At a town hall-style meeting Monday at Northwest High School in Germantown, a student had the courage to ask the county's schools superintendent the ultimate question: Aren't teachers giving too much homework?
"Rigor does not mean more worksheets and more pages to read," answered Joshua Starr, Montgomery County Public Schools superintendent. "I do get concerned about the work you guys are doing. You're working incredibly hard," he said.
Students sounded off on homework, social media, technology, the state of their schools and more on Twitter and in-person at the Student Town Hall, one of a series of events where Starr will speak directly with the Montgomery County schools community.
About 100 Northwest High School students attended the town hall in person, while a live stream of the event was shown on televisions through the school.
John Mannes, a Northwest senior and the student member of the Board of Education, was proud to represent his school as he relayed questions to Starr.
"Students there got a lot out of hearing the bottom-line truth" from Starr, Mannes said, especially about the school system's budget and cuts. Students are beginning to understand that changes in the budget have a direct impact on them, he said, and it's important for them to speak out.
"We really are the largest stakeholders of MCPS," he said.
In last year's town halls, technology was a big issue with students, MCPS spokesperson Dana Tofig said.
On Monday, a Walt Whitman High School student tweeted a question about expanding technology at school, especially through the use of interactive whiteboards, also known as Promethean boards, and WiFi.
"We have a ways to go before we have a whiteboard in every classroom and WiFi everywhere," Starr said.
A Northwest student in the room asked about the lack of honors classes between the Advanced Placement level and regular level classes, especially in high school math.
Starr said students have asked him about that before, saying that they feel "boxed in" by the limited options.
As a whole, Starr said, the school system should "make sure kids have access to AP, but make sure AP is not the only measure of success."
The next Student Town Hall will be held at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington on Nov. 14.