Archive for ‘Open Conversations’

March 23, 2017

The Quiet Fight for Fair School Funding in Baltimore City Continues

We ask that Baltimore City Schools reveal the actual disparity between charter and traditional public school funding per pupil for 2018…and one other thing.

via How much less are Baltimore traditional schools getting next year? — People for Public Schools

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March 24, 2016

Baltimore City Charter Lawsuit Q&A

When charter schools filed suit against Baltimore City Public Schools in fall 2015, People for Public Schools wanted to know what was at stake. Here’s what we learned.

Source: Baltimore City Charter Lawsuit Q&A

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.

 

 

February 3, 2013

This Week in Five Links (Caw! Caw!)

405px-Paul_Gustave_Dore_Raven14

  1. Greening, Hoop House at Hampden School Angers Neighbors, Adam Bednar, North Baltimore Patch, Jan. 29, 2013
  2. Too Many Teachers Are Quitting, Experts Warn, Janet Bagnall, The Montreal Gazette, Feb. 1, 2013
  3. More Lessons About Charter Schools, Editorial, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2013
  4. Dismantling Public Accountability & Transparency in the Name of Accountability & Transparency? Bruce D. Baker, School Finance 101, Feb 2, 2013
  5. Baltimore Ravens Win Super Bowl, Defeating San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Sun, Feb. 3, 2013
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.

January 6, 2013

Re:education in Baltimore’s Year in Review and a Look Ahead

Happy New Year!

This is one of those posts that is coming too late. I haven’t been blogging very much. The posts have fallen off. Despite appearances, I have not given up. But I have been reflecting on what it is I am doing with Re:education in Baltimore.

As much as I love racking up the page views with agitations like “My Kids Are Too Good for Public School…” (most viewed post ever) and “Two Thumbs Up for ‘Won’t Back Down'” (post responsible for busiest day yet), for 2013 I have committed to spending only one hour a week to produce one post – far less time than it takes to write the essays that bring one-time traffic. This blog will truly become a blog – a record of my reading and wandering across the Web. The goal is to spend much more energy IRL (that means In Real Life) meeting people f2f (that means face to face).

How did my year in blogging go? If you’re curious, check out the WordPress Annual Report for Re:education in Baltimore.

Until next week!

Edit

November 26, 2012

Baltimore Education Buffs, Mark Your Calendars

Tuesday, November 27, will be a big night for Baltimore City education buffs.

Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners – Special Meeting
6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. 200 E. North Ave., 21202
The Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners will hold a special meeting at district headquarters to unveil the details of its 10-year plan to improve Baltimore City public school buildings.

Author Paul Tough
7:00 p.m. 212 W. Cold Spring Lane, 21210
Bolton Street Synagogue will host Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.

I’ll be at the latter. Where will you be?

October 12, 2012

Is Teacher Quality a Bigger Influence Than Poverty? New Joel Klein Biography Sheds Some Light

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visit
with students at Explore Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y.
By U.S. Department of Education [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Joel Klein may be the mastermind behind the meme that teacher quality, not a student’s socioeconomic status, is the biggest predictor of academic success. He has used his own streets-to-riches story to make the case.

In the November/December issue of The American Prospect, Richard Rothstein turns Klein’s argument on its head by telling a very different story of how Klein grew up. It’s a must read.

I suggest you start here, at the Economic Policy Institute blog, with Richard Rothstein’s own introduction to his piece. He maps out the thinking behind it. He also underscores the story’s emphasis on the role of public housing policy in segregating American cities. The impact of housing policy on public education is something no teacher can unwind. (This is as good a place as any to plug Antero Pietila’s book, Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped an American City, which untangles the history of racism, redlining, and white flight in Baltimore.) If Joel Klein succeeded because he did not grow up among poor minorities, then there has to be more to improving outcomes for American public school children than firing bad teachers. City planning, zoning, and housing policy all need to be part of the conversation.

You can read the article itself here: Joel Klein’s Misleading Autobiography: What the former chancellor of New York City schools’ sleight of hand tells us about education reform. You might also get something from this piece, “Joel Klein’s Hidden Legacy” by PBS education correspondent John Merrow, which traces Klein’s influence on American public education and education reform. That influence is multiplied by Klein’s former deputies,  Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Andres Alonso among them.

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