Superintendent Dance: BCPS Good, Not Great

Dance emphasized the need for the Baltimore County school system to become more competitive with neighboring Howard and Montgomery counties.

After touting the Baltimore County Public Schools system's recent successes, said there is still room for improvement.

While Baltimore County schools have been included in several national surveys ranking top schools, Dance said he wants to see the system more in line with nearby Howard and Montgomery counties' public schools.

"We are good—clearly, very good—but as I said, we are ," said , at a Friday morning address rallying administrators for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year. "Just as the data points to our successes, it also points to the areas that need more attention."

The noted additional data that showed Baltimore County falling behind Howard and Montgomery counties in academic areas, such as SAT scores and graduation rates.

"The data is there for us to provide the needed leadership to take immediate action," he said. "We can't spend our time worrying about the past, but we can undoubtedly decide right now that these data can change—must change—and, most importantly, will change because of us."

Dance then identified four key elements to build a "culture of deliberate excellence,":

  • Committed and effective people working as a team
  • Relevant and rigorous curriculum
  • Data-driven accountability
  • Meaningful community engagement

"As we begin our journey as one team—team BCPS—we have firm ground to stand on based on this team's past wins," he said. "What our students and community will be counting on as we move forward is that our team gets even stronger and more focused."

Killi Macklin August 17, 2012 at 06:57 PM
A lot of people are hesitant about Dance and his age/experience. Only time will tell. There are definitely parts of Bal Co that could use a boost and I hope he brings what is needed.
JD1 August 17, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Sounds good - for starters can we match the pay scale that exisits in Monkey Cty and Howard Cty? Next can we match their demographics? Next, can we look at the progress they are (not) making at closing achievement gaps between the "haves" and "have nots?" They are HUGE! This guy is off to a GREAT start! Looks like we have another winner...the uneducated public is going to love this guy!
Mark August 18, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Of course he is right. No truly great school system would hire a 31-year-old with hardly any teaching or administrative experience as superintendent.
MikeC August 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I'm excited to have a new superintendent in place. Dr. Dance sounds like he has some ideas to improve upon what we already have - one of the best school districts in the country. I'm willing to give him a chance to see what he has to offer us from his administrative posts in Houston and Fairfax County. I admit he doesn't have long resume, but sometimes that's not what it takes. We'll see what he has in the way of energy, drive, ambition for the county, communication, responsiveness and we'll look at the results after some time. Shooting him down after just a month in office, without school in session and without any just cause due to wild, unexplained, corrupt, illegal actions on his part seems quite hasty and says more about the motivation some have to denounce Dr. Dance than the new superintendent's job performance and ability to achieve.
Vincere August 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM
When a new leader takes a post, there will always be those who speak against him/her. With Dr. Dance, he has articulated the direction the school system is going to take, he is in contact with his Principals as a means to go it that direction, so the last part is to see if the followers (teachers) can do their job and get students to achieve at higher levels. To JD1, consider a career move to Montgomery County; I wouldn't want you to be a part of building something great when you can join something that was already great by the time you got there. To Mark, nice of you to point out the obvious. The BOE is insulated in this hire. If he succeeds, they look great for identifying and retaining him at an early age. If he fails, they can chalk it up to his inexperience and their efforts to move away from the floundering "Hairston" regime. Dr Dance doesn't have a long resume of experience, but the resume he has is full of success. Unlike his predecessor, who became corrupt. About me, I am not an employee of Baltimore County, however I do live here and have children in BCPS, so I try follow relevant issues that concern my family. Dr, Dance is not a breath of fresh air. He is a new light shining brightly to guide our education system. Will he guide BCPS in the right direction? Time will tell.
Buzz Beeler August 18, 2012 at 03:36 PM
He can talk the talk, but the answers come when he can walk the walk.
Pez August 18, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Question #1, given his past job experiences and the amount of time in each, how long should we expect Dr. Dance to stay in this role before he again seeks to move up the ladder? Question #2, as far as the students are concerned, is he going to stop the ridiculous idea that all students are college material, right out of high school? Many students need to be taught vocational skills so that when they get out of high school, they can get a job and be productive members of society. Then, when they have these jobs, they can see that the road to advancement is through advanced education and will willfully enroll in college programs. Question #3, are gifted and talented programs going to be emphasized more so that the most able students are pushed instead of just getting by because they are in classes with less gifted students? Remember that this is the county that wanted to put all students in honors courses because the curriculum was better than the standard curriculum. So, the honors courses became very watered down because non-honors students could not/did not want to keep up with the rigors of the course. Question #4, will increased participation in AP testing be emphasized less? Right now, the only numbers that are counted in the national lists are how many tests are being taken and not the scores of the test takers. The numbers look good until they are compared with the results. That's enough questions for now. How about some answers?
LT guy August 18, 2012 at 06:06 PM
How refreshing to have a superintendent who doesn't hose us down with a constant stream of "happy talk." And, to MikeC, if we are among the "best" school districts in the US, it's a sad statement about our country. Mediocrity is pervasive in BCPS.
JD1 August 18, 2012 at 06:54 PM
If you really want to know what's happening, swing by your kid's school unannounced and visit classrooms. Don't waste your time reading sanitized comments from the system. DD's "Four Key Elements..." can be found in just about any educational publication. They certainly aren't innovative or reflect anything close to a "shining light.". You have obviously been impressed by the rhetoric - I agree, let's see what happens. As for me, I have consistently "built something great" each of my 20 years teaching in extremely difficult schools and settings. I have coached principals and helped create truly innovative schools where kids from all kinds of backgrounds were able to achieve. As I stated, the fact that Dance holds MC and HC in such high regard already reflects a lack of insight. As for your comment about me heading off to MC - been there, done that. StIck to being a good parent and keep your personal comments about where I should go to yourself. When you have worked with schools and teachers as long as I have only then will you be qualified to pass judgment. Not sure where you come off with your comment - sounds like another "soccer mom/dad" who spent too much time riding the bench in high school. If you are smart, you'll shut up and listen to the educators who are the boots on the ground within the system and take the press releases from the BOE and superintendent with again of salt.
JD1 August 18, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Great questions! Can't wait to see the response myself.
Tim August 18, 2012 at 09:48 PM
So much hate around here. Microcosm of society. It's pathetic.
Tim August 18, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Why do you think we've lost our innovation? Americans of this generation have grown up fat (literally), lazy, and self-important. They've been coddled into thinking their poo doesn't stink, and it's always someone else's fault.
Concerned Mom August 18, 2012 at 09:58 PM
We can start by providing each student and staff member with the best learning/teaching conditions- and that means air conditioning in every school!
JD1 August 19, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Absolutely!! 100% of the schools in Howard County have AC - not sure, but I think it's the same for Mongomery. It's a no brainer and the BCPS BOE has let this slide for way too long.
Karen Williams August 19, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Having just returned to BC, from Orange County FL(Orlando) for the soul purpose of the education of my child, i must say it really sounds petty to be bitching about this. The Florida school are some of the worst in the nation. It is difficult to understad how people can be so upset when things here are so great. In Florida, dsylexia is not treated in the classroom, it is dealt without outside of school and on the parents time and dime! The back to school supplies list for 1st grade included 4 reams of printer paper, 4 bottles each, sanitizer and soap, 6 boxes of crayons and 30 glue sticks, all to be brought to school the first day. Then on top of this a $30 supply, there was even a chart to show who brought what, so the indigent children felt even more isolated. It just seems to be crazy to hear all this whining while we have it so much better here than in a state where you would THINK education should be at least close to ours...
JD1 August 20, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Matthew - you are spot on. Wonder who's writing this guy's talking points - Joe Biden?
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