WC’s Dam the Debt Project Provides $325K to Students to Reduce Education Loans

Washington College President Sheila Bair today announced that the Dam the Debt program will provide $325,581 to reduce the federal subsidized loan debt of 122 seniors who are graduating this May. The grants amount to a back-end scholarship that will award the seniors an average of $2,640, lowering their average federal student loan debt by nearly 10.3 percent.

“When we launched this program last year, it was something of an upstart in higher education, as no college had done this before,” President Bair says. “Now, thanks to our corporate and individual donors who understand the consequences of high student debt, we can continue sending our students into their careers and lives with one less loan to worry about. Hopefully this will enable them to save more, invest sooner, and have more freedom of choice as they move forward into the world.”

Washington College President Sheila Bair

he seniors who qualify for the program have taken out federally subsidized loans for the spring 2017 semester. Through Dam the Debt, those students will receive a grant from the College toward their financial aid package intended to replace the amount of those loans. As a result, the students will see, on average, a 10.27 percent reduction in their total federal loan burden before they even leave campus on graduation day. 

Since its inception in May 2016, the program to date has awarded a total of $659,000 to 252 eligible graduating seniors, with an average grant amount of $2,615.

Dam the Debt is one of several initiatives that President Bair has implemented since her inauguration in September 2015 to make college more affordable and accessible, and to tackle the problem of student loan debt. Funded entirely by donations, the program so far has raised $1.2 million. Among those who have donated to the program are BB&T, bloooom, inc., TD Bank, Santander Bank, Avant, John and Peggy Bacon, and Philip and Joan Riggin.

“We know that when students are burdened by debt, they delay buying homes, cars, and investing for their futures. This becomes a drag not only on them as individuals but on the economy as a whole,” President Bair says. “Anything we can do as an institution to break that cycle, we are working to do.”

In addition to Dam the Debt, the College has launched FixedFor4, which will fix tuition for four years for incoming freshmen, beginning with this fall’s incoming Class of 2021. Last year, the College also announced the Saver’s Scholarship, which will match the amount that families contribute from a 529 college savings plan or an Educational Savings Account, up to $2,500 per year, to pay for their student’s tuition. And through George’s Brigade, another donor-funded program, high-need, high-potential students can receive a full tuition scholarship, in addition to having all of their room and board covered, for four years.

In addition to these new programs, Washington College annually provides more than $23 million in grants and scholarships, with 90 percent of students receiving merit-based scholarships or need-based financial aid.

Learn more at http://www.washcoll.edu/value/ .

 

 

Lawmakers Override Hogan’s Protect Our Schools Act Veto

Maryland lawmakers voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would specify which measures could be considered when determining a school’s quality, prohibiting student testing from being one of them.

The bill restricts the state’s ability to intervene in failing schools, which opponents worry is intended to limit the creation of charter schools and voucher systems.

The House of Delegates passed the override of the governor’s veto 90-50, and the Senate passed it the same day, 32-15.

Hogan, a Republican, vetoed House Bill 978, known as the Protect Our Schools Act of 2017, Wednesday, saying the bill weakens school accountability, according to a release from the governor’s office. In the press release, Hogan urged legislators to put aside politics and sustain the veto.

The Maryland State Board of Education and the Maryland State Department of Education have sided with the governor in opposition to this bill, according to the release.

Thursday morning, advocates for the bill gathered at a rally to call for an override. Those present included representative from the Maryland State Education Association, the Maryland Parent Teacher Association and some lawmakers.

The bill would help accommodate the needs of the students and allow parents to be involved in the process, Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore, told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service. “We need to do more to end disparities (in education) … we cannot do that giving control to the state,” Washington said.

Bill Sponsor Delegate Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, acknowledged the common goal that both sides of the argument shared. “I’m glad we can agree every kid deserves a good education,” Luedtke said on the floor.

Although the State Board of Education opposes the bill, people who are involved in the everyday lives of children, like teachers and parents, support the bill, according to Luedtke.

Multiple delegates opposed to the bill referred to it as a “status quo” initiative on the floor, saying the bill will not bring any noticeable change that would benefit students.

Delegate Nicholaus Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, the House minority leader, said on the floor that this bill is not complicated.

“It traps students in failing schools and lessens accountability in the bureaucracy in education,” he said. Kipke made a point to say the legislation is regressive and takes tools away from the state.

Since both chambers voted to override the governor’s veto, the bill will become law July 1.

By Cara Newcomer

Talbot Chamber and Walmart Sponsor “Choices” Workshop for Eight Graders

Volunteers from Talbot County Chamber of Commerce member businesses, along with Talbot County Public Schools staff,presented the “CHOICES” program to 8th grade students in St. Michaels and Easton. “CHOICES” is an interactive, decision-making workshop that empowers teens to achieve academic success in pursuit of their career and life aspirations.

James Petrillo, Manager of Kohl’s and Robin Willey, Owner of Easton Rita’s conduct a session of the “CHOICES” workshop at Easton Middle.

During two 50-minute session, trained volunteers take students through real-world exercises on academic self-discipline, time and money management, and goal setting. Teens discover that they can take charge of their lives and increase their career and life opportunities by developing positive skills and habits for success as they look toward high school and beyond.

The “CHOICES” program is presented by the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce and Talbot County Public Schools through a grant from Wal Mart. The following volunteers conducted the session for the students:

Casey Baynard – Shore United Bank
James Petrillo – Kohl’s Store Manager
Karean (KC) Morris – 1880 Bank
Kelley Callaghan – Soul Candy Media
Kim Kastel – PNC Wealth Management
Robin Stricoff – Impacting Your People
Skip Case – Case Industrial Partners
Tom Callahan – TCPS
Vickie Wilson – TCPS
Jodi Richardson – The Peoples Bank
Robin Willey – Owner, Easton Rita’s
Lauren Harding – Bayleigh Chase Integrace

CBMM’s Rising Tide After-School Boatbuilding Program Expands

Due to an increase in attendance, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Rising Tide After-School Boatbuilding program is expanding from two to four days per week—Tuesday through Friday. Teaching middle school students in grades six to nine basic woodworking, boatbuilding, and related safety skills, the current session runs now through June.

“It’s inspiring to watch these young men and women develop skills and embrace learning in new, engaging ways as they progress through the program,” said CBMM Shipwright Educator Matthew Engel, who leads the program. “I’m so happy we’re able to expand this program to be able to reach more students.”

CBMM’s Rising Tide program began in November 2015 as a pilot initiative in collaboration with the YMCA of the Chesapeake. The program began with a six-week after-school boatbuilding session offered to Talbot County sixth-grade students. The ongoing sessions have limited participation, with the YMCA of the Chesapeake generously offering transportation to and from the program from its Easton location for YMCA and non-YMCA members.

To help with CBMM’s Rising Tide expansion, Lauren Gaunt has been hired in a new position as a Seip Family Foundation Rising Tide Program Apprentice. A former shipwright apprentice on CBMM’s 2016-2018 Edna Lockwood log-hull restoration project, Gaunt has taken the position after developing an interest in shipwright education. Her boatbuilding interests began while studying art at Michigan’s Kalamazoo College, and later as an intern at the San Diego Maritime Museum.

Running from March through early June, students in CBMM’s Rising Tide After-School Boatbuilding Program are offered the opportunity to apply all they learn on woodworking in the boatyard to build a boat under the guidance of CBMM’s shipwrights and volunteers. These classes include on-the-water sessions in boater safety and proper handling, along with learning navigational skills. The finished skiff will remain waterside at CBMM for the students to take out on the Miles River on subsequent visits.

In addition to the after-school program, CBMM also offers Rising Tide summer camp, a full-day, hands-on program for students entering grades six to nine, where campers create, explore, and have fun through Chesapeake Bay-focused activities. Each week includes woodworking and boatbuilding, on-the-water adventures, and ecological excursions. Summer camp sessions begin June 19-23; registration is required to risingtide@cbmm.org.

“We are very grateful for the growing philanthropic support necessary to fund this program, to help make a huge difference in the lives of our youth,” said CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “By expanding to four days per week, we can provide even more students with valuable support in mathematics, engineering, team building, and project management, not to mention their confidence as skills become mastered.”

CBMM’s Rising Tide program is made possible through the generous, lead support of the Wallace Genetic Foundation and Seip Family Foundation. Major support is also provided by Sandy and Bruce Hammonds, the Bryan Brothers Building Dreams for Youth Foundation, and the Dock Street Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by the Arthur H. Kudner Jr. Fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Penny and John Albertine, Martha and Alfred Sikes, Ellen and Richard Bodorff, and Wiley Rein LLP.

New students wishing to participate in the program are encouraged to contact risingtide@cbmm.org. For more information about CBMM’s Rising Tide program, visit bit.ly/CBMMRisingTide.

Mid-Shore Education: Chesapeake College’s Clay Railey

Given Clay Railey’s resume, including a doctorate in English from Vanderbilt, a long teaching career at Chesapeake College, and more recently, being provost of Bucks County Community College, it was not a total surprise that he was appointed vice president of academic affairs of the Wye Mills community college in 2016.

But perhaps missing in that background was another experience that could be seen as a real asset for the job of stewarding the college’s educational goals. And that was the not too trivial fact that Dr. Railey had been a Jesuit priest for twenty years before his move into public education. And while the order’s renowned reputation for scholarship and intellectualism may have little day to day impact on Chesapeake College, there can be very little doubt the Railey remains true to the Jesuit mission of “cura personalis,” which is Latin for “care for the whole person.”

From students moving forward with workforce career training to those on a traditional liberal arts academic track, Clay Railey is redesigning Chesapeake College’s approach with that “whole person” in mind.

In our first Spy interview with Clay, he talks about some of those redesign plans and programs that significantly expand Chesapeake College’s special mission of training the Mid-Shore adults for 21st Century jobs and opportunities.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College please go here

 

Mid-Shore Education: The Homeschooling Option with Denise Chapman-Toth

With serious debates going on about the quality of public education and expensive private education, it is easy sometimes to overlook the third option for parents and their children when it comes to elementary and secondary education. And that is the possibility of homeschooling.

At present, close to 700 families have selected this option rather than sending their children to various public and private schools on the Mid-Shore. That sparked our curiosity about what it takes to have a successful homeschool program and the kind of commitment it requires from one or both parents during the year, and that is why we were able to track down Denise Chapman-Toth, president of the Home Educators of the Eastern Shore, to talk about this rarely used but relatively successful alternative to mainstream education programs.

In our Spy interview, Denise talks about her own experience over the last sixteen years in homeschooling her children, as well as the satisfaction of having two of them move on to higher education and be on the honor roll. She also talks about the mechanics of starting a homeschool program for your children and the kind of typical day required for parent teachers.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Home Educators of the Eastern Shore please go here.

Lawmakers, Educators Push for Less Classroom-testing Time

Maryland is ranked as the second-worst state in the nation for teacher classroom autonomy, according to the Learning Policy Institute, and testing mandates are a major contributor to this ranking, according to the Maryland State Education Association.

Lawmakers and educators testified Wednesday before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee in favor of the Less Testing, More Learning Act — legislation sponsored by Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, that would limit standardized testing to 2 percent of class time, or about 21.6 hours for elementary and middle schools and 23.4 hours for high school each school year.

In 2015, The U.S. Department of Education recommended that a student spend no more than 2 percent of their time in class taking required statewide standardized assessments.

“About 21 hours testing or 2 percent of instructional time annually is more than enough time to make sure students are on track to be successful throughout the year,” Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association and a middle school teacher for Kent County Public Schools said during the hearing.

The bill also repeals statewide social studies assessments both on the middle school and high school levels.

As an alternative, starting during the 2017-2018 school year, each local board of education should design and administer their own social studies assessment as part of the local curriculum, according to the bill.

Manno testified during the hearing that the legislation will allow local committees to be able to determine their own social studies curricula.

About two-thirds of the state Senate — 31 members — are co-sponsors of the bill. The House of Delegates unanimously passed similar legislation last year, according to a Maryland State Education Association press release.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the average student took 249 total hours of standardized tests from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, according to a Maryland State Education Association analysis based on date from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Those hours do not include preparation, in-class tests, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams and, in a majority of cases, exams such as the ACT and the SAT are not included, according to the Maryland State Education Association.

Celia Burton, testing coordinator for Prince George’s County Public Schools, said at the hearing that since this past September students have had 71 different types of mandated tests.

In her school district, Burton said, some students are not allowed or able to attend Black History Month programs because of testing for student learning objectives that are used for teacher evaluations. They are being assessed for courses such as math, reading, science, physical education, health, foreign language and band.

“They are required to take one assessment per content area and the questions are more than 30 questions on each of the assessments,” Burton said.

Maryland Parent and Teacher Association President Elizabeth Ysla-Leight also supports the act and said she believes there are many benefits to cutting back on testing and spending more time on learning.

“As a stakeholder … for the Every Student Succeeds Act, we believe that the more active time students spend in the classroom — actually learning — benefits their achievement and … meeting their potential in schools,” Ysla-Leight said. “We believe the benefits is that they’re actually going to be learning as opposed to being assessed on what they already learned.”

Manno also said students being exposed to the arts and physical education in school helps them become well-balanced, and well-rounded to prepare for the future.

“The onerous non-stop grind towards these benchmarks — towards these federal, state benchmarks to prepare them for these tests and for them to perform on a dime during these tests are really getting to inhibit their ability to…be productive, wonderful, flourishing young people who I know we all want to continue to grow and to nurture,” Manno said during the hearing.

Manno emphasized that although the bill will limit testing time, he does support standardized testing.

“There’s a great need for benchmarks and preparation for critical subjects but we’ve, I think, begun to pile up in terms of these tests and as a result kids, who we all know need a rich, diverse, instructional experience and environment, have essentially become slaves to the test,” Manno said.

By Brianna Rhodes

Maryland Public Schools Drops to 5th in National Survey Ranking

-Maryland public schools fell to fifth place in Education Week’s national education rankings this year, due in part to achievement gaps between low and high-income students.

A Capital News Service analysis of state education data found the achievement gaps were especially pronounced in counties with the highest success rates.

Education Week ranked Maryland first from 2009 to 2013, until a criteria change in 2015 dropped it to third. The state fell to fourth in 2016 and fifth this year. Education Week did not rank states in 2014.

The achievement gap accounts for 7.3 percent of Education Week’s overall score — and the gap between rich and poor kids is larger in Maryland than most other states. About one-quarter of Maryland students who qualify for subsidized lunches passed the 2016 PARCC exam — the state’s standardized test for Algebra 1 and English 10 – compared with about 40 percent of all students, according to the state Dept. of Education.

In Education Week’s analysis, Maryland’s was 42nd out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the category that measures the achievement gap. It’s not unheard of for the highest achieving states to do poorly in that section. For example, Massachusetts – the top state in Education Week’s overall rankings – placed 34th in the achievement gap category.

In Maryland, the counties with the highest PARCC pass rates have some of the largest gaps between rich students and poor students. In those counties, low-income students are still passing the PARCC at higher rates than low-income students in other counties. But their wealthier peers are outscoring them by a much higher margin.

For example, in 2016 Carroll County had the state’s highest PARCC pass rate – 57.7 percent. But only 33.2 percent of poor students passed the tests – an achievement gap of 24.5 percent, the second highest in the state.

By AMANDA SMITH

Maryland Senator Mikulski and News Commentator Roberts at Washington College

Milkulski-web

Former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Two influential and iconic Washington women—former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and news commentator and political analyst Cokie Roberts—will kick off a new series at Washington College on Friday, March 3.The event launches a new series of programs commemorating the upcoming centennial of the amendment that gave American women the right to vote.

In “Climbing the Hill,” Roberts will lead a conversation with Mikulski about the changing roles and influence of women in public life over the course of her 40-year congressional career. John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times will introduce the speakers.

The free, public event, sponsored by the Harwood Lecture Series,is at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. It will be followed by a reception in the Underwood Lobby, and copies of Roberts’ books will be available for purchase and signing.

The Hon. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., served in the U.S. Congress longer than any other woman in American history. At her retirement in 2017, she had represented Maryland for 30 years in the Senate, preceded by 10 in the House of Representatives. The first woman to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, she began her career in public service as a member of the Baltimore City Council, and while she rose to the heights of power in Congress, she never neglected her Baltimore roots, a commitment that earned her enormous loyalty in her home state. Her legacy includes major achievements in women’s pay equity and healthcare, as well as in advancing political engagement for new generations of American women. In 2015 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She is now professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

Cokie-Roberts-web

News Commentator and Political Analyst Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, an acclaimed reporter and commentator for ABC News and National Public Radio, served as NPR’s congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, she has won three Emmys and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. American Women in Radio and Television named her one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. A prolific writer, she has written six New York Times bestsellers, several of them on women’s political lives in early America—We Are Our Mother’s Daughters, Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.Her children’s book Founding Mothers, illustrated by Caldecott award winner Diane Goode, was also a bestseller, and the children’s version of Ladies of Liberty, also illustrated by Goode, was published in December 2016.

The event, sponsored by the Harwood Series in American Journalism and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, leads off a new series at Washington College, the Women’s Centennial. The series looks ahead to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. Over the next four years, leading up to the 2020 anniversary itself, the Women’s Centennial will bring outstanding American women to campus, honoring and chronicling the achievements of women in leadership and public life from 1920 to the present day.

With its distinctive connection to the history of American freedom and its tradition of educating women and men as citizen leaders—and now under the leadership of its first female president, Sheila Bair—Washington College is uniquely suited to host the Women’s Centennial. The College has deep traditions of gender inclusivity: in 1783, it hired the first recorded female faculty member in American higher education, the art instructor Elizabeth Callister Peale. In May 1942, Washington College bestowed an honorary degree on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

About the Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism

The series was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. The Harwood series has featured David Axelrod, Susan Goldberg, Tom Wheeler, Howard Dean, Robert Novak, John McCain, James Carville, Judy Woodruff, Al Hunt, Mark Shields, and Paul Gigot, among others. The journalistic tradition has also continued in Harwood’s own family; his son, John Harwood, has had a distinguished career as a political correspondent and columnist for CNBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

About the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and with a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Profiles in Spirituality: WC Professor Joseph Prud’homme Connects Politics, Religion and Culture

For almost the entire length of his academic career, Joseph Prud’homme, Easton resident, Washington College professor, and founder of the school’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture, has investigated the extraordinary links that connect our country’s political life with its religious and cultural heritage. While he is the first to say that he is not a preacher nor a politician, but “just a professor,” he believes the time is right for his institute to move beyond the college classroom and enter into the much larger orbit of public discourse with outreach programs and lecture series designed to inform the Mid-Shore community of these multidisciplinary links.

In his first Spy interview, Joseph highlights how these three of these components interacts in our current state of affairs by using the example of the abolitionist movement in the early part of the 19th Century, where  politics, religion, and American culture were vividly seen as important and co-equal influences on how the United States saw the institution of slavery. In Professor Prud’homme’s mind, that trinity is just as important to consider when talking about abortion rights or the Black Lives Matters movement in 2017.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Washington College’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture please go here