Reacting to Dance’s departure

Emma Walz, Managing editor

Students yelled out in the middle of class as the unexpected news broke around 10:15 a.m. April 18. Staff received an email from Dallas Dance, and the news trickled down to students from social media announcing that the superintendent will resign from his position June 30, according to a Baltimore Sun article.
“I’m shocked. I mean, nobody knows what to say,” Latin teacher Dawn Mitchell said.
French teacher Bella Nabutovsky said she was happy about the news.
“The grading system is a complete mess, and I don’t think he understands what he has done,” Nabutovsky said. “Maybe that’s why he resigned. He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to solve these problems himself.”
Freshman Anne Wang also critiqued Dance for implementing the grading policy.
“Because homework isn’t graded so now, kids aren’t going to do it,” Wang said.
Still, Wang applauded Dance’s motivating videos for students at the beginning of each school year.
An educational advocate shared such praise for Dance. Although she has appeared before the school board to criticize some of the superintendent’s decisions, Jean Suda, whose children attended county schools, praised Dance for team building and for the steady increase in minority achievement.
“He has pushed people to reevaluate how they teach students of different races and ethnic backgrounds,” she said.
In fact, black graduation rates have topped those of whites in the county schools for the first time, according to the Sun.
Suda also praised Dance for making so much information available to stakeholders on the Baltimore County Public Schools website.

But Suda criticized Dance’s tendency to issue decisions without explaining or negotiating. She cited his decision to implement the block schedule in all high schools despite complaints as an example. She also said she wished the county had studied the efficacy of placing laptops in the hands of young students before placing them in all elementary schools.
Students also cited laptops as a concern along with abandoned scanner-read I.D. cards – initially labeled mandatory.
As for traits in the next superintendent, teachers were specific.
Science teacher Marty Stranathan said he would like to see money spent to hire more teachers rather than to fund technology.
World language department chairman Eva Van Horn requested more involvement from higher-ups.
“I need somebody who is in the trenches with us.”
And art teacher Joanna Waring identified one essential prerequisite for the next superintendent – experience as a classroom teacher.