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Posted at 9:09 PM ET, 07/31/2009

Weast’s Successes and Failures

By Vince Rinehart

By John Son
Bethesda

I applaud Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast’s hard work and success. I have been in the Montgomery County school system since first grade and, after reading this article, I realize that Mr. Weast has served as superintendent for my entire education. As a rising senior at Walt Whitman High School, a nationally acclaimed school, I am blessed to have received such a superb education, and I thank Mr. Weast for his work.

Knowing that Mr. Weast intends to retire in 2011, I can only hope that when my 3-year-old brother attends school in Montgomery County, a superintendent as able as Mr. Weast will be in office.

By Alice L. Kirkman
Rockville

The love feast for Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Jerry Weast calls for a reality check. Yes, the superintendent has some remarkable accomplishments. But if the measure of a leader is how he treats the system’s most vulnerable students — those with physical, intellectual, emotional or learning disabilities — Weast has failed miserably.

Consider the special-needs programs he has gutted in the past 10 years: elementary learning and academic disabilities classes, secondary-school learning centers, the Mark Twain school, the Kingsley work-study program and programs for gifted students with learning disorders. He also curtailed summer school hours for students with disabilities and the teachers at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents, which helps children with mental health disorders.

According to one recent county report, special-needs students are increasingly thrown into general-education classrooms with teachers not trained to meet their needs, and assistive technology goes unused, if it’s available at all.

Most education professionals will tell you that 10 years ago, Montgomery County special education was a model for the nation. But no more.

That, too, is the measure and legacy of Jerry Weast.

By Vince Rinehart  | July 31, 2009; 9:09 PM ET
Categories:  Montgomery County, schools  
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