It falls nicely with the meeting I attended today as regards policy for the special needs classrooms for Baltimore City Public Schools. City Wide Special Education Advocacy Project Inc (CWSEAP) is the quasi-governmental organization created to move the policy written by the 1% for special education in the city. Remember, in Maryland these quasi-organizations gather a group of advocates for any issue into an umbrella group like CWSEAP and then tell those advocates what the 1% want for policy and everyone is expected to sign on. When all is done the policy looks nothing like any of the advocates wanted and it becomes too late because now it goes to City Council or General Assembly for vote. That is the modus operandus for these 'coalitions'. Special Education in Maryland is being transformed back to before Brown vs Board of Education.....warehousing not mainstreaming. You can see it in the policies they are implementing now. Summer school for these special needs children involve busing to a school at the far end of the city where kids from surrounding schools all attend. The administrators cannot understand why only 60% of families use this summer school option for special needs students. Can you guess? That's right.......parents do not want their kids so far away and the program offered does not add value.
This meeting was open to the public as parents of special needs voiced their concerns with the policy thus far. Again and again the problems highlighted involved overcrowding of classrooms, teachers with not enough help to allow them to do more than discipline, and use of teacher mentors that were Teach for America.......the non-teachers teaching teachers to teach. It is absurd!! It is obvious as Dr. Kim Hoffmann outlines what the school system is planning that she is trying to minimize the complexity of problems. As with every public comment session no matter the issue.....they stifle decent and you are referred to writing your comment on email so they can look into the problem. Dr. Hoffmann tries to make the concerns seem individual when most parents are feeling the same. Dr. Hoffmann is plowing ahead with what the 1% have said do while simply deflecting all of the public concern.
The history of special education in Baltimore is that it has always been underfunded and inadequate and the courts ruled it must be brought up to speed. Remember, the courts awarded the Baltimore City schools $700 million for failing to adequately fund schools so this is a long history. So now the city is trying to look as though it is being innovative and solution oriented even as it moves to simply warehouse these special needs students out of mainstream schools in the long run. Maryland has decided that special needs will be the lowest funded in a tiered system so amounts per pupil have fallen even lower......see what the objective is? Meanwhile private special needs schools are getting all kinds of private funding from the corporations that do not pay tax.
The first step taken is consolidation of grades for special needs so 3 grades of children are handled by one teacher......who isn't really handling it! The second is getting these families used to attending these centralized summer school facilities that are slated to be where special needs students will all attend in the near future as this is the least expensive way to educate and per pupil funding is too low to allow mainstreaming to continue. So, is Dr. Hoffman actually improving the educational experience for the special needs children or is she just transitioning the school system's strucural facilities for these students? Teach for America as support staff to the teachers? Teachers too afraid to say they can't handle the class load because they will be scored badly? Shrinking revenue for schools with ever lower property taxes and funds diverted to job training for businesses?
The goal is simply handing these schools over to businesses and allowing them to create what curriculum they see beneficial. Dr. Hoffmann says the Baltimore City School Board intends on keeping a democratic, equal opportunity system of education......I say not with what we see now!!!
December 14, 2011 Baltimore Sun
Alonso announces new cabinet member, leadership shuffles
Kim Hoffman, who worked in the district's special education office, will take the helm as the interim director of special education. It is unclear whether Hoffman will be the permanent leader of the office, which undoubtedly is one of the most critical as the system seeks to permanently shed a consent decree linked to the 26-year Vaughn G. special education lawsuit. A settlement agreement in the suit is due to end this September, if the district can prove it has improved its service to special education students.
Below you see the mayor is stepping towards privatizing yet another public service and lowering the rare educational revenue the city has now....property tax. This is a deliberate starving of sources as they seek reasons to hand the schools over to private businesses.
- MY DAILY RESPONSE TO MY CORPORATE LOCAL BALTIMORE 'PUBLIC MEDIA':
Regarding Fraser Smith's political vacuum:
It's easier to understand Rawlings-Blake and the Third Way corporate leadership's reasoning behind the approach to structural deficits in Baltimore if you know the goal. Since the goal is not pretty for the average citizen, when you have corporate interests in charge of public media you never hear them. Let's look at a few goals:
What sense does it make to lower property taxes while handing trash pickup to residents as it saves nothing? This is not about savings, it is about privatizing yet another public service and about lowering what is the revenue resource for public schools. At the same time it makes it more expensive to live in the city so working-class leave and affluent move in....that is the Best of the Best that the mayor likes to shout out.
So, look at the goal of privatizing public education being pushed by Hopkins and the rest of the 1%. Charter schools tied to businesses and private donors selecting which schools to donate copious amounts of private funding while other schools languish. Tiered student funding shows the movement away from a democratic education and towards a vocational tracking from K-college for middle/lower class children. So starving sources for public school funding is a must. Also consider that when pols tell you something while be designated for education funding,like casinos, they mean it will go to 'career job training' which is simply a move to make the public pay for a private business' human resources.....maximizing profits.
That is what privatizing public services does as well. If trash collection is privatized the citizen will be subjected to ever higher rates (think about your BGE utilities), there will be ever more fraud and waste that goes into corporate pockets, and the workers are impoverished in exchange. The public doesn't save money, it is only meant to transfer wealth from the worker's wage to the corporate profit. Can you see why Fraser Smith and corporate WYPR does tell you this? You can see as well why the national Third Way caucus are bringing Rawlings-Blake and O'Malley to national positions.....IT'S THE OLIGARCHY SILLY!!!
Maryland School-Reform Effort Ignores Teachers' Needs, Union Head Charges By Lisa Jennings
A major new school-reform effort in Maryland ignores the needs of teachers and denigrates their efforts, the head of the state's largest teachers' union charged last week.
The reform plan proposed by a gubernatorial commission in August is permeated with "a cavalier attitude that assumes teachers are not trying hard enough," Jane Stern, president of the Maryland State Teachers Association, told a hearing of the...