Archive for ‘Ideas in Action’

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.

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.

February 21, 2013

Tonight in Hampden: The Neighborhood School Event of My Dreams!

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 9.32.26 AM

Not your mama’s PTO meeting.

January 17, 2013

Organized Parents, Organized Teachers: A Video by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform

This is what parent empowerment looks like.

Organized Parents, Organized Teachers – Working together for effective reform in America’s public schools From the Annenberg Institute on Vimeo. To get related resources on parent-teacher collaboration, visit www.realparentpower.com

January 13, 2013

This Week in Baltimore Education News

These are three of the stories that jumped out at me this week. Lots of room to opine, but I am biting my tongue. (Trying my best, anyway). I said I’d spend only an hour a week on this blog. (Trying on that score, too.)

Methadone clinic next to Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle?

Denied. No sooner than it was proposed, the appeal to the zoning board was dismissed because the woman who filed it didn’t show. Big sigh of relief from parents. Adam Bednar from North Baltimore Patch covered the story:

Methadone Clinic Proposed Near Charles Village School, January 7, 2013

Zoning Board Dismisses Methadone Clinic Request, January 8, 2013

My questions: Who represents our public schools in cases like this one? Is it up to school administrators? Where is the school district in all this? And the city, which owns public school buildings? Or is it the sole responsibility of civic organizations and PTOs? Lucky for Charles Village parents, they have a strong neighborhood association and their schools have the complete support of the good people at Greater Homewood Community Corporation. The fact that the applicant didn’t show was a stroke of good luck. But what would have happened if she had?

Michelle Rhee tangos between limelight and hot seat

Michelle Rhee’s career should matter to everyone in Baltimore because it was Harlem Park Elementary/Middle that gave this notorious education reformer her start. Rhee made news this week in two ways, proving yet again her media savvy:

1)  “The Education of Michelle Rhee” aired on PBS’s Frontline, January 8, 2013.

2) The national organization Rhee runs, Students First, put out their 2013 State Policy Report Card.

For coverage and criticism, see:

11 States Get Failing Grades on Public School Policies From Advocacy Group, Motoko Rich, New York Times, January 7, 2013

Michelle Rhee’s new state reform report card, Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, January 7, 2013

RheeFormy Logic & Goofball Rating Schemes: Comments & Analysis on the Students First State Policy Grades, Bruce D. Baker, School Finance 101, January 9, 2013

The Transform Baltimore campaign for 21st century city schools buildings forges ahead

No one who cares about education in Baltimore was watching Frontline on January 8, because something more exciting – and hopeful – was going on down on North Avenue. As BCPS CEO Andres A. Alonso, Ed.D. reported in a mass email:

Tonight, the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners voted to approve the 10-year plan we proposed in November to overhaul and modernize our entire portfolio of school buildings. Over 10 years, this plan will renovate or replace 136 school buildings, vacate 26 school buildings, relocate 12 school programs and close 17 school programs. And when complete, our students will be in the 21st-century learning environments they need and deserve, and that so many of their peers in school districts across the state and nation already enjoy.

For coverage, see:

City school board OKs 10-year facilities plan: it will rely heavily on persuading lawmakers to approve measure, Erica L. Green, Baltimore Sun, January 8, 2013

The Sun piece reports that Jimmy Gittings, president of Baltimore’s principals union, is not on board with the focus on buildings. He is concerned about the District’s mismanagement of funds. He has given voice before to his concerns about principal firings and the principal turnover rate. (In 2011, the Sun reported that only one quarter of principals remained of those who were in place when Alonso was hired.) Good that the principals’ union isn’t behind new buildings? No. Good that it’s keeping the pressure on about the destabilizing effects of high principal turnover? Yes. (It is really, really hard  to build trust with a public school principal in this climate. Maybe even harder than it is to build a new school.)

That aside, thanks to the good work of a lot of good people, the state of our school buildings is an issue engaged citizens can actually do something about. To take action, check out the new Transform Baltimore website. Buses are heading down to Annapolis for a major rally February 25, 2013. And they need some bodies to fill seats at some meetings between now and then. The website says it all. Do something.

August 17, 2012

The Best Wanted Poster Ever, Version 2.0

The first volunteer training event at Baltimore’s Hampden Elementary/Middle School #55 went so well, the staff is running it again on September 7 at 1:30 p.m.

Swing by and hear about all the opportunities available this year, which feature recording books on CD, dividing up servings of produce from the federally funded fresh fruits and vegetables program, and being a grown up presence in the cafeteria. (Lunches run 10:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m. for the little ones and 12:25 p.m.-1:10 p.m. for the middle schoolers. Then there’s dinner from 3:30-4:30 p.m.) A friend in the know told me every volunteer hour has a value of around $21 to a city school. I guessed it was more like $200. Because that’s how much it’s worth to me.

August 2, 2012

The Best Wanted Poster Ever


Poster credit: Ebony Alston, Hampden Elementary/Middle School #055 staff member and volunteer coordinator extraordinaire

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