Archive for ‘Public Information’

October 10, 2015

Resources on the Funding Clash Between Charters and Baltimore City Public Schools

The root of the problem is a vague law, which has been vague since it was passed a decade ago.

The Maryland law concerning funding for charter schools

Official Documents

News Coverage

Opinion

General Context for Understanding Baltimore’s Budget and Equity

Related Issues

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.

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 4, 2013

Wealth Inequality in America [Video]

This is why every American who makes a middle class living should care about millionaires’ and billionaires’ dabbling in education reform. Why sequestration is hogwash. Why anyone who tells you there is no money for school buildings or public school teachers or health care or medical benefits is full of it. There is more than enough to go around.

Commence reality check.

February 25, 2013

Rally Tonight in Annapolis for Baltimore City Schools (Quick Links)

Wish every Baltimore City Public School could look something like this? Rally tonight at 6pm on Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis.

For more about the issue, click around:

Wanna get on a bus? Looks like limited seats are still available on buses leaving from Poly and Northwood Elementary: For emails and phone numbers of bus captains click here: http://www.becforourkids.org/

February 19, 2013

Re:education in Baltimore: Baltimore Brew Edition

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 11.37.08 AM

Have you ever witnessed an exchange that you couldn’t get out of your head for days? Like seeing a total stranger quit her job on the spot, or watching a fight go down in the street? That’s what the last meeting of the Hampden Community Council was for me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And talking about it. So I sat down (during the Super Bowl, with the radio on in the background) to write about it. Thanks to Fern Shen and Mark Reutter at the Baltimore Brew, I got to share my writing with some of the most thoughtful and engaged readers in town.

Here it is, my Brew debut.

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.

People for Public Schools

#FAIRSCHOOLFUNDINGNOW

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Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

Educators from the US and beyond: please share your teaching stories with Mr. Bill Gates. How have the policies of the Gates Foundation influenced your classroom, your students, your teaching, your schools, and your communities?

Lili Coffin's World of Wine

Featuring the best wine, travel and food of California.

A Stairway To Fashion

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Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher

“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon it destroys our democracy." – John Dewey, 1900

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Thoughts on politics, law, & social science

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