100 signatures reached
To: Baltimore County Executive, John A. Olszewski, Jr., and Baltimore County Councilmen Pat Young, Izzy Patoka, Wade Kach, Julian E. Jones, Jr., David Marks, Mike Ertel, and Todd Crandell
Restore Gifted and Talented Education Resource Teacher Positions in BCPS FY2024 Budget
We are asking the Baltimore County Executive and the Baltimore County Council to restore three gifted and talented education resource teacher FTE positions that were cut from the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Operating Budget back to the BCPS Office of Advanced Academics (OAA).
Why is this important?
The OAA is responsible for serving gifted and talented students, including twice-exceptional (2E) or gifted students with learning or developmental disabilities, and maintaining BCPS compliance with state and local laws. In the 2022-2023 academic year, the OAA has four resource teachers, one coordinator, and one administrative assistant. Together, they serve around 30,000 BCPS students who formally take Gifted and Talented (GT), Advanced Placement (AP), and other advanced academics programs in grades 4 to 12, in Mathematics, English Languages Arts, World Languages, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, and other subject areas. Back in 2019, the OAA had eight resource teachers but, in 2020, BCPS Superintendent Dr. Williams proposed to reduce the OAA resource teachers to one. Thanks to our advocacy and the Board of Education members’ support at the time, the OAA retained four resource teachers. For FY 2024, Superintendent Dr. Williams proposed to cut the OAA to one resource teacher, again. Unfortunately, on February 28, 2023, after an unsuccessful attempt by some of the BCPS Board of Education (BOE) members to restore the cut resource teacher positions, the BCPS BOE approved the Superintendent’s budget proposal.
We are asking the Baltimore County Executive and the Baltimore County Council to restore the three resource teacher FTEs cut from the BCPS Office of Advanced Academics (OAA) in FY 2024 Operating Budget for the following reasons:
1. The OAA resource teachers are a critical central BCPS resource because they have years of specialized training and experience in identifying and serving gifted and talented students, some of whom have learning or developmental disabilities. They help nurture the potential of these advanced and high-potential learners by providing professional development to GT school facilitators, teachers, and school administrators, so individual schools can correctly identify the GT and 2E learners and provide adequately differentiated instruction.
2. Without maintaining at least four knowledgeable and experienced OAA resource teachers, BCPS will not be able to maintain compliance with state and local laws. Code of MD Regulations, COMAR Chapter 13A.04.07, requires that all MD schools identify and serve gifted and talented students. BCPS also recognizes that GT students “require appropriately differentiated programs and services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program,” as described in BCPS Policy and Rule 6401. It is completely unrealistic to think that one resource teacher will be able to support 178 BCPS schools that serve over 111,000 elementary, middle, and high-school students.
3. Cutting three out of four OAA resource teacher positions presents an equity issue for BCPS. Data shows that students of color, 2E and English language learners, and those from challenging economic circumstances are under-represented in gifted and talented programs. Without adequate staffing, the OAA will not be able to offer regular training to school teachers, facilitators, and administrators, so these under-represented students will become even more marginalized in GT programs and services.
4. The OAA resource teachers help develop specialized curricula for GT programs in BCPS. Their curriculum development role is more important today than ever because BCPS recently moved to new “canned”/commercial curriculum packages that do not have appropriately differentiated lesson plans for GT and 2E students. For example, Bridges is now used in Math at the elementary school level and Illustrative Math in middle schools. The OAA, in collaboration with curricular offices, put together a temporary plan, based on a curriculum compacting approach, for FY 2023 and was planning to develop differentiated lessons over time to address the lack of GT curriculum in these programs, as well as better prepare students moving from elementary to middle school GT Mathematics. Without the OAA resource teachers, however, these lesson plans will never get developed.
5. Cutting three out of four OAA resource teachers in FY 2024 budget would lead to a tremendous loss of human capital to BCPS that took years to accumulate earlier. Even if these teachers are reallocated to individual schools, their specialized knowledge and expertise will no longer carry a system-wide/multiplier impact.
6. In the long-run, this short-term/FY 2024 decision to cut the OAA resource teachers will have long-lasting negative implications on the quality of BCPS GT education and will deprive our GT and 2E learners of their rights to receive “the gifted and talented education programs and services needed to develop these students’ full potential” (COMAR Chapter 13A.04.07).