Edward Kitlowski

Edward Kitlowski
  • Non-Partisan
  • Age: 60
  • Residence: Baltimore

About Edward Kitlowski

Education

I Graduated B.A. Honors Ithaca College in 1976, M.Ed. Loyola University 1986. I have graduate credits from Edinburgh University, Towson U., Cape Breton U. I completed administration course work.

Background

I am a teacher. I retired from BCPS in 2016 after 30+ years of teaching. I was Special Ed. Dept. Chair and ran the I.E.P. Team. I currently am the Director of Piping at the US Naval Academy. I taught exchange students here and taught in Poland. I was on the faculty of Project Access at Howard Community College. I am also a published author, and professional bagpiper.

    Questionnaire

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    1
    Why
    Why do you want to serve on the county school board?
    Kitlowski: I attended and taught in Baltimore County schools. I have a personal commitment to the system. I know what works and doesn’t work. I fought for better schools as a TABCO representative, writing letters, talking with legislators, and going to rallies. As a Special Ed. teacher, I advocated for more opportunities for students. As a parent, I demanded accountability of my daughter’s schools. I see serving on the Board of Education as the next step. In knowing the system, I can hold the superintendent accountable, not only to budgeting but also to curricular and disciplinary issues. I believe my experience will benefit not just the teachers, students and parents in District 6, but all of Baltimore County. I believe BCPS should prepare students for life, not just graduation. The leadership of BCPS made decisions that were often more about ulterior motives than what was best for students, parents and teachers. Sometimes it seemed like making the Newsweek list was more important than our student’s education. This mindset generated the agenda and priorities of the system. Many parents, teachers and students have been left out of the decision making process. When I started in BCPS, participatory decision making was not only encouraged, it was common. There are many great teachers in BCPS. There are many dedicated parents. There are many students who , now more than ever, need a world class education system based on authentic, tested and vetted programs.
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    2
    Technology
    Has the county’s use of educational technology in the classroom been appropriate? Do you support the system’s expenditures for student laptops?
    Kitlowski: Educational technology is a broad term. As a teacher, I utilized both software and hardware that was provided. There are phenomenal resources available, many of which greatly expanded student’s educational opportunities and abilities. Conversely, there were frequent changes in grading, and attendance programs. At one point, all the MAC computers were taken to be replaced with Dells, which were then again replaced. Some programs were purchased that were not used. Using technology became more important than effective teaching. Many programs were more geared toward test preparation than curricular enhancement. Support for these programs was inconsistent. Teachers were not part of the decision process. There are many misconceptions regarding the current contract. There is a sense of wasteful spending on top of ethics violations that obscures the issue. Students and teachers need training and access to technology. It is part of our world. The real question is not the expenditure but the benefits. My personal experience is BCPS has made some poor decisions. Some are contractually obligated. There needs to be better oversight and vetting of technology. BCPS must do a better job explaining the rationale for expenditures. Issues that have not been fully explored are the medical and developmental aspects of computer use. Research indicates students are using smart phones hours a day, not counting time on school computers. Research also suggests there are negative implications and addictive qualities which are counter to the purpose of education.
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    3
    Resource equity
    Are the system’s resources fairly and equitably divided among its schools? Does the system provide adequate support for students with large populations of minority or low-income students?
    Kitlowski: The quick answer is no; fair and equal are not the same. To use an analogy, doctors don’t provide the same care to all the patients who enter the hospital. Students who live in upper or middle class communities enter schools already with a background that puts them educationally at an advantage over students from low income areas. Poverty is not a volitional issue. Many children enter school already behind their age peers. Research shows poverty and stress have deleterious effects on a child’s developing brain. Closing the educational gap is greater than just a classroom and/or teacher issue. Schools that are effective in low income areas are those that provide community support and have lower student to teacher ratios. At one time, BCPS differentiated school staffing based on community needs. I taught in a high school that had over a dozen cuts in staffing when the superintendent decided to staff all high schools at the same level. Many new teachers are assigned to schools in low income areas and are not adequately prepared or trained for their position. I believe there has been a lack of commitment to addressing the needs of students in low income and minority communities. The issue of expenditures on technology is directly connected to the question of providing for the needs of all students. Many community members feel services for low income areas were sacrificed to finance technology. Dr. Dance’s actions contribute to that perspective.
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    4
    Oversight
    What additional steps, if any, need to be taken to ensure that the board exercises adequate oversight over the superintendent? Do you see a distinction between the disclosure failures that led to former superintendent Dallas Dance’s guilty pleas and those that interim Superintendent Verletta White has admitted to?
    Kitlowski: Having someone with experience in the system, who knows the contractual agreements with teachers and is versed in educational pedagogy will make a difference. I commend the current BOE for taking the initiatives to hold the superintendent accountable. They changed the relationship dynamic between the BOE and superintendent. The shift means the superintendent will have to justify plans and not just report plans to the BOE.Philosophically I question how the superintendent can be a member of the organization to which he/she is accountable. There is an annual survey completed by teachers which essentially asks if school administrators are following the contract between the BOE and TABCO. These surveys can be used as another structure for oversight. The contractual agreement has been violated by principals with impunity and coercion. The BOE must hold the superintendent responsible for ensuring the Master Agreement is followed. BCPS policy states that any program or material developed by a teacher is the property of BCPS. The superintendent should not be allowed to receive money when doing business in his role as superintendent. There is a difference between the actions of Dr. Dance and Dr. White. What is a greater concern is how Dr. White is seen by the parents, teachers and students of Baltimore County. There is a sense of betrayal that needs to be addtessed and resolved. As many of the BOE candidates can attest, the financial disclosure process used by BCPS has room for improvement and clarity.
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    5
    Ethics
    Are the system’s rules on ethics, conflicts of interest and financial disclosure sufficient?
    Kitlowski: Obviously not. As I addressed in the previous question, the policy on teachers should be applied to the superintendent. The culture of the system has not been one of transparency and integrity. The current BOE has begun the shift to greater accountability and integrity. The next BOE will continue this direction. If the superintendent is giving a lecture from the position of superintendent, he/she should not receive money except for expenses, paid for by BCPS. In no way should a superintendent benefit financially from outside sources when acting in the capacity as superintendent, period! Distinctions on what constitutes a conflict of interest or ethics violation need to be amended to take into account the shift in educational marketing. School systems are relying more on outside providers for computers, software and curricular materials. BCPS drastically cut the budget for books and increased the budget for technology. Schools are purchasing more of the items used on a daily basis and not generating these in house. Educational resources has become profitable. This goes beyond just technology and includes consulting services. There are a number of “Principal Academies” that are all vying for participants and instructors. Dr. Dance participated in one. The BOE and possibly the legislative bodies need to delineate the limits to which the superintendent can participate in non-BCPS activities and receive compensation.
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    6
    Discipline
    Do you think the school system's discipline policies keep students safe while appropriately disciplining students who exhibit poor behavior? What, if any, changes would you propose to the school system's discipline policies?
    Kitlowski: The discipline policies do not generate a climate of safety, not just for students but also for teachers. School administrators were directed to reduce suspensions without being given resources for alternative measures. While most students act in a socially acceptable manner, there are students who exhibit behaviors that are disruptive in school and if left unchecked, will result in negative consequences out in the community. BCPS has not been transparent. BCPS must create a new mindset around school climate. First, there have to be clear expectations for school behavior. BCPS has to move away from the binary mindset and system of managing school climate. Students with behavioral issues need support, not punishment, by qualified personnel. A recent study indicates there is a long term, financial cost to students in a classroom with one disruptive student. Teachers leaving the profession indicate discipline is a major factor. More alternatives need to be available. The Alternative School program needs revision. Word count prohibits elaboration. Behavior management programs which are used effectively in other systems can be used in BCPS. The Master Agreement specifies school discipline plans are to be created with faculty input. That needs to be followed. Additional personnel and resources need to be budgeted. Research by neurologists should be incorporated in staff development which includes the superintendent. The role of SROs needs to examined. BCPS needs to promote greater parent and student involvement and ownership in creating school climate.
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    7
    Common Core/PARCC
    What are your views on the Common Core and the PARCC exams?
    Kitlowski: I was Co-Chair of the MD State Teacher’s Association committee investigating the impact of No Child Left Behind and was part of a committee that created a report on accountability for the NEA. Common Core and the PARCC exams are simply extensions of educational policy created under NCLB. There are many misunderstandings, and a lack of transparency around both Common Core and PARCC. Having standards and expectations is essential. Having methods to assess levels of attainment and provide feedback are essential. The current system though does neither. NCLB, Common Core and PARCC all come out of the mindset of managing schools with data. I was frequently told to “get your students to pass” a test by administrators who were more concerned with a statistic than the student. Resources and classtime were redirected toward passing HSAs and PARCC. Teachers had more invested in test outcomes than the students so that the tests did not reflect student achievement. Some students took multiple rounds of assessments. Programs were created for those students who did not pass the exams. initially these were to be completed individually but students didn’t. Schools began doing the alternative programs during classtime as the pressure to raise graduation rates intensified. Graduation rates have risen, as have the number of students taking remedial classes in college. College graduation rates have decreased while college debt as increased. Education policy has become politicized. Half of all teachers leave within 5 years. Something is not working.
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    8
    Diversity
    Should diversity be a factor in decisions about drawing new school attendance zone lines?
    Kitlowski: In many respects, schools are as segregated as before Brown v. BOE. School superintendents have tried to close the educational gap by focusing resources to schools with low performing students and have effectively accepted a policy of separate but equal. To quote the Washington Post, “Racial achievement gaps were narrowest at the height of school integration.” Desegregation efforts ended around 1990. While forced busing may not be the solution, there are other alternatives. BCPS already has Magnet schools with open enrollment. Open enrollment could be expanded. School attendance zones could include two or three options, especially in more segregated neighborhoods. Many parents associate schools in low income areas with other negative factors unrelated to the quality of the teachers. This mindset is pervasive but also fallacious. Nevertheless, parents in wealthier neighborhoods will protect their schools.
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    9
    School construction
    How would you set priorities for school construction and renovation? Has the county devoted adequate resources to maintaining or replacing school buildings?
    Kitlowski: The current Budget proposal addresses many needs. Installing air conditioning and renovating buildings is not the only area though. There are schools that have malfunctioning air and heating systems. There are bathrooms with broken fixtures. There needs to be a more thorough inventory of structural needs within the county. From that list, priorities can be established. Getting community input is essential. Many feel there is an inequity in prioritizing needs. The BOE must reestablish trust within the community by holding hearings. The BOE can act as a conduit between communities and legislators who appropriate the funds. Many of the issues facing BCPS are contextual. The leadership style has been authoritarian from the superintendent into the school building. The Master Agreement has been violated with impunity. Curricular changes have been made without vetting and decisions about school construction and renovation have been made without transparency. My campaign is to LIFT Education to provide Leadership, Integrity, Focus, Transparency in BCPS.
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