Question about the Outdoor Lab program

I received the question from a voter on the Outdoor Lab program:

Are you familiar with the Outdoor Lab and the Arlington Outdoor Education Association that owns the property? Have you/your children visited the Lab? Last year the Superintendent proposed a budget to the school board that did not fund the Lab - it and other programs were restored after the Arling. Co Board agreed to real estate tax increase. With the uncertainty of the COVID 19 impact SB eliminated field trips but still has OL staff, other costs and transportation to the in the budget. How strongly to you support the OL program? Are there other reductions you would consider before reducing the OL budget? Is "social distancing" including transportation feasible next year to allow the OL program to continue? The previous Superintendent had an emphasis on technology and computers - the OL program while STEM related and includes "hands on science" seemed to have lesser importance. What is your opinion of the value of the "outdoor education"?

Here was my reply...

Read more

A question about the Arts

I received this question from a voter:

I watched the school debate and no candidate was asked or offered thoughts about the role of the arts in education (your mention of having taken drama was the sole reference, I believe). How do you view the arts in the context of STEM, other educational focus areas, instructional time and the APS budget?

And here was my reply...

Read more

A Technology Question

I received the following question from a voter about technology in the classroom and, specifically, the iPads. We only get a minute or two answer these questions in the forums, so I thought I would share a deeper dive.


Ms. Munnell, I really like what you have to say about innovation and technology. I believe that sets you apart from the other candidates. As an Instructional Technology specialist for FCPS, what you say really resonates with me. Do you mind briefly sharing with me your position on iPADs and what you see as the optimal approach for APS to engage in distance learning.”

It is hard to be brief regarding my position on iPads...

Read more

Recruiting Minority Teachers

Did you know that ever since the Vietnam War, the Pentagon has filed several amicus curiae briefs supporting affirmative action? As stated in one of their briefs: “For the United States military, a highly qualified and racially diverse officer corps is not a lofty ideal. It is a mission-critical national security interest.”

What does this have to do with my platform? Let’s think about what it means to recruit and retain high quality teachers — especially minority teachers.

Read more

Forget SOLs

UPDATE: Woo Hoo - just updated 1 hour ago - NO SOLs in the fall. 

Lord have mercy! We do not need an SOL test to determine where gaps in learning are occurring during our closure. This is pure and simply about money - and the company's name is Pearson North America.

Think about the transition that will occur when our schools re-open. In our elementary schools, many children will have to relearn just what going to school is. Do you want the first thing the little ones do upon return is to go through test prep? If your freshman was in earth science, now moving into biology, would you want test prep for earth science before they start the study of biology? Math and reading at all levels will need remediation. We don't need an SOL to tell us that.

The only other state with a dumber idea is Massachusetts - the governor there has said the children should come back in June and take their state standards tests.



Online Learning

I'm listening to families' dissatisfaction of the delivery of online learning. Why no new content, no content at all, etc.

Flipping on a dime to online learning is no easy task, not for the teacher and not for the student. Presentation of content is different than in a classroom, pacing of instruction is different, feedback and interaction is different. For students, the lack of immediacy of the feedback, lack of social connections, and a switch to being self-directed - these are hard for the children to grasp when they have spent years in face-to-face instruction.

So, there is a certain logic to starting with the familiar, going deeper into content, reinforcing key concepts and exploring tangents of interest to our children. While we will all get better at distance learning, it is unrealistic to think we could do a proper job on new content for all our students.

In unprecedented times, with no notice, APS is adapting. Better than Fairfax where the top technology official is out, as fallout continues from their online learning disaster.

Learning Resources for Families

Welcome to week one of social distancing! As we re-configure our lives around the changes of schooling, work and socializing, we need to remember, these are not snow days. I’m seeing that a lot on the news feeds I follow. How do we keep our young ones moving forward without benefit of camps, or vacation, or neighborhood snow day parties?

Looking for ideas to supplement what your school provided? Let’s start with this ones that are not about "ed tech"...

Read more

Legislative Update: Disciplinary Options

This is a huge moment, whose time is long over-due.

Friday Feb 25th, both the Senate and House bills - SB3/HB256 - passed. This eliminates a Class 1 misdemeanor charge for disruptive behavior in school or at school events....

Click Read More below


Read more

Did you plug in the bus?

I'm excited! The bill in the House may be dead, but a similar one in the Senate, SB988 has crossed over to the House! This legislation would authorize Dominion Energy to “implement projects designed to encourage the proliferation of school buses that are fueled in whole or in part by electricity, along with associated charging and other infrastructure, for the purpose of transporting students and that may also serve as electric grid stabilization or peak saving resources”, then report back to the Legislature for future implementation planning.

The bill addresses how our schools can be responsive to our community and global conservation needs, in keeping with our county’s vision on the environment. Arlington is on the list of pilot schools to receive at least one free bus from Dominion Energy to test the performance and demonstrate the benefits.According to the webpage, “The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions, and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.”Saving operating and maintenance costs? Now that I can get behind,

How about another way to save transportation costs?  I went to high school in Chicago. I never rode a school bus – we all took public transportation. What if we stop running buses for high school students? APS could partner with Arlington Transit (ART) to provide subsidized fares for our high schools students. This shouldn’t sound farfetched. ART already has a Student iRide program, providing school age children with a $1 fare for any ride. And APS and ART are already running a pilot program providing 2 fully subsidized rides per day to Arlington Career Center students. We need to expand options for public transportation in Arlington. A school-community partnership like this would have immediate and longterm benefits.

School Board Work Session: English Language Arts

The School Board Work Session of Jan. 16 was very informative, an example of great interaction between SB members and the English Language Arts (ELA) department on our literacy programs. The principals who presented were particularly insightful. Worth the watching the replay...