Racial Equality in Schools, Economic Development Priorities and Electric School Buses

Racial Equality in Schools, Economic Development Priorities and Electric School Buses

A sampling of your opinions and feedback on news of the week

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Starting today, we’ll provide a weekly sampling culled from reader comments on some of the most-read Bethesda Beat stories.


MCPS Superintendent: ‘We Need To Talk About Students Respectfully’

The Montgomery County public school system is beginning to look at redrawing boundary lines for its school clusters – groups of elementary and middle schools that feed into high school territories – to relieve crowding. While redistricting has always been a hot-button topic, recent public forums on the need to make transfers have raised questions about racial equity, academic performance gaps and the impact school quality has on neighborhood home values.


Reader comments:

  • No one should have to go to a school that fails to help kids meet their potential. Even our good schools aren’t doing as well as they should be, especially on math. No, redistricting isn’t our only viable solution. Challenging whether we have the right bureaucratic model or whether we’re aggressive enough in removing poor performers from the faculty and staff both are viable options. Redistricting is the only option they present though, because it allows them to shove structural remedies off on their successors.
  • At least once a week I read something that confirms our decision to home school with a church- based umbrella program…
  • I think it’s about time that the MCPS are divided into smaller districts with different superintendents leading each district. This would also eliminate the issue of downcounty schools being shut down for snow that is only bad in Damascus.
  • I think the school system is mediocre now because MCPS has added layers of bureaucracy and administration and driven a lot of the creativity out of the classroom and because it has had a series of poor leaders who were more concerned about their reputations and next jobs than they were about the kids. There would be less criticism of your regime if you came up with credible plans for fixing underperformance instead of rearranging school boundaries to cover up for your incompetence. But instead you do what you do, so no one trusts you or your initiative



Petr Stepping Down as Head of Economic Development Office

Image by Douglas Tallman.

David Petr, right, the first president and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, will leave this fall and is moving to Texas for “family reasons.” The organization, which receives funding from the county government, was recently questioned by the County Council on its performance in attracting companies and jobs following a think-tank report that said Montgomery was lagging behind Northern Virginia in economic development.


Reader comments:

  • MoCo could be a hub of free enterprise, flourishing commerce, fun and thriving families and more. Prosperity comes to highly-educated, urban and suburban areas that are left alone and allowed to thrive, sustainably, organized not from so-called central planners in a County Council but through free enterprise, low regulations and stable taxing methods.
  • MoCo economic development is hampered by the fact that the county – and the state – do not promote businesses and grow jobs as they tend to pass laws and regulations that are stacked against economic development. Just look at the many – and daily – successes of the Fairfax County Development Authority – and weep.
  • Did Petr figure out that the MCEDC model is not sustainable? MoCo businesses are not used to paying promote the County; they are used to the County paying to promote their businesses.
  • On and on it goes. The county could and should be a magnet for entrepreneurs of all types. But it isn’t. Look what Northern VA is doing in cyber security, analytics, business to business, breweries, wineries, and more. Less red tape, predictable taxes. Sustainable contracts. More “ROI” (to borrow a Kamala Harris term) from the government. More accountability by local politicians. Less union and special interest capture.



Legislature Passes Electric School Bus Mandate; Montgomery Looks into Testing

In a little-noticed vote, Maryland lawmakers passed a bill requiring all new school buses be “zero-emission” vehicles. Without state grants, the requirement would have cost the Montgomery school system an estimated $84 million. The Montgomery fleet, the largest in Maryland, has about 1,300 buses and replaces them in a 12-year cycle, or about 109 each year. Each bus costs roughly $120,000 and ensuring each produces zero emissions adds an estimated $65,000 per bus, according to school system staff.


Reader comments:

  • I’m surprised the article doesn’t mention the savings in running costs. Electricity is considerably cheaper than diesel and electric vehicles have many fewer moving parts. There would also be a decrease in noise. Overall, it sounds like a good idea, but they probably should run a pilot program to verify how well these buses perform.
  • Another dumb idea and a gigantic waste of taxpayer money.
  • Governments trying to get to Carbon Neutral will have a net neutral affect on carbon emissions. As institutions decrease their demand for fossil fuels, the price for those fossil fuels will go down and private demand will fill in the void. Without a Carbon Tax overall fossil fuel consumption will not change.
  • Some comments wrongly state that electric buses pollute as much a diesel because coal is a significant fuel for electric generation. However, we have a mixture of electric fuel sources that also include nuclear, natural gas, solar, and wind. More importantly, with diesel buses, the exhaust is concentrated where emissions directly harm nearby children and adults.



Charges Against ‘HOC 7’ Protesters Dropped

For months, members of a Bethesda church and their supporters have pushed the county’s Housing Opportunities Commission to recognize a historically black cemetery on the grounds of apartments off River Road. During protests last winter, several demonstrators were arrested and charged for disrupting meetings of the HOC, the county’s public housing authority. This week, prosecutors dropped charges against those arrested.


Reader comments:

  • This case against these defendants was fueled by racism, segregation and white supremacy. This is a victory for common sense and decency in our county.
  • Glad the case was dropped, solely because it’s a waste of court resources. If the church wants that land, they should raise money to buy it, not expect a gift from the taxpayer. And if this alleged cemetery is so important to the church, they can build a nice museum or memorial to it on their existing property. Why have they not done so? They’ve been protesting to seize this land as their own for years — why not put all the energy into building their own memorial on their own property?


Some comments have been abridged. Full text accompanies the story online.

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