• Straight from the Supt.

  • Bedell in various pictures

  • Changes on Way to Ease Frustration, Classroom Distractions 

    By Mark T. Bedell, Ed.D.
    May 23, 2024

    As we get set to close out the 2023-2024 school year, it is natural for each of us to reflect on the accomplishments of this year and to begin to look ahead to what lies in store for 2024-2025. We have a lot to be proud of in the year we are finishing. That starts with the celebration of those students who are graduating this year, includes the launch of our new community-driven Strategic Plan, and also incorporates the many recognitions that have occurred for our students and staff locally, regionally, and even nationally.

    As we look forward to the next school year, I believe the future is bright. We can make it even brighter, however, by addressing three issues that are sources of immense frustration for our teachers, parents, administrators, and many students And over again on my school visits and in almost every other meeting I’m at.

    First, the use of cell phones is out of control. Second, our students have way too much leeway in our current grading regulations. And third, we must continue to address student discipline issues.

    Help is on the way in all three of those areas.

    Work is under way on new guidelines for cell phone use. We are looking at a number of different scenarios and what we end up with may vary from level to level. We want to bring the plan into more focus and then work with a group of community members and leaders to fine-tune it, get feedback and suggestions, and have it ready for the new school year.

    Changes are also on the way for the grading regulation. As we put the pandemic further and further behind us, we need to bring the graduation regulation back into alignment. We gave students much-needed grace during the pandemic. However, we need to tighten things back down and hold students accountable as we move forward. There will be latitude, but not as much as students have now.

    Put simply, we want to make sure that as a school district we are not enabling students to develop bad habits that then transfer to the work force and really put our students at a disadvantage. We have been working on a plan for several months and have incorporated feedback from school staff and students across our county.

    Finally, we must continue to address student discipline issues. As I have said before, we can’t let 5 percent of our students wreak havoc over the other 95 percent. We are working hard on changes to student discipline that will make things better for students who want to be in class and learn as well as for all of our school-based staff. Our students can’t belong, grow, and succeed if they can’t get through classes without disciplinary distractions.

    We’ve made a lot of progress this year and these are three areas where we need to act to make things even better. We’re going to communicate all of these changes through a variety of avenues when they are completed. It will all be very transparent.

    We’re also going to need the help of everyone on our AACPS team, and of our families and community members. If we want to be great – and we’re not that far away from doing it – these are three areas we need to address.

    Thanks, and have a great summer!

    Mark T. Bedell, Ed.D., has served as Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools since 2022. "Straight from the Supt." appears periodically in this space.