

New schools chief's first three weeks on the job have been marked by major school safety challenges

September 12, 2012|Erica L. Green

Updated: The Baltimore Sun will soon publish the entire hour of the recent Newsmaker's Forum featuring County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance, but for now, those interested can read the recap of Tweets where Dance sounds off on everything from cyber-bullying to his thoughts on gifted and talented here. 

Among the highlights are:

  • On School Safety: Dance addresses school safety--which he's had to confront since the first day of school in a video here.
  • On class-size: Dance said that the school system will go back and review its staffing formulas, which he said will help decrease everything from student-teacher to guidance counselor-student ratios.
  • The county school system will be conducting a comprehensive audit of special education services, which Dance said has for too long been focused on compliance rather than academic achievement for the population--which significantly lags behind their general education peers.
  • Mays Chapel, he said, is a decision he will not second-guess because the decision was made prior to his arrival. Dance said school facilities is one of two of his top priorities this year, he said. Right now the district grapples with severe overcrowding and dilapidated facilities which today, would costs $1.7 billion to upgrade.
  • The other priority, he said, was curriculum. He said he's not interested in watering down AP courses, but doesn't believe they should be a panacea either. As the county, along with the rest of the state, transitions to the Common Core standards--a more rigorous curriculum adopted nationally that will substantially raise rigor--he said the difference in the classroom will be "obvious." The way to make it successful, he said, is to ensure that there is support for teachers and a "reasonable" transition. 
  • On teacher evaluations--one of the sources of the recent Chicago Teachers Union strike--Dance said he believes they have to be tied to student performance, but a tool to support, not penalize.

Original Post: Tuesday, Sept. 11

Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance--whose first three weeks of leading the school system were marked with two gun incidents including the shooting of a special needs student--will be the guest interviewee in the next installment of the The Baltimore Sun's Newmaker's Forum.

The forum will be held Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the county's Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson. 

Dance has made headlines since the 31-year-old was tapped to take the helm of one of the 26th largest school district in the nation in July, and burst onto the scene with an all-star transition team, much to prove, and a plan to boost confidence, transparency, and teamwork to take the traditionally high performing school system, he said, from good to great.

And in his first two weeks, the schools chief met challenges that not even veteran superintendents have to confront in all their years on the job. Hear more about those, and other challenges and priorities from Dance on Thursday during a townhall meeting moderated by Sun opinion editor Andrew A. Green.

Parents, students, teachers and other members of the community will get a chance to ask questions.

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