Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com October 24, 2011 at 8:23 am 3,215 78 Comments

Teacher Diversity Lags in Arlington — While 28 percent of Arlington public school students are Hispanic, only 7 percent of APS teachers are Hispanic. The school system has been actively working to diversify its teacher pool, however. Over the past year, 14 percent of new teachers hired have been Hispanic. [Sun Gazette]

Jury Selection for Lululemon Murder Trial — Jury selection is beginning today in Maryland in the trial of Brittany Norwood, the woman charged in the murder of Rosslyn resident Jayna Murray. Murray was found bludgeoned to death inside a Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda in March. [WJLA]

Wardian Strikes Again — Prolific marathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has “obliterated” another record. He ran the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile Ultramarathon in central Pennsylvania in 5 hours, 33 minutes and 47 seconds — beating the course record by nearly 10 minutes. [Centre Daily Times]

Photo courtesy Anonymous

  • Josh

    “Over the past year, 14 percent of new teachers hired has been Hispanic.”

    is that the kind of grammar education our kids are going to get when we pay more attention to race than qualifications?

    • dk

      This is a ridiculously gratuitous comment. No teacher, Hispanic or otherwise, had anything to do with writing that sentence. What exactly is your point?

      • drax

        That we should focus on qualifications.

        • Swag

          Because the author is still in grade school?

    • Loocy

      The grammar is correct. The subject of the clause, “14 percent”, is a singular noun.

      • Loocy

        correction, it was correct. Now it isn’t.

        • Tabby

          Wrong on both counts.

  • CrystalMikey

    Wardian is a beast!

    • Michael H.


      Or should I say +50?

    • Steamboat Willie

      Thanks BV for continuing to post these videos. Merrick’s evasiveness and squishy responses are embarrassing. She comes off like a parody skit from SNL and refuses to answer the questions directly. Buyer beware.

    • John Fontain


      Can I have that two minutes of my life back please? What an utterly stupid video. You walk in front of someone’s path deliberately to try to block them from getting around you, and then start claiming assault when they try to get past you? I know the goal of the video was to make Merrick look stupid, but in my opinion Josh Horwitz made himself look like a desperate fool.

      • A desperate extremist fool at that.

      • Steamboat Willie

        Or she could have released the survey instead of dodging the issue repeatedly. After all, she is auditioning to represent the people asking her the questions. When did candidates become so sheltered and averse to public interaction?

        • When gnats like Josh Horwitz are constantly buzzing around your head. Both sides, all candidates hate these gnats.

          That said, candidates in general do seem to shy away from the public. I think it is because of the extreme media looking to shred them apart on the littlest thing.

          The state of American politics is very sad.

          • drax

            Candidates for office shy away from the public? Really?

          • Sorry. I wasn’t clear enough. Candidates like controlled exposure. Even apparently unscripted town hall meetings are controlled. Having a rogue public gnat buzzing around with a hand held video camera is just risky for any candidate. That is what I meant by shying away from the public. They want to control the environment to reduce risk.

          • drax

            Okay. That’s true for some.

        • John Fontain

          The pleading for this “survey” to be released looks as wacky and pathetic as the birthers’ pleading for Obama’s birth records.

      • charlie

        josh is anything but.
        why is a politician running for something if she won’t be honest and upfront with the people she wants to represent.

      • Josh S

        Agreed. Embarrasing to watch. Grow up, Josh.

    • Source = Blue Virginia. Do you think it is without bias? LOL!!!!!! Ha ha ha ha ha!

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Exactly, Overgrown Bush. Ditto if the source was Red Virginia. Both have their agendas, so by me, buyer beware regarding both parties.

        • Indeed. There seems to be any real reporting going on anymore.

      • Carl

        Agreed. Nobody reads his site except for the hardcore blue Virginia dems. Seems like a lot of wasted energy and pep rally type mentality. Grow up.

  • Andrew

    It would be interesting to see what the demographics are of the applicants to teaching positions is. If, hypothetically, the overwhelming majority of candidates are white, would it not make sense that you end up hiring more white teachers? Maybe there are not many Hispanic teachers in general?

    Oh, and why does it matter what race a teacher is when compared to the student body?

    • John Fontain

      ” If, hypothetically, the overwhelming majority of candidates are white, would it not make sense that you end up hiring more white teachers?”

      The school board must think that hispanic kids aren’t bright enough to learn from non-hispanic teachers.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Andrew wrote: “why does it matter what race a teacher is when compared to the student body?”

      Exactly, Andrew. A qualified and good teacher is a qualified and good teacher and the race/ethnic group of the teacher and/or student body shouldn’t matter one rip.

      • Smart Ass Screen Name

        I agree with all of you.

        Interesting that they don’t take issue with there being reportedly few Asian American teachers, despite there being many Asian American students.

        But who cares? Hire whoever’s best qualified out of the applicant pool.

        We’d do a lot better if we could just hire straight out of undergrad the people with the highest GRE or SAT scores to be teachers.

        • Josh S

          Not necessarily. Being able to score well on standardized tests does not necessarily translate well into being able to successfully teach in a classroom. WAAAAY more skills involved in being a successful teacher.

        • dk

          People who score well on the SAT are the best teachers? Seriously? If that’s true, then why hasn’t Teach for America revolutionized education? Why do so few of them stick with teaching? Oh yeah, because good teaching really has nothing to do with whether you know the difference between “effulgent” and “ebullient.”

          • Smart Ass Screen Name

            Don’t more of the TFA grads stick with it than non-TFA grads? I know that attrition is a huge problem generally among new teachers.

            OK, maybe not just SAT or GRE scores. Fine–include a required “audition” lecture. But getting a teacher certificate is way more rigmarole than it should be. And too much of the job these days is “behavior management”–and that’s a whole nother topic.

          • dk

            The New Yorker had a great article on identifying good teachers a few years back.

            “This is the quarterback problem. There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that? In recent years, a number of fields have begun to wrestle with this problem, but none with such profound social consequences as the profession of teaching.”


          • Josh S

            Lecture? You’ll get in trouble in APS if you try to simply lecture every day in class. Lecturing works in college because behavior problems aren’t really an issue – the kids are way more motivated, they are free much more of the time so can blow off their steam, they are marginally more mature, etc, etc.

            Getting a teacher certificate is not really a lot of rigamarole at all. And it doesn’t automatically come with a job. Basically, graduate with a degree, pass a test and have done a few hours teacher training and you’ve got your license.

            Attrition is a problem because the job is hard. Much harder than it looks. And I think a lot of people just can’t get over that initial hump.

            I think the much bigger issue is that of tenure. Perhaps in an ironic way, once you’re in, it’s all to easy to put things on auto-pilot and coast, gradually becoming more cynical and not caring as the stresses grind you down.

            If TFA grads do stick with it longer, perhaps it’s because they are more motivated to begin with – after all, they sign up for some of the worst teaching assignments possible – inner cities.

            I don’t know what you mean about “these days” when you bring up behavior management. It’s a significant part of the job. Period. Always has been, always will be.

    • Suburban Not Urban

      I’ve got to agree, who cares what percentage of students are hispanic – the question is what percentage of qualified applicants are hispanic. .

  • I would just like to see Arlington hire the most qualified teachers regardless of race.

    • Josh


    • Bluemontsince1961

      Thank you, Overgrown Bush. Race and ethnicity shouldn’t matter one damn bit.

    • Wayne Kubicki

      You’d think the goal would be to get the best teachers – period.

      Yet, from the Gazette article:

      “Does any of this demographic data make any difference to the educational environment and quality in the classroom? Hobbs (Assistant Supt. for Personnel) said that, from her perspective, it does. “We need to hire staff to reflect the diversity in our student population,” she told School Board members.

      Why exactly does APS “need” to do that??

      • Smart Ass Screen Name

        It would be one thing if there were no minority teachers at all. That would be a bad signal to kids–that only whites can be teachers. But that isn’t the case here.

        • Josh S

          Close to it, though.

          But it’s definitely risky to start pointing out stuff like this. For example, at the elementary level, they’re nowhere close to having a 50-50 split in terms of men and women teachers……

          • Smart Ass Screen Name

            You have a point. It would also mean hotels have to somehow find native English-speaking housekeepers and reduce the percentage of Hispanic or African housekeepers to their share of the general population.

          • Josh S

            Well, hotels are a private sector operation. And their customers are all voluntary. So the situation is quite a bit different.

          • dk

            …and for many years this has been considered a problem. Elementary school principals generally go out of their way to interview and hire qualified male applicants.

        • Whitney Wilson

          Both Key and Claremont Elementary Schools (Spanish Immersion Schools) have very large cohorts of Hispanic teachers (the ones I know, who are at Key, are generally excellent). If you removed them from the overall statistics, I would bet the percentage of Hispanic teachers in APS would drop significantly.

      • Suburban Not Urban

        Wow – I would think the Assist…’s job would be at risk – that’s a reverse discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • Charlie

    Ahhh the hill from he’ll.
    Whatever happened to the county’s plan to put an adhesive coating on this hill so that one single politically connected person wouldn’t lose control of their bike going down this hill?

    • drax

      That plan never existed in the first place and it was just an unfair rumor?

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Maybe the county should have a raced-based quota for students to match its teachers?

  • JimPB

    A stunning photo.

    If there’s an e-publication competition for photography, ARLNow.Com should take the gold.

  • UnlimitedCustoms

    Tongue-In-Cheek Comment

    Why not flip the argument – have race-based quotas for enrollment of students in the district?

  • Buggg

    Actually the race of the teaching staff as a whole does matter if you want to see achievement of a diverse student body increase. Students need to have role models that reflect their own culture in their every day lives. While I agree that a good teacher is a good teacher… a teaching staff that is high quality AND represents the diversity of cultures of the student body will have greater impact. A quick search on the topic has many possible places to turn to for more information. http://www.tqsource.org/publications/March2008Brief.pdf http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/cheri/workingPapers/upload/cheri_wp129.pdf

  • JimPB

    RE: Hispanic teachers in ACPSs:
    Some women scientists have recalled that the then rare women faculty member was important to them as a student as an example — they (women) could make it, and and as a mentor.

    Haven’t the police gained increased acceptance and support in minority communities as a result of adding a significant number of minority officers?

    I could go on, but I think the two examples above have made the point.

    • drax

      Have Hispanics in Arlington complained that they have no mentors or don’t trust teachers though?

      • Josh S

        I don’t know that anyone needs to complain.

    • Smart Ass Screen Name

      I have no problem if they make efforts to recruit minority teachers so that the teaching staff is not 100% white (so long as everyone meets the same standard). But it’s not realistic to expect that a group that is disproportionately poor and less educated is going to produce the percentage of teachers, doctors, lawyers, or whatever in proportion to its share of the general population.

      • Josh S

        Not to denigrate teachers, but the investment in education (and it’s concomitant costs) to become a teacher is nowhere close to what it is to be a lawyer or doctor. I think it’s completely realistic to expect to hire minorities in proportion to their representation in the student body. Especially in a relatively wealthy community like Arlington.

        • Smart Ass Screen Name

          True re. the cost, but when a group has 1. far lower rates of HS graduation and 2. far lower rates of college graduation than other groups, obviously you’re going to have far fewer people from that group getting teacher certification.

        • Tabby


          • drax

            It’s “its,” is it?

          • in fairness

            If you’re going to as though every “it’s” in this post was incorrect, they aren’t all…

            “and it’s concomitant costs” should be “its” as the word is a possessive and “its” as a possessive doesn’t use an apostrophe.

            BUT the other times they break down “it is” and then later state “it’s completely realistic” they’re not incorrect… when using “it’s” as a contraction for “it is” then the apostrophe should be there. I’m all for correcting grammar if someone talking on education, but to say the word over and over as if they person made the mistake multiple times is pretty unfair.

          • in foulness

            Thanks for you’re clarifications. Their good too know.

    • dk

      +1. Well said.

  • Charles

    I think we should worry about the quality of the teachers, not what race they are or meeting some percentage hiring quota.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      You nailed it, Charles – exactly! If I had children I’d be concerned and focused on the quality of the teacher and their abilities, the quality of their character, etc. not what particular race or ethnic group the teacher was/was not. I’d be concerned with “is my child learning well or not, and if not, why?”

      • Quotas also come into play when your child is attempting to get into a good college. If your child is hispanic or black, they likely will be accepted with lower qualifications to a school before a white child with higher qualifications. The competition to get into colleges now is so fierce. If we really want equality, then all should be judged on merit regardless of race. Jobs, schools, teachers, students.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Exactly, Overgrown Bush. Way back in the “dark ages”, I recall a man regarded by many Americans as a hero that he and we should be judged by the content of our character. Sometimes it seems it’ll be a cold day in hell before that happens. You are right, all should be judged on merit regardless of race – jobs, schools, teachers, students and the man in the moon.

  • Steve

    Liberal logic: it’s not racist to hire and not hire people based upon their race so long as we feel its done for benign purposes.

    • Lee-n-Glebe

      Succinctly put.

  • novasteve

    I didn’t have a single jewish teacher where I grew up beyond 5th grade, why was I able to get good grades when school actually counted towards a permanent record despite being jewish?

  • The Dope of South Arlington

    Should the percentage of illegal immigrant teachers match that of illegal immigrant students?

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • Dan

    That is one nice photo !!

    • Lou

      Meh, unless you know much about lighting. HPS lamps are among the worst things ever foisted upon suburbia. They make me cringe.

      • Sikudhani

        Not an orange fan?

  • JimPB

    Hire for jobs, admit to college/university on strictly merit. How is merit defined each of these purposes.

    Some decades ago a dental school at a major university did a study on the predictors of high performance as a dentist. They hoped that IQ and/or educational attainment would be a major predictor(s). But, by a wide margin, fine-motor dexterity (think making a miniature but highly detailed replica of a sail boat for insertion in a bottle) was the big predictor. This kind of finding could hold for an array of occupations.

    More generally, high IQ, high educational achievement predicts only modestly to later success.

    Measures of merit might appropriately be widened considerably beyond IQ and educational achievement scores, and given reasonable intellectual ability, other measures of merit might well be the most important.

    What are the measures of merit that should be used for identifying those applicants for teaching positions in ACPSs to whom contracts should be offered?

    Should applicants for admission to professional schools be screened for psychopathy in order to help limit the pool of those entering the professionals to persons of good character?

    Does admitting to college/university strictly on a basis of merit preclude schools giving preference in admissions to children of alumni?

    • Interesting questions, but I don’t see you advocating students be slated for the position of admittance by the color of their skin. That is how it is now, and how it should not be.

  • Marty

    A high percentage of Hispanic students in Arlington County Schools are likely illegal aliens. The nationality of the teachers is a non-issue.


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