Over half of Washington County elementary and middle schools failed to meet reading or math proficiency requirements


A total of seventeen Washington County elementary and middle schools failed to meet state requirements in either math or reading testing this past school year. Washington County has a total of 32 elementary and middle schools. This means over half are failing to adequately teach math and reading.

Of these two subjects, failing to teach kids to read is the worst. If you can read, you can learn. Not teaching children to read makes it harder for them to learn anything else.

Considering how bad our schools are doing teaching children, perhaps the Washington County Board of Education (BoE) should have used that federal Race to the Top money on something else instead of using it to give every employee a $500 Christmas bonus. Speaking of money, perhaps they aren’t paying the BoE superintendent enough money. Former BoE Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan made only $182,905 a year. Her replacement, Clayton M. Wilcox, makes only $180,000 a year.

Clearly, this isn’t enough money.

Dump trash at a recyclable drop-off box and you might spend a year behind bars

A public service announcement will soon be shown on Antietam Cable informing Washington County residents that the county’s recyclable drop-off boxes are for recyclables, not trash. Residents will be warned in the PSA that if they are caught dumping trash at one of the 11 unmanned recycling drop-off sites, they may face up to $12,500 in fines and a possible year in jail.

For improperly dumping your trash.

From the Herald-Mail:

Over a recent six-month period, the county collected almost 19 tons of trash from its 11 unmanned recycling drop-off sites, which equated to $937 in lost revenue, Washington County Recycling Coordinator Anthony Drury told the Washington County Commissioners at a meeting in February.

My feelings about this are mixed. On one hand, a recyclable bin is for recyclables, not trash. People should only be dumping their trash in its proper place. On the other hand, it’s better to dump trash at a recycling drop-off site than almost anywhere else. Show me 19 tons of trash dumped at 11 unmanned recycling sites and I’ll show you 19 tons of trash that didn’t get dumped at a civil war battlefield or behind a vacant building. Other than the county landfill, I can think of no better place to dump trash. If you are going to improperly dump trash, it might as well be somewhere it can be properly taken care of by the same people who are tasked with dealing with trash.

About the only thing more absurd than going to jail for dumping trash at a recycling bin is how much Washington County is spending for this PSA. The Herald-Mail reports that the PSA is costing somewhere between $1,000 to $2,000 to make. That’s more than they supposedly spent taking care of all that improperly disposed of trash. Instead of spending up to $2,000 on the PSA, it would have made more sense economically to just dispose of the trash.

Then again, it’s just government money. Why should it make sense?

Danger! Danger! A snow emergency without any snow!

Even though not one flake of snow has yet fallen, Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has already declared a state of emergency for the entire state due to snow. Forecasters are saying we may be hit with anywhere from three to 12 inches of snow today.

That’s a huge range. Three inches of snow is barely worth mentioning. A foot of snow is something else entirely, especially if road crews aren’t out plowing. Considering this is Washington County and the schools are already closed tomorrow for the holidays, road crews may not be out in force today if it does snow.

UPDATE: It’s now Monday morning and even though it is officially a snow emergency, there is no snow. There is wind (23 mph) and it’s cold (25°). There just isn’t any snow. The last time I checked, that’s the one ingredient you must have in an official snow emergency, snow.

Washington County school board to give employees a $500 ‘stipend’

The Washington County Board of Education has voted to bestow a $500 stipend to each and every Washington County Public Schools employee, possibly before Christmas. The reason? Because teachers will not be receiving a cost-of-living increase this fiscal year. Also because teachers and other support personnel will not have their health-care plan restored back to it’s June 2010 levels. As if the the current health-care plan teachers and support personnel currently enjoy isn’t better than most health-care plans.

Where is the Washington County Board of Education getting the money to give away before Christmas? From the federal Race to the Top program. Funny, I don’t ever remember hearing that the Race to the Top funds were to be used to give teachers, janitors, and school librarians a nice Christmas bonus. Personally, I don’t see how this cash payout is going to make Washington County children any smarter.

Isn’t free government money great? And in case you are wondering, the unemployment rate in Washington County is currently at 10 percent.

Freedom means being able to die a horrible death in a house fire

Freedom means being able to die a horrible death in a house fire

One of the things I’ve always liked about living in an apartment and not a single-family home is that apartments, by law, must have automatic fire sprinkler systems built into the ceiling. What it means is that though one day I will surely die, while living in an apartment, I won’t die in a fire. Out of all the ways of leaving this physical world, dying in a fire has got to be one of the worst.

I honestly cannot think of a worst way to go. Maybe dying in a fire while listening to the music of Jimmy Buffet. Then again, that too involves fire.

The state of Maryland recently passed a new law that will require all single-family homes to be built with automatic fire sprinkler systems. Maryland counties in turn now must decide if they want to either enforce the new law or pass amendments that would strip the law of most of it’s power. Here in Washington County, a public hearing will be held on July 6th to discus this issue.

To me, this is such a no-brainer, there is nothing to discuss. People against the new law say that it will add anywhere from $1.50 to $5 per square foot to the cost of new homes and that’s just too much. In an article about the new at the Herald-Mail website, readers have been sounding off in the comment section. Some of the comments have been quite comical. Here are some of the gems:

It appears BIG BROTHER really is watching. With elected officials and appointed officials at all levels of goverment [sic] use any excuse to traple [sic] on the rights of idividuals [sic] everyware [sic]. Before we require contributing AMERICANS in society to become the slave to all goverment [sic] whims in the name of ANY reason, let our public SERVANTS act like PEOPLE are in charge and not some official that does not consider tax payers significant.

Yes, because our elected officials requiring new homes to be built with 20th century fire prevention technology means that we are all slaves. Speaking of not-so-modern technology, how interesting that this commentator chooses not to employ an in-line spell checker. To me that speaks volumes. It’s also clear this person feels very passionate about this issue because he or she chose to capitalize seemingly random words to help make thier point.

Here’s another good one:

Next, the “rubber mats union” will want rubber mats installed under each 2nd floor window in case a child jumps out. Then, the “metal studs union” will want all homes to have metal studs v/s wood studs to a house. Get it! The 1st thing a firefigher [sic] does is disable the meter base at a residential fire and the sprinkler don’t work.

Yes, one of my worst fears is that the rubber mats union and the metal studs union will one day join forces to form an unholy cabal of unthinkable power. I’m not sure what they mean about the “meter base” statement. In this commentator’s defense, they probably don’t know either.