The superintendent for Montgomery County Schools gave the first ever "State Of The Schools Address" this morning in front of a mostly full audience at the Strathmore Music Center.
Dr. Joshua Starr has been on the job for a little more than a year, and he gave the address in front of an audience largely composed of business and industry leaders both to put his imprint on the job and to make a pitch for greater partnerships with the business community.
"Please continue to partner with us to provide opportunities for our students and families," said Starr. "That means internships for students, professional learning opportunities for teachers."
While the school system is routinely ranked among the best in the country, Starr did point out many areas in need of improvement. He noted that county schools have the highest graduation rate of African-American males in the country, according to the Schott Foundation, but they were unwilling to stop there.
"An African-American of Hispanic ninth-grader is three or four times more likely to drop out before graduation than a white or Asian student," said Starr.
While conceding that MCPS still had work to do, Starr also gave a defense of traditional public schools. He said there's a lot of "noise" out there about how to fix public education.
"Charter schools, longer school days, technology — they have their place," said Starr. "But they are no panacea. We know what really works: constantly working to develop the knowledge and skills of our employees and great leadership in every building."