Superintendent Dance Pushes Foreign Language Fluency, Technology
In his inaugural State of Schools address, Superintendent Dallas Dance touted plans to produce "globally competitive" graduates.
To succeed in "tomorrow's world," Superintendent Dallas Dance says Baltimore County public school students need to have an edge.
"Our goal is not just to help our students graduate on time, but to help them graduate ready to be globally competitive," Dance said during his inaugural State of Schools address at Valley Mansion in Cockeysville on Thursday. "Earning a BCPS diploma needs to have a greater meaning. Our diplomas need to be distinguished for their value."
The superintendent revealed his intent to pursue initiatives to ensure that all students will be bilingual upon graduation and that all middle and high school students will be equipped with digital technology as part of meeting that goal.
"Technology allows our students access to more information and to other teachers and learners—not just more information, but more accurate and timely information," he said. "By the time a textbook can be written, printed and delivered to our schools, it is already outdated. And, let's not even highlight the cost of that textbook."
Dance is also looking to investigate options to teach foreign languages at the elementary school level instead of waiting for students to enter middle and high school.
"Research tells us that students who begin learning a second language before adolescence are more likely to become fluent speakers, and that they will have higher academic achievement overall," he said.
Foreign language and digital conversion will be included in the school system's five-year Blueprint 2.0 strategic framework. The plan's four focus areas are academics, communications, safety and organizational effectiveness.
"The great challenge is that educating today's children to succeed in tomorrow's world can't be done with yesterday's educational system," Dance said.
The superintendent also touched on the importance of educational equality at several points during his speech. Baltimore County Public Schools has faced criticism from local education advocates, who claim some regions in the school district receive preferential treatment over others.
"I truly believe that every single student deserves an extraordinary education, a world class education," he said.
In line with that philosophy, Dance told a reporter after his address that he will present a proposal to the Board of Education in April to audit the magnet program, which is available to only a limited number of students. Part of that effort is to consider offering transportation to all magnet school students, regardless of geographical location.
"It's something we have to answer," he said. "How do we make sure [school programs] are equitable, that students have fair access?"
Following the address, school board President Lawrence Schmidt voiced support for Dance's plans, calling them "great." He also lauded the superintendent for his dedication to keeping open lines of communication with the community.
"The key for us as board members is to keep [the school system] moving forward, but to make sure we are managing our budget efficiently," he said.