Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Local students stay engaged

Silver Chips, Montgomery Blair High School's award-winning newspaper has picked up the beat, featuring the No Labels issue on the front cover of their print edition. The article, "SGR testifies against labels" focuses on Senior Kirstyn Ross-Roach's BOE testimony before the Board of Education.

In addition to the history and context of the No Labels issue, the article describes some of the recent events at Blair, sponsored by Students for Global Responsibility (SGR). They hosted two events, one in conjunction with the Diversity Workshop student group, designed to raise awareness and connect with Student Member of the Board Alan Xie, who expressed his support for removing the label.

Above: Blair senior Kirstyn Ross-Roach looks over her testimony with Silver Chips reporter Junior Sebastian Medina-Tayac.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gazette puts No Labels on the front page

The Montgomery County Gazette picked up on the hot debate around labeling and featured the story in today's paper. The article, "Campaign against 'Gifted and Talented' label revives long-standing Debate" outlines the many reasons the label must go.

Staff writer Andrew Ujifusa quotes several supporters, including parent Nora Cartland, Blair teacher George Vlasits and Blair student Kirstyn Ross-Roach.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Demanding change

Three powerful voices spoke out against labeling at tonight's jam-packed Board of Education meeting. Walt Whitman counselor Jennifer Higgins, Montgomery Blair student Kirstyn Ross-Roach, and Eastern Middle School parent Nora Cartland all testified to the damaging effects of labeling in our schools.

Higgins spoke about how she struggles to work with students who don't believe in themselves after having their self-esteem cut down by years of labeling and tracking. Even when they've proven that they can be successful in upper-level classes, students (and their parents!) have often internalized the years of messaging that they don't measure up.

Cartland shared from her experiences as a mother of two daughters in the MCPS system. Among other concerns, she drove home the way our system of labeling reinforces negative racial stereotypes that students of color aren't as smart as their white peers.

Finally, Ross-Roach offered her personal experiences as a student who didn't quite fit the mold of a "Gifted" student, and consequently missed out on the opportunity for a challenging and engaging academic experience.

These testimonies are the most recent addition to the series of stories and appeals brought before the Board over the past three months. Teachers, community members and alumni have already stepped forward to share their piece.

Also in attendance tonight was a tremendous showing of support for the hands-on, vocational programs at Thomas Edison High School. Their unique curriculum provides many students who might have otherwise fallen though the cracks a chance to rediscover school as a place where they can be successful. Many in attendance were curious and interested in the No Labels campaign.

Tonight certainly offered a powerful opportunity to bear witness to the community support behind creative, innovative instruction that provides our students with the equitable, empowering and high-quality education they deserve.

Video of the testimony will be posted on the Board of Education website.

Above: No Labels coalition members show their support at the Board of Education meeting. From left to right: Ed Hsu, Nafissatou Rouzaud, Kirstyn Ross-Roach, Jennifer Higgins, George Vlasits, and Mandy Xu.