May 23, 2014

Thank you, transformative Baltimore principals!

Thank you for saying this:

“There is widespread belief among teachers and principals that traditional public schools are subsidizing charters. This should trouble parents in traditional schools, especially parents helping school family councils make ends meet during budget season. It should trouble responsible charter parents and staff who do not want to succeed at the expense of children attending a traditional school. Each charter should reflect on its budget, then review the budget of a nearby traditional school — and vice versa — and discern the reasons for the disparity. The Baltimore City Public School System needs budget transparency and an honest conversation about how much it takes to run a great school.”

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-school-funding-20140522,0,6687049.story#ixzz32XKlYSyu

February 3, 2014

Baltimore Teacher’s Argument for “No” Vote on New Union Contract. Discuss.

From Baltimore City teacher Corey Gaber, published here with permission in the interest of amplifying the message and opening a space for debate beyond Facebook:

BALTIMORE CITY EDUCATORS: I would like to make an argument for why you should vote NO on the upcoming teachers contract. If you find it persuasive, please forward this (or just parts of it, or change the language for your audience) to everyone the new contract impacts.

1. Article 2.4 says:
“Individuals and organizations other than the Union shall not be permitted to use the school system’s interdepartmental mail and email facilities, or the right of distribution of materials to teachers’ mailboxes.” (http://www.baltimoreteachers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/TENTATIVE-AGREEMENT.corrected.1.14.14.pdf)

So if Baltimore Teacher Network (BTN) or Educators for Democratic Schools decide to put on another teacher forum like we did last Thursday, for discussion topics like, “investigating the new teacher contract” (note that we have to investigate it on our own because we’re not actually co-creators of the product and we’re not informed of its contents until right before it’s shoved down our throats), then WE CAN’T EVEN PUT FLYERS IN FELLOW TEACHERS MAILBOXES to educate them about the opportunity thanks to this new clause.

This is a clear violation of first amendment rights and is written so broadly that it could be used to rule out almost anyone BUT the union from sending an email to a teacher.

Note that this is also a fearful and vindictive move by union leadership who threatened to sue BTN last year for sending emails to teachers on BCPSS accounts. Marietta English believes that if teachers get organized to even discuss issues that effect them, they may one day be a threat to overthrow current leadership. Voting yes is voting for a self-imposed gag order.

2. This is a fundamentally undemocratic process. If you value what your members think about something, then you give them an opportunity to consider the new contract, provide feedback, make changes if necessary, and THEN vote on it.

This timeline excludes such possibilities, meaning our concerns are not only not being represented by our representatives. there’s not even a genuine attempt to listen to them at a crucial point.

Approving this contract sends a message that you’re OK with the content AND the process, thus ensuring that future negotiations will follow a similar course.

3. Voting down this contract would open up a space to bring new (and old) ideas into the public forum for debate. For example:

-Including a Total Student Load into the contract that limits class sizes. We are in a privileged position at SBCS, but many others around the city aren’t so lucky. My girlfriend has classes of 37 and 34 third graders. Special educators across the city have case loads that are literally impossible to provide all the services necessary to. Total Student Load limits can also trickle down to social workers, school psychologists, and others

-We still have NO right to grieve the content of an observation or evaluation. Again this is not a big deal in places with fair and caring leadership, but for those of us with experience in other city schools, unstable/idiotic/vindictive principals can ruin good teachers careers with little to no due process. This is something the Chicago teachers won, among other things, as a result of their united and powerful strike.

-For those of you who do not believe in teachers being evaluated in part based on standardized test scores, this contract further cements the policy.

Thanks to those of you who took the time to read this. Any one of these 3 points I believe are enough to vote no on their own. Together, I think they make the choice obvious. If you’ve found what I say persuasive, please talk to your friends and colleagues at other schools and feel free to forward this email to them if you’d like.

Much love,

-Corey

Connect with Corey on Twitter @DaKittenz.

October 2, 2013

You Can Help Choose the Next Baltimore City Public Schools CEO

The BCPSS School Board is in search of Baltimore’s next CEO. “Input sessions” tonight and tomorrow night will give people like you a chance to let the Board know what kind of person you’d like to see in that role. A former teacher? A business-minded bureaucrat? A union-lover? A radical reformer? A believer in community schools? A defender of the status quo? Maybe a leader proven to listen to reason?

The future of BCPSS is (sort of) in your hands. Even if you feel you have as much say over this as you do over ending the federal government shut-down, if you read this blog, I urge you to participate in this process.

Here’s how:

1) Attend an input session. Dates, times, and places are:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
6-7:30 p.m.
DIgital Harbor High School, 1100 Covington Street

Thursday, October 3, 2013
8:30-10 a.m.
City Schools’ district office, 200 E. North Ave

6-7:30 p.m.
Frederick Douglass High School, 2301 Gwynns Falls Parkway
OR
The Enoch Pratt’s Southeast Anchor Library, 3601 Eastern Ave

2) Complete this survey. They are seeking input from as many constituents as possible.

 

 

 

August 14, 2013

Baltimore Parents Talk School Choice

So glad Maryland Morning did this report. These conversations have to happen in public more often. (I only wish I didn’t know all the panelists. Widen my circle of acquaintances, please, WYPR. I don’t know that many people.)

Listen.

 

 

May 20, 2013

Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance School Summit Wednesday

Press Release

Are you a parent with a school-aged child looking for ways to make a difference in his or her education? We urge you to join us for the DBFA and Greater Homewood Community Corporation’s Parents for Public Schools Summit, taking place Wednesday, May 22, at 8:30 a.m. at Breath of God Church in Highlandtown.

This inaugural summit will focus on equipping parents with strategies to support their public schools. Topics will include:

How to raise $30,000 for your school with a single event
Art, music, and sports – How to make sure your school educates and enriches
The five secrets of successful after-school programming
North Avenue – Navigating your way to Central Office resources
Why families leave a school… and how you can stop them

We’ll share success stories of effective school-family-community partnerships around the city and the country and hold roundtable discussions on such topics as fundraising, building community partnerships, and taking the first steps to support a school.

This is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get involved in supporting their local school.

Please click here for more details and/or to register for this free event.

May 6, 2013

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Alonso Announces Retirement

From my inbox:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dear City Schools Partners and Friends,

I am writing to you today to let you know that at the end of the current school year, I will retire and leave Baltimore City Public Schools and this great city to return to my home in New Jersey to care for my aging parents and begin an academic position at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It has not been an easy decision, because what we have accomplished together in recent years has been both important and extremely gratifying to me, professionally and personally. But life presents us with seasons, and it is time now for me to shift my focus.

I want to thank the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners for the opportunity to help lead this era of reform in City Schools and for its commitment to transformational change. But without your dedication to our kids, your incredibly hard work and your willingness to join me on this reform journey, we would not be where we are today, proud of many successes and poised to usher in the biggest reforms yet for our kids and the district.

With the recent passage of legislation that provides funding for our 10-year buildings plan—which could not have happened without you—the work to provide 21st-century buildings for our students is moving full-steam ahead. And we have laid the groundwork to roll out new academic standards next year, along with support and evaluation systems for teachers and school leaders to ensure the best possible teaching and learning for all of our teachers and students in every classroom, in every school. This next chapter in the transformation of our district will be the most critical yet, and I know you will continue to partner with City Schools to make sure it does its best work on behalf of our kids.

Starting July 1, City Schools Chief of Staff Tisha Edwards will serve as interim CEO throughout the 2013-14 school year, while the Board of School Commissioners conducts a search for a permanent CEO. Ms. Edwards has provided exceptional energy and leadership in the past several years, leading the implementation of key reforms and overseeing the day-in and day-out work of running the district. In partnership with you and our Board members and staff, she will build on the work we all started together. For the district’s formal announcement and statement regarding the transition, please see today’s press release.

Transitions can be hard, and they can be disruptive. But this is a timely transition; it is the right time for me, and it is the right time for the district. The district is poised for a new level of reform. Coupled with our clear focus on kids and the strength of current leadership, this momentum makes me confident the transition also will be a smooth one. I am handing my work over to an extraordinary individual who has worked alongside me for more than five years, to a great team here at the district office, to a supportive Board that understands the critical role of leadership throughout the district, to teachers and administrators who serve our kids in heroic ways every day and to an entire community—from our political leaders and fellow agencies to our advocates and parents—that continues to rally in support of the work we all have done together.

You have been essential to the progress of the last six years, and on behalf of City Schools, I thank you for your unwavering commitment to our students and their futures. I look forward to working with you for the next couple of months and to cheering from a distance as you continue to support and help guide City Schools in its work to ensure the success of our 85,000 tremendous kids.

Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.
CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools

Press conference will be live streamed at 1 p.m., here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/education-channel-77

March 27, 2013

The Latest on Baltimore’s School Construction Bill from Transform Baltimore

Transform Baltimore
Build 
Schools. Build Neighborhoods.
SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE PASSES THE BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION BILL UNANIMOUSLY!  
 
We’re one step closer to achieving $1 billion for city school teachers, students, and neighborhoods! 
 
After winning a 107-30 vote in the MD House of Delegates last week, the Senate Budget and Tax Committee unanimously passed the Baltimore City School Construction bill today.   Not only have we succeeded in getting more than a super majority of the votes, we are also getting significant bipartisan support.   
 
But our work is NOT DONE.  The full Senate has to pass the bill before the Governor can sign it into law.  The Senate floor vote could happen this week – we will send out a message asking you to join us to witness this historic event.  
 
We are also meeting with senators right now, leading up to this critical vote.  If you are able to make calls or join us in Annapolis, please let us know!  
 
A HUGE THANKS to all of our partners – Baltimore Education Coalition, ACLU of Maryland, BUILD, Greater Homewood, CHAI, CLIA, Child First Authority, Baltimore Curriculum Project, Advocates for Children and Youth, the Baltimore Teacher Union, American Federation of Teachers, KIPP, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, City Neighbors Charter, Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance, Elev8, Roland Park Parents, Baltimore Community Foundation, Fund for Educational Excellence, League of Women Voters, Seawall Development, Greater Baltimore Committee, Maryland IAF, and many more for being present and active over the past 3 months in Annapolis to move this bill forward.  
 
- Transform Baltimore Team
March 22, 2013

Maryland HB 860 Third Reading Passed (107-30)

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 4.14.56 PMThanks for the good news, Baltimore Education Coalition.

March 21, 2013

Last Chance to Support #transformbmore EXTENDED

Picture 5

Twitpic of MD Delegate Maggie McIntosh of the 43rd Legislative District arguing for HB 860 on March 20, 2013

If you’ve been following the fate of the Baltimore City school construction bill, you were probably hoping for closure Wednesday night. The vote has been postponed to give legislators a chance to read the bill. Haven’t read the details yet yourself? Why wait? Download the PDF of HB0860 here. The bill returns to the floor March 21 at 10 a.m.

For national context on the state of the nation’s public school buildings, this article is also worth a look. It explains that a recent report estimates the cost of repairing America’s dilapidated school buildings at half a trillion dollars. Sounds like a whole lot. But in these days after the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it may be appropriate to note that Americans spent an estimated $1.7 trillion on that effort at nation building.

The time is ripe for nation building at home. Public school buildings are the right place to start.

March 19, 2013

Last Chance to Support Transform Baltimore

Transform Baltimore campaign’s status updates in my Facebook feed at around 10:15 pm March 19, 2013. March 20 is the moment of truth. Click the image to find your reps.

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