January 8, 2010
To the Montgomery County Council: [also sent to MCPS BOE]
I have never before written to you regarding the many difficult financial decisions faced by MCPS. I am taking up the issue now because of what I perceive to be a threat to MCPS’s crown jewels – its magnet programs. I am most familiar with Blair High School’s magnet program in math and computer science because of my son’s three years there. MCPS and every county citizen should be proud of the remarkable national reputation Blair’s magnet program has achieved. Its curriculum and faculty are truly outstanding and easily the best that I have seen for any high school program. A critical component of what makes Blair’s program possible is its ability to draw students from throughout the county. The accretion of a critical mass of students justifies devoting the necessary resources to create such an exceptional program. Without that pool of students, the program cannot survive and certainly would not be worthy to be called a magnet program.
That brings me to the topic at hand of MCPS-provided transportation to the magnet programs. It would be a grave mistake for the county not to provide transportation to these programs. The essence of what it means to have these programs as "magnets" for students from around the county requires that transportation be provided. Without the students, there is no program, and without transportation, the necessary students will not be there. As hard as the financial issue is for MCPS, there really is no alternative if the county wants to keep the crown jewels. Make no mistake that I am writing this out of a narrow self-interest. My son does not use MCPS transportation to get to Blair, and he has only one more year to go in any event. I am exhorting you to keep the magnet programs strong because of the value they bring to MCPS and to the county overall.
Your task is to find the resources necessary to maintain the magnet programs. Of all of your responsibilities, this one surely deserves a great deal of attention and effort.