I speak to citizens all around the city to listen to their stories about education reform in Baltimore. I think it was telling when Dan Rodricks at WYPR had a caller to his show on Baltimore Development Corporation's views on Baltimore's future and that caller spoke of how charter schools were destroying her community because as we all know the public school is the center of any neighborhood. Dan did the defiant captured media/politics behavior of stating charters have nothing to do with development, being sharp and abrupt so as to discourage any other calls that identify real problems.
After several years of trying to implement these education reforms that move public education to private businesses both academics and parents have had time to study these policies and everyone except the very few pushing them agree......THIS EDUCATION REFORM IS KILLING OUR COMMUNITIES AND QUALITY OF EDUCATION. People are seeing that this reform is indeed about development and not quality education. School choice simply disrupts a community's ability to create a sense of community in its neighborhood school as the caller said.......Teach for America simply brings people brought into teaching for reasons often having nothing to do with a love of teaching and children.....and these evaluation and testing regimens are offering absolutely no value to the classroom experience. ALL OF THIS IS BEING DOCUMENTED BY UNIVERSITIES STUDYING THE EFFECTS AND IT SUPPORTS WHAT EDUCATION ADVOCATES AND TEACHERS HAVE SAID FROM THE START.......THIS REFORM IS NOT ABOUT QUALITY EDUCATION.
In Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake places in her budget the funding for more Teach for America and Student VISTAS....all from out of town and all of which displace the elderstaff that tend to be from our neighborhoods. This is a movement across the country and it has one purpose....to disrupt the normal activities in schools and communities. It deliberately takes what is the center of any neighborhood and places that environment in flux. Why would a public official want to do that to America's public school system? THE GOAL IS TO REMOVE THE MOST DEMOCRATIZING OF INSTITUTIONS IN AMERICA AND SIMPLY TIE THEM TO CORPORATE INTERESTS. THIS TAKES AWAY FROM THE IDEA OF CITIZENSHIP, DEMOCRACY, AND EDUCATION AS THE HOTBED OF ACTIVISM. This is the goal towards which O'Malley at a state level, Rawlings-Blake at the local level, and Obama at the national level all are working.....IT IS CORPORATE .....IT IS WEALTH ..... AND IT IS AUTOCRATIC.
THIS IS THIRD WAY CORPORATE POLICY = THIRD WORLD SOCIETY!
RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE NEXT ELECTIONS!!!
We k now all organizations are captured in Baltimore so we need to look outward to find activism and groups that will help and listen to the needs of the citizens of Baltimore. We watched as Chicago and New York City Teachers' Unions fight for schools and teachers with the communities fighting with them. In Baltimore we have the Teacher Union leader embracing Alonzo and the school closings and charter system because she feels no support system from the communities. We need parents and communities here in Baltimore shouting as loudly as they do in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. We know that the goal is to push teachers out and move to a cheapened online classroom for all public schools!!!!
This just in:
My name is Emma Tai (@emmachungming) and I’m the Coordinator for Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, an organizing collaborative for education justice led by students of color from across Chicago (www.facebook.com/voyceproject).
Yesterday, some of our students went public with stories of being demoted from junior to sophomore status in March, a month before the PSAE state exam which is administered next week and only given to juniors, and which Mayor Emanuel has made major efforts to link to school closings and principal and teacher evaluations. Two VOYCE student leaders were on a list of 67 juniors in total who were demoted in March at a southwest side high school, or a third of that school’s junior class.
We’ve seen similar patterns at a number of other schools with junior classes that, by mid-April, are significantly smaller than senior or sophomore classes and are calling on the Illinois State Board of Education to formally investigate CPS officials. If you would like any more background information about this or to speak with our youth leaders, I’m happy to provide it.
Here is some coverage we got from that action: http://www.wbez.org/news/students-want-boycott-state-test-106735
As you can see, we are also aligning our efforts with Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools which is calling for a boycott of the PSAE next week in protest of the proposed school closings. You can follow the boycott preparations at @chistudentsorg or hashtags #cpsboycott and #cpsclosings.
We would really appreciate you sharing this information through your blog and twitter feed so we can raise the profile of student efforts to turn back the tide of closings, privatization and pushout in Chicago!
Thanks so much,
Coordinator, Voices of Youth In Chicago Education (VOYCE)
773-583-1387 ext. 208
Help us get 1000 likes on Facebook! Click here!
PURE AND PARENTS ACROSS AMERICA ARE TWO ANTI-PRIVATIZATION ORGANIZATIONS OF PARENTS AND TEACHERS FIGHTING TO PROTECT AND STRENGTHEN PUBLIC EDUCATION. WE NEED PARENTS IN BALTIMORE TO NETWORK WITH THESE GROUPS AND SHOUT LOUDLY AND STRONGLY AGAINST CHARTERS/TEACH FOR AMERICA/ AND
Building powerful public school parents and communities
Report from congressional town hall meeting on school closings Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis host school closing forum
Great hearing today at the historic Quinn Chapel in Chicago. You can read my live tweets from the forum here. Many important points were made, much nauseating rhetoric from CPS staff. My presentation is below, but in addition I had to address the comment of “Chief Transformation Officer” Todd Babbitz who claimed that it was in the best interests of children that these closings happen all at once and on a large scale so that they don’t have to undergo multiple transitions over the years.
I asked for a show of hands of parents whose children have already been moved, and a lot of hands went up. So, this next transition just adds to the damage that has already been done. Now CPS is saying that it’s better to “rip the bandaid” all at once. But they have been doing that for years.
I ran out of time and did not say the other thing that really galled me about these people. They have NEVER YET kept any promise they have made to our children about these transitions, yet now they say that THIS TIME they will do right by the children as they take on many times the number of closings.
CReATE researchers explain that proposed 2013 closings will affect 46,000 children
Testimony before the Congressional Hearing on School Closings
convened by Congressman Danny Davis and Congressman Bobby Rush
April 20, 2013 Chicago IL
by Julie Woestehoff
Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible Education
Co-founder and Member of the Board of Directors, Parents Across America
Good afternoon, Congressman Davis and Congressman Rush. Thank you for the invitation to speak at this important event.
I am here representing Parents United for Responsible Education, a 26-year-old parent-organized, parent-run advocacy group based in Chicago. PURE’s overall goal is to assure a high-quality education for all children. Our main strategy is to support active, informed, meaningful parent participation in the public schools.
I am also representing a relatively new organization, Parents Across America, which is a national network of active parents who believe that parents’ voices must be a part of any discussion of issues affecting our children’s education. PAA currently has 47 chapters and affiliates in 25 states. The fact that PAA has grown so quickly is a reflection of the increasing level of concern American parents are feeling about what is happening to our children’s education.
I think it’s important to put my comments about school closings into the context of the propaganda war being waged by corporate reformers against public education. As parent groups, PURE and PAA are offended by the way their rhetoric misuses and mis-characterizes parents’ interests.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. Last year the U. S. House passed the “Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act.” Thank you both, Congressman Rush and Congressman Davis, for listening to parents, and voting NO on this bill. More recently, ALEC-inspired “parent trigger” bills are being pushed in states across the country by astroturf groups like Stand for Children, with extensive funding from the Walton, Gates, and Broad foundations. These proposals take advantage of parents’ genuine concerns and frustrations, using them as just one more tool to fire teachers and other school staff and to close and privatize schools.
These strategies do not reflect what most parents want, or what research shows actually works, which is a strong local school that has the resources it needs to educate children, and that includes parents as true partners in school improvement.
I have attached the full Parents Across America position paper opposing mass school closings. I will highlight the key points of our position, beginning with the fact that this is a nationwide, not just a local Chicago phenomenon.
I want to shout out again that KIPP is just a national charter chain....it really is not focused on quality education for children as much as it is focused on becoming profit-making. We try to look at grades and stats for this organization and it is hidden under the charter protections from the public. I know that there are good charters working in Baltimore but we do not want what we k now is not a community led public school to take hold as a chain model.
We see in this article the propensity of the chain to select students....which is what all of this school choice is about. No one believes these schools are following regulations as we know no one is checking!
KIPP Ujima to discontinue placement tests
Charter's practice could deter families, Alonso saysApril 05, 2011|By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun
One of the most sought-after public charter schools in Baltimore has stopped administering an entrance placement exam after city schools CEO Andrés Alonso expressed concern that the practice — the only one of its kind in the city — could discourage some applicants.
The test at Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Ujima Academy in Northwest Baltimore, Alonso said, could deter families of lower-performing students from seeking enrollment.
Since 2003, a year after opening in Baltimore, the school has used a diagnostic exam to determine whether students seeking to enter sixth grade were performing at comparable reading and math levels as KIPP Ujima's fifth-grade classes. If potential sixth-graders did not pass the test, they could enroll, but would have to repeat fifth grade.
Alonso said he became aware of the test last year and asked the school to stop administering it after reading a description of it. Until it agreed to stop the practice, KIPP Ujima's website said the test was a way to determine whether a "student has the skills necessary to succeed" at the school.
"I felt that communicating to incoming parents of sixth graders that their child would need to repeat a grade on the basis of a diagnostic assessment … represented a potential deterrent to parents of those students needing the most help," Alonso said in a statement.
Alonso said the school could offer support for transferring students who were not performing at KIPP's level without tying an assessment to the enrollment process. Other charter schools use internal assessments and diagnostic tests, but do not use the tests to place students in grades.
KIPP Ujima agreed to stop administering the placement test that would have been given early this year, realizing that it could be misinterpreted as a way of attracting only high-performing students, said Jason Botel, executive director of KIPP Baltimore. The school primarily serves students who are below grade level and are from low-income neighborhoods.
Botel said the test was designed to "set [an incoming student] up for success. We did not think it was a barrier to enrollment, but we know it was open to different perceptions."
The school used to advertise that sixth-grade students who passed the test would be accepted, while those who did not would be entered into a lottery to vie to repeat the fifth grade. Botel said that every student who took the diagnostic ultimately had the opportunity to enroll at KIPP Ujima.
For the 2011-2012 school year, students entered a lottery and will be placed at KIPP Ujima based on their incoming grade level.
In past years, the test allowed KIPP Ujima to provide the support incoming sixth-grade students needed to get on the same track as their counterparts who were educated in the school's fifth grade, Botel said. For example, he said, sixth-graders may transfer into KIPP Ujima not knowing their multiplication tables, a skill mastered early on by the school's fifth-graders.
Botel said that this school year, KIPP Ujima has 24 students from other schools who entered sixth grade. Eleven new students repeated fifth grade because their test performance compared with the bottom percentile of KIPP Ujima's students. On average, students coming into sixth grade from other schools are at least two grade levels behind
He said KIPP Ujima did not track data on how many families declined to enroll after the diagnostic test. He said, however, that "there certainly are parents who didn't feel comfortable, but at the same time, we had a significant number of kids who chose to do that."
KIPP runs 99 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The highly celebrated college-preparatory charters are known for rigor, with mandatory 9 1/2-hour school days, summer school and extended school years.
KIPP Baltimore was one of five regions in the country to employ a placement test, according to a Steve Mancini, spokesman for the national network.
KIPP Baltimore recently signed a 10-year-agreement with the Baltimore Teachers Union that will allow it to continue operating in the city and expand its two campuses. Besides KIPP Ujima, the organization opened an elementary school, KIPP Harmony Academy, in 2009. That school never used a diagnostic test, Botel said.
Robert C. Embry, president of the Abell Foundation, which has supported a number of charters in the city, called the diagnostic test practice "definitely debatable." Embry said that charters have historically not had admission standards, not only because of charter law restrictions, but because districts "wanted to see if they got comparable children, if they'd do a better job."
He added, however, that "it is a challenge for schools that move their children ahead faster than some other schools."
Bobbi Macdonald, founder of City Neighbors Charter School and a member of the city and state charter groups, said she understood how the diagnostic test could be perceived. However, KIPP Ujima's intent was in line with what every public school should strive to do, she said.
"If every school diagnosed their children and said, 'We're going to meet you where you are, and we're going to respond with a commitment to bring you up,' that'd be real assessment," Macdonald said. "That's what Baltimore needs."
We are seeing parents and communities coming together to fight for their public schools. In Baltimore we have Johns Hopkins and their private non-profits working hard to capture all dissent.
WE WILL BUILD AROUND THESE PRIVATE NON-PROFITS!!
Public Education Fights for Its Life
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 16:46 By Max Eternity, The Eternity Group | News Analysis
Parents and teachers protest planned school closures during a public Philadelphia school board meeting at Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 2012. The Philadelphia school district has proposed a plan to close 37 schools by June, citing deep financial troubles and a growing budget deficit. (Photo: Mark Makela / The New York Times)
Austerity measures are eroding America’s public school system. With massive increases in school closures and class cancellations, advocates say educational opportunities for students of all ages are increasingly being diminished.
This is not a new problem, per se. It is, however, an escalating one, and one that is being resisted.
Currently in Chicago—under the auspices of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, the former chief of staff for President Obama—it was announced in March that 54 public schools will be closed, with 61 schools scheduled to be closed before the 2013–2014 school year begins. Emmanuel says that the closings are a “done deal.” Not everyone agrees with Emmanuel, and countering his assertion Karen Lewis says ‘it’s pretty much indicative that he [Emmanuel] has no respect for the law.” Lewis is president of the Chicago Teachers Union, and says that there are supposed to be hearings for each school, and that Emmanuel’s unilateral actions show “the depth of his contempt for people” in the community, especially those who are not “wealthy” and well-connected.
Right now in California, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is on the verge of losing its accreditation as a direct consequence of a $53 million dollar loss in state funding. Because of this, many classes are no longer being offered. Additionally, the cost of [in-state] tuition at CCSF has risen 25% in the last 2 years, and to boot, student enrollment is way down.
KQED reports that California’s community colleges have dropped to a 20-year enrollment low, and in a video report at the Real News Network, Alisa Messer, President of CCSF Faculty Union, says that “what happened in California in the last several years is that we’ve pushed a half million students out of the community college system.” And though the faculty had agreed last year to a voluntary 2.8% pay cut towards assisting in alleviating budget woes, the district cut faculty wages by nearly 9%.
Elsewhere, like in Michigan, for instance, the Public Schools Emergency Manager, Roy Roberts, announced last year that “underperforming” schools will be targeted for closure, with 130 schools having been closed there since 2005.
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg is attempting to close 17 schools, which are said to be low-performing. However, the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice have filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging the city’s school closures disproportionately affect “students of color and students with disabilities.”
Author and activist, Tolu Orlorunda, shared his findings on how race factors in on public school closings in an article entitled “Journey for Justice: Mass School Closings and the Death of Communities,” stating that:
From 2003-2012, in New York City, 117 schools were closed. Twenty-five more closings are scheduled for 2013. Sixty-three percent of the students affected are black.
Since 2001, in Chicago, 72 schools have been closed or phased out. Ninety percent of the students affected are black.
In 2008, 23 schools were closed in Washington, DC. Ninety-nine percent of the students affected were black or brown.
Since 2005, in Detroit, 130 schools have been closed. Ninety-three percent of the students affected are black.
Curiously, while public schools are rapidly closing, charter schools—using public funding for privately-operated schools—have sprouted and expanded to take their share of budget dollars.
Many find this educational shift troubling, including a public school teacher of 30 years, Stan Karp, who is director of the Secondary Reform Project for New Jersey’s Education Law Center, and the editor to Rethinking Schools. Karp wrote in a March 8th commentary about charter schools, saying “nearly every teacher dreams of starting a school…[b]ut the current push for deregulated charters and privatization is doing nothing to reduce the concentrations of 70, 80, and 90 percent poverty that remain the central problem in our urban schools.” He says a more “equitable” approach to school reform can be seen in Raleigh, North Carolina, where efforts “were made to improve theme-based and magnet programs at all schools, and the concentration of free/reduced lunch students at any one school was limited to 40 percent or less.” That simple plan, Karp says, resulted in “some of the nation’s best progress on closing gaps in achievement and opportunity.”
Further making his case in the article, Karp says:
- Significant evidence suggests that charters are part of a market-driven plan to create a less stable, less secure and less expensive teaching staff…working to privatize everything from curriculum to professional development to the making of education policy.
- [C]harter school teachers are, on average, less experienced, less unionized and less likely to hold state certification than teachers in traditional public schools.
- As many as one in four charter school teachers leave every year, about double the turnover rate in traditional public schools.
- Charter schools typically pay less for longer hours. But charter school administrators often earn more than their school-district counterparts.
Below we see what is a cutback on community outreach and recruiting in city schools for what is one of the better paying jobs in Baltimore. I listened a year ago as school advocates said they were seeing these recruitment programs dry in black schools.
We can see with all public sector hiring policy..whether it is the Board of Estimate's proclivity to hand all bidding contracts to big corporate developers who then bring their own labor into the city, or the failure to pass laws that make people able to shed the ubiquitous label of felon, filling police and fire with out of town employees...there is a War on People of Color by Baltimore City Council and Mayor Rawlings-Blake.
You feel it with the defunding of Historically Black Colleges where leaders are fired for going public with disparity. You feel it in taking schools from black communities and forcing families into only charter school choices much of which is vocational and cheapened by lack of resources. When hundreds of millions of dollars are owed to families of mortgage fraud have no voice speaking for them as settlement money disappears in the State general fund and a $600 million settlement with the state for black city schools left underfunded for decades is ignored.....both of which would rebuild schools and save community assets in black neighborhoods..you know there is racism.
We are seeing black on black racism as those pols and community leaders that benefited from MLK's work in integration are now working to tear down the labor and justice laws and infrastructure that came from the civil rights movement. There is great shame in Baltimore as regards JUSTICE!
I would like to say one more thing...the idea that affirmative action is some sort of ill-conceived social program and not an attempt to put balance in society that allows for a distribution of wealth that leads to healthy societies is a false argument. We all know Baltimore is plagued with poverty and while it includes all races it hits the black community hardest. If we spent decades giving people jobs then families would have the money to support an extended family....which is the idea of affirmative action. What do we want....deep poverty and the social ills and the need for public support that comes with it....or a diversity of people all working and providing for their families. If you have a heavily black population then you would expect to have that proportion working.
Who is the best person for the job? I think everyone would agree that we have a leadership class right now that includes the worst of society. Whether republican or democrat you can see the people rising in this corrupt corporate climate are not the best. It is far better to balance social needs and quality of life for arbitrary ideas of 'who is best'.
As a union activist I want to say as regards racism in union membership....if labor and justice do not join and work together everyone will become serfs in the near future. Unions work for all people and they work for justice!!!
Fire department to cut diversity-minded recruitment division Current division chief says mission to attract African-Americans remains vital
By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun 10:28 p.m. EDT, April 22, 2013
A Baltimore Fire Department division developed to increase recruitment among black city residents and combat racial tensions within the department's ranks is set to be eliminated in a planned round of budget cutbacks.
The move has caused concerns among African-American leaders in the department. Lloyd Carter, the deputy chief for recruitment, who would be reassigned under Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's budget for the next fiscal year, said he believes his position and the small division built around it should be saved.
"They wanted to improve diversity in the department, and now there's no funding for it?" Carter said in an interview. "The department is no more diverse than it was."
Officials said the Fire Department is currently 32 percent black, a level it has maintained since at least 2011. The city population is 65 percent African-American.
The special division and two positions — created in 2011 as part of efforts to boost minority outreach — would be cut under the plan, and recruitment duties would be absorbed into other divisions, including the training academy, according to department officials.
Fire Chief James S. Clack said he believes the department is doing "better than we ever have with race relations," and he noted that years of budget cutbacks have hampered hiring and efforts to bring more minority firefighters on board. Moreover, under Rawlings-Blake's 10-year financial plan, hiring isn't likely to pick up for several years, he said.
"The fact is we're just not doing a lot of hiring, and we haven't for the past couple of years," Clack said.
The elimination of the two positions would save the department about $245,500 next fiscal year, cutting the department's "community outreach" funding by about one-third, according to the proposed $2.4 billion city budget, which still must be approved by City Council.
Henry Burris, president of the Vulcan Blazers, an organization that advocates for black firefighters, said he is "strongly against" the plan. The organization had called — unsuccessfully — for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into what it described as "systemic discrimination in hiring, discipline and recruitment" in the department.
"If there is a cutback, it should not be in recruitment, because there is a lack of minorities in the Baltimore City Fire Department," he said. "The only way you will get that is if you have a dedicated crew out there recruiting city residents."
In 2004, the department faced criticism and outrage for hiring an all-white class of recruits. As a result, hiring methods changed and the department promised progress.
But by 2011, allegations of racism persisted, and Rawlings-Blake announced the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League would work with department leaders to increase minority outreach.
Just five months after taking the helm of the recruitment division, Carter sued the department and the city for $3 million, alleging racially discriminatory employment practices. A judge ruled against Carter in the case.
Burris said he doesn't know why Clack and Rawlings-Blake targeted recruitment efforts when negotiations with fire unions on salary levels and shift changes, including a proposal to implement 24-hour shifts, should be their focus.
"I do not see where this would save the city any money," he said of eliminating the recruitment division.
Rawlings-Blake's administration says the recruitment changes have nothing to do with diversity, but rather that the Fire Department plans little new hiring under the mayor's 10-year plan. The plan calls for firefighters to work seven more hours a week in exchange for a 12.5 percent raise. The new schedule would allow the city to cut 156 firefighter positions through attrition, saving the city $60 million over the next 10 years.
Both Carter and Clack said the department has a stack of about 3,000 interested applicants thanks to recruitment efforts in recent years. Of those, Carter said, 80 percent are African American and 30 percent are women.
Still, hiring has been slow, and Carter said he has seen "no improvement" in ensuring racial diversity.
Clack pointed out that the mayor's proposed budget also calls for more training on diversity and inclusion, which, he said, was "a little overdue." Clack said he could not comment further on personnel matters involved in the cutback.
Carter is eligible for retirement — he will have been with the department for 30 years this December — but said he's not sure that's what he wants to do. "Most of the time when people make that decision, they want to make it on their own terms, not be forced to do so," he said.
If he does stay, he may face a demotion.
Carter, whom Burris called a "seasoned veteran" and "one of the most qualified members" of the Fire Department, is still trying to understand his options. Regardless of what happens to him, he said, he hopes departmental diversity isn't relegated to a lower priority.
"The bottom line is the recruitment has to continue if they want to see some improvement in the department," he said.