Easy and Transparent Access to School Library Materials for Frederick County Residents

The Montgomery County School system has granted public access to all school library materials via tool that lists every book in each school’s library. The tool contains a search function where parents can research and identify –  by school, library content by book, author or key word – what books are in a school’s library. The tool also allows feedback to the school and BOE. This was presented to the Head of Library Media Services in Frederick County who indicated that they have a similar tool. Details will be provided in the upcoming weeks on how this can be used by parents and residents to improve transparency.

That request is pending a response from the BOE and updates will be provided on the website.

If you’re interested in seeing and using the tool used by Montgomery County parents it can be accessed via the following link here.

Once in, you’ll see the Destiny Library Manager Home page. Follow this process to use the site.

  1. Scroll down on right side of page
  2. Select/click “Access (Log into) Destiny” (Note: just click on the box, no log-in ID or password is needed for access)
  3. Select/click “one of the blue boxes on the left side of the page either: Special Schools; Elementary, Middle, High, or District”. A List of schools in each category will show on left side of page
  4. Select/click “interested school_name”
    displays “Destiny Discover Home page of selected school”
  5. Type is the book, title, author, or subject in the search field.
  6. The result will display “books matching entered search criteria which are currently in the school library.”
Make Public the Criteria, Methods, and Materials To Be Used To Determine the Root Causes of Racial Disparate Outcomes in School Activities

In the May meeting of the Policy Committee the Racial Equity Committee (REC) presented their most recent version of their Anti-racism policy proposal. The content included 7 categories of activity the REC felt should be tracked in order to report on the outcomes by race. The documents supplied by the REC for the meeting and discussion can be found here.

  • Click on “Meetings” on the top menu bar, then the May 22nd Policy Committee meeting, and then agenda item 1.06 (Anti-Racism). Three documents will show. The one containing the 7 categories is called “Revised Policy.” (Note: This cumbersome process of navigating through multiple screens and pages to obtain information is one of the primary reasons parents feel transparency needs to be improved. The Transparency in Education program is working to make that easier.)

In order to ensure public transparency on how the BOE will identify the root causes of any disparities a request was made to Policy committee members Jay Mason, David Bass, and Liz Barrett by the Transparency in Education program to make public the criteria, materials and methods for determining the root cause of any disparities. The point was made that there are many possible causes of disparities including social, environmental, economic, and behavioral conditions that could drive racial disparities and we should avoid presupposing that any underachievement by any racial group is driven solely by racism as that would hinder the search for lasting and root cause solutions. In Montgomery County criteria for similar exercises was partially derived from books like How to be an Anti-Racist, Stamped, White Fragility and similar materials that see every unfavorable outcome by race as driven by systemic racism. In using these materials Montgomery County has deemphasized other causes that should be included in the process of developing solutions. As part of the request it was pointed out that the 7 categories that are proposed for tracking racial disparities do not include academic proficiency, and that this should be added. The BOE members of the Policy Committee agreed to is consider this request for making the criteria public and adding academic achievement levels. A follow up letter was sent to the BOE on June 1.

The request is pending the BOE and Policy Committee.

Improve Transparency by Posting Committee Proposals

The BOE committees often make policy updates, propose new policies, propose curriculum changes, and add activities and study programs. In order to improve awareness of what the BOE committees are planning and increase community participation and feedback, all committee proposals under consideration or in development should be aggregated and posted on the FCPS website in a dedicated section. Currently if someone wants to access committee proposals one has to look for the individual meetings of a committee, access the details of that meeting via BOARD DOCS, and locate the document containing the proposals. Besides requiring the searcher to have advanced knowledge of what committee or department of the FCPS is working on a proposal, proposals are normally not available until 24-48 hours before a meeting, giving little time for review and feedback. As part of this request the BOE has also been asked to post the public comments in this section so parents and the community can have complete access to both the FCPS plans and community sentiment regarding the proposals.