Baltimore County school board investigates textbook purchases
At a meeting that was marked by unusually long public discussion, the Baltimore County school board members gave a clear message to school system staff on Tuesday night that they were not pleased with the waste of money on textbooks and rewriting of curriculum. Since the story published two weeks ago, school board members had clearly done some homework on their own to try to figure out what had caused mistakes to be made.
Board member Ramona Johnson said that she believes the curriculum revisions were meant to be limited to revisions that would include the novels that had just been purchased by the system. A review of what was being used in schools at the time indicated that students in some schools were exposed to the classics while others were not. The school system wanted to make sure there was equity, but a lack of leadership led to mistakes. Soon the teachers hired to write curriculum were setting off on a different course and doing a major rewrite, she believes.
Lawrence Schmidt, the school board president, had gone through years of board minutes and press releases from the Maryland State Department of Education to determine that the board had not been told about any curricula changes since 2008 and that statewide changes to the standards were widely known long before the county began to rewrite curricula.
In addition, it was revealed that the textbook purchases were made even before the curriculum was rewritten, a process that goes against the policies, according to the staff.
Both Johnson and Schmidt concluded that there was a failure in the chain of command and "resources were wasted." Schmidt said: "Our concern is to make sure the proceedures, protocals, processes are followed so that the taxpayers money is spent wisely."