2021 | Schools

School Notes: B-CC students hosting forum on news media

Plus: School board plans public hearing about school resource officers; School board meets Tuesday to discuss reopening, budget

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B-CC students hosting forum on ‘America’s falling out with mass media’

Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students have organized a virtual forum to discuss America’s relationship with mass media.

The multiday forum, beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will feature sessions with journalists from major outlets like CNN, Fox News, New York Times, The Washington Post and The Daily Beast.

The event begins with an opening speech from Brian Stelter of CNN.

On Wednesday, sessions begin at 2:30 p.m. Topics will include media literacy, social media’s impact on news, getting more representation in reporting, and reporters’ relationships with administration.

At 4 p.m., there will be a workshop for students about how to write profiles. Students can interview each other and write short features to be included in a B-CC publication.

Sessions on Thursday begin at 4 p.m. and will feature discussions about protecting journalism from political attacks, data, and maintaining journalistic standards in the face of financial pressure to increase subscriptions.

The event will end with a panel with journalists discussing how to “disrupt the polarization of mass media.”

Registration is open and free for everyone. Donations can be made to the B-CC High School Educational Foundation.

Information about speakers, panelists and sessions are available in an online flier provided by B-CC.

School board plans public hearing about school resource officers

As the Montgomery County Board of Education continues its review of the school resource officer program, it has scheduled a public hearing to gather feedback from community members.

The hearing will be on March 2. A second public hearing might be held on March 4, according to a news release from the school district. Times for the hearings were not given.

The school board began its review of the school resource officer (SRO) program this summer, as protests sprouted across the country calling for police reform following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The school board directed Superintendent Jack Smith to compile data and information to help it assess whether to discontinue or modify the school resource officer program.

The review was expected to be completed in January, but the school board voted to extend the review.

Board members asked for more nuanced data and expressed concern about allegations that a committee established to guide the analysis was “flawed” and “clearly prioritized preserving the status quo.”

Final recommendations about the future of the program are now due by May.

One concern that opponents of the program have raised is the possibility that minority students are arrested disproportionately.

MCPS data released in October show that 460 students were arrested in the past three school years. Of those arrests, 382 (83%) were of Black and Hispanic students. Eleven percent of arrests were of white students during the same time period.

School board meets Tuesday to discuss reopening, budget

The Montgomery County Board of Education will hold a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the reopening of school buildings and the next fiscal year’s budget.

It will be the board’s final meeting before the first group of students are expected to return to buildings on March 1.

The public portion of the meeting will begin at 1 p.m. and is scheduled to last until about 6:30 p.m.

The first group of about 700 students — less than 1% of the student body — is scheduled to return to schools on March 1 after a year of virtual classes. Other students will begin to phase back into buildings March 15.

Students were last in schools for regular in-person classes on March 13, 2020.

The reopening plan has caused friction between teachers and MCPS leadership. The teachers union this week took a vote of “no confidence” in the plan, concerned that the district is not prepared to provide adequate staffing. The teachers also demanded they be vaccinated before returning to buildings.

The school board declined to meet with the union on Thursday to discuss its concerns.