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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Wednesday, December 02, 2009:

Dixon verdict among worst-case scenarios; sneak peak suggests O'Malley's vision remains modest for session; Prince George's begins merit pay for teachers, linking cash bonuses to students' classroom performance; Montgomery council breaks with tradition.

Dixon trial: Lone guilty verdict leads to more questions than answers
Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) on Tuesday was convicted on one of five counts related to theft of gift cards intended for city charities, throwing her future and that of the city's political structure into question after she said the verdict "does not impact my responsibility to continue serving." Constitutional provisions appear likely to force Dixon from office, and if her public support weakens she may not be able to maintain control at city hall, but some legal scholars said the lone misdemeanor could produce a legal quagmire of Dixon stands her ground. The Baltimore Sun has all the angles covered. Tricia Bishop dissects the mayor's legal options.

Merit pay for Prince George's teachers
"Many of the country's top educators are talking about the idea of paying teachers in line with their performance in the classroom. On Wednesday, Prince George's County will actually do it," writes The Post's Nelson Hernandez. "The second-largest school system in Maryland is paying $1.1 million to 279 teachers and administrators from a dozen schools who volunteered for a new program that links cash bonuses to classroom performance. ... bonuses of up to $10,000 for teachers, $11,500 for assistant principals and $12,000 for principals."

Montgomery council elects pro-business president
A deeply divided Montgomery County Council elected a pro-business president Tuesday, breaking with the county's tradition of making leadership decisions in private and a year in advance," writes The Post's Michael Laris. "The 5 to 4 vote elevated member Nancy Floreen (D-At Large) to the senior leadership post ... thrusting into the open hostilities among members of the all-Democratic council as it heads into an election year."

O'Malley seeking few new laws next year
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) appears to have modest goals for when the General Assembly reconvenes next month. Joseph Bryce, the governor's chief legislative officer, provided a sneak peak of the governor's goals Tuesday in a briefing for the House Appropriations Committee, writes The Post's Aaron Davis. There were few surprises. The list's here.

No slots near shopping malls?
"With the fate of a proposed slots casino at Arundel Mills mall hanging in the balance, a state lawmaker said Tuesday that he will seek legislation prohibiting such facilities near shopping centers" writes The Post's John Wagner. "Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel) said he has prepared a bill that would ban slot machines within 1,000 feet of a shopping center, church, community center, playground or school -- with the exception of slots placed at existing horse tracks."

Maryland senators deeply skeptical about Afghanistan plan

"President Barack Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan met with deep skepticism Tuesday night from some of his staunchest backers: liberal Democratic lawmakers from Maryland," writes Paul West in The Sun. "Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin said he had 'serious questions' ... Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said she had "grave reservations ..."

State won't cut teachers, but ...
"The state won't cut teachers to help deal with a $1.5 billion budget deficit next year, but school administrators and public relations employees may need to go, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Tuesday," according to The AP's Brian Witte.

Report: Maryland horse racing needs a lift
"Maryland horse racing needs improved marketing, quality facilities, and better racing, according to a report released Dec. 1 by the Maryland Horse Industry Board," writes Tom LaMarra at "The board developed the report--Maryland Horse Forum 2009--at the request of Gov. Martin O'Malley."

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  December 2, 2009; 8:33 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: So far, O'Malley's goals clear, modest for session
Next: Glenn Ivey out of county exec's race, looking at U.S. Congress


I don't see the problem. The mayor was convicted. She should stepdown.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 2, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

It looks to me that the main plank in the re-election platforms of my friends, Council President Floreen and Councilman Knapp is to increase gasoline taxes right AFTER the 2010 elections. That doesn't seem very fair or smart in a recession where there are 120 foreclosures a month in the Germantown zipcode alone!

Posted by: robinficker | December 2, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Merit Pay

This is an issue that is closely associated with charter schools and is a reiteration of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Basically, it requires that teachers pay be based on how well their students perform on standardized tests. With the No Child Left Behind Act, teachers and staff were pressured to teach much of the class work to the standardized tests. With so much focus on the test, many other parts of knowledge building, creativity and understanding of subjects and their synthesis with other knowledge had to take a back seat. For many students, teaching to a test meant that they were not able to reach their full potential which would have been far beyond the level of the tests.

No one wins in this situation.

Part of the fallout also is that if a teacher's pay is based on how well their students test, many teachers will want to teach in a school where they know that the students will perform better. Those schools are, for the most part, not within the lower socio-economic strata.

Some students do not perform well on standardized tests for many different reasons and yet a teacher's pay can be tied to that student's performance. High stakes testing also puts pressure and stress on the students who become burdened with the thought that they need to perform well on one test. The test becomes a focus with little opportunity to explore and have fun learning, creating and synthesizing new thoughts and ideas.


for starters.

For additional information, see:

Posted by: dorainseattle | December 3, 2009 2:41 AM | Report abuse

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