ANTHONY BROWN, DOUG GANSLER, AND HEATHER MIZEUR RECEIVE AIR TIME BECAUSE ALL OF THEM INTEND TO PUSH THESE REFORMS THROUGH. CINDY WALSH FOR GOVERNOR IS SILENCED BECAUSE SHE WILL STOP THEM.
I have had the pleasure of campaigning across Maryland in this election for Governor of Maryland and many people agree with my platform. Whether republican or democrat the need to rebuild and strengthen democratic structures is foremost. One of the cornerstones of democracy is public education and equal opportunity and access and this is under attack as is all public services and programs. Race to the Top and Common Core are autocratic policies meant to dismantle public education along with Trans Pacific Trade Pact taking away our status of citizen. Why educate 90% of the people with humanities and liberal arts -----preparing them to be citizens when TPP ends the US Constitutional rights of people as citizens the 1% says?
I'll take the next few days talking about education reform. Common Core has become so toxic as a policy that states like Maryland trying to push these policies through no matter what are going to rename the policy to avoid citizen's anger. All meetings and public forums are so guarded and controlled to limit the majority of citizens from having their concerns aired publicly one can see the autocratic nature of these policies simply in their implementation.
Why the concern for Common Core? An autocratic society must control wealth, communications, information, and build structures for spying and surveillance to allow a small group of people to control hundreds of millions of people. Common Core has as a goal to standardize what all students in America learn and that standardization happens with the people at the top....global corporations. We keep hearing that Common Core is simply a method of teaching even as schools bring in one education business after another to implement these policies with suggested lists of what needs to be covered. Online lessons written by these same people are now being installed in schools across America.
Standardization of STEM classes with Common Core is a misnomer. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics is already standardized because they are subjects based on factual information. THEY ARE ALREADY STANDARDIZED. So, what is next? Our humanities and liberal arts.....history, social studies, civics, literature, music, and arts. Remember, America is a plurality and democracy is all about freedom of thought, speech, and action within Rule of Law. Every region of the country has its own ideas about what frames all of these subjects and it is what makes for a rich cultural experience and allows democracy to work. China on the other hand standardizes all information given in schools to students and is very autocratic with no democracy.
THIS EDUCATION REFORM IS TAKING US TO A CHINESE-STYLE AUTOCRACY.
Below is a great video explanation of Common Core concerns. Note that corporations are trying to make this controversy seem conservative republican -----but all citizens are becoming aware and outraged over this usurping of our democratic education system.
Part 1 of 5 Stop the Common Core
NoTo CommonCore·15 videos
Published on Nov 12, 2012
Copyrighted material. Not authorized to download and reproduce on DVDs. Order DVDs at stopcommoncore.com.
The video below is well known in Maryland but we need to remember what it represents. I was right next to this gentleman at this meeting, indeed I am in the video trying to keep him from being hauled out of the event. This public meeting allowed no questions from the audience----rather, it directed questions to be written and then the moderator chose what would be asked----and directed the 'panel' how to answer. THIS IS WHAT AUTOCRATIC SOCIETIES LOOK LIKE FOLKS.
In Baltimore they go so far as creating Coalitions of education privatization organizations whose voice is the only one media will allow on camera.
See why it is so important to make the race for governor only about those candidates who will move these policies forward?
Now they’re arresting people who complain about the Common Core
September 23, 2013 2:32 AM Daily Caller
.A YouTube video went viral over the weekend showing a parent who got violently arrested for expressing his frustrations about the implementation of the Common Core at a public forum Thursday night in the suburbs of Baltimore.
Somehow, Ellicott City parent Robert Small was then charged with assaulting a police officer in the second degree, reports The Baltimore Sun.
Small stood up out of order during a question-and-answer forum held by the Maryland State Department of Education. He interrupted Dallas Dance, the Baltimore County School Superintendent. Small explained — calmly, though not particularly fluidly — his belief that the Common Core lowers standards of education for children in the district.
“You are not preparing them for Harvard,” he said.
The irate parent, who has a sixth-grader and a second-grader and in Howard County, Md. schools, asserted that the new curriculum will only prepare students for community college.
This fall, for the first time, 45 states and the District of Columbia have begun implementing Common Core State Standards Initiative, which attempts to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.
Criticism of the Common Core has risen sharply. Opposition has brought together conservatives who stand athwart a federal takeover of public education and leftists who deplore ever-more standardized testing.
The plan for the question-and-answer forum was for attendees write their questions down on pieces of paper. Then, Dance and the Maryland State Superintendent of Schools, Lillian Lowery, would answer them.
After Small spoke for perhaps a few minutes, a security guard confronted him. A police report alleges that Small tried to push the guard away when the guard initially confronted him.
The video does not appear to show Small pushing the guard.
“Let’s go. Let’s go,” the security guard said.
“Let him ask his question,” someone yelled.
To audible gasps, the guard then pulled the 46-year-old father aggressively in the direction of the aisle.
As the guarded escorted Small out of the forum, Small said “Don’t stand for this. You are sitting here like cattle.” Then he asked, “Is this America?”
According to The Sun, Small was then handcuffed and forced to sit on the curb outside until police showed up to take him to a local police station. He was finally released around 3 a.m.
The charge against Small, second-degree assault of a police officer, carries a maximum fine of $2,500 and a prison term of up to 10 years. Another charge, disturbing a school operation, carries a $2,500 fine and six months in prison.
“Look, I am being manhandled and shut down because I asked inconvenient questions,” Small told The Sun on Friday. “Why won’t they allow an open forum where there can be a debate? We are told to sit there and be lectured to about how great Common Core is.”
Small added that he himself attended a community college before transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park to finish his bachelor’s degree.
The underlining word in these policy roll-outs is 'fear'. In Baltimore where Johns Hopkins controls public policy and is the face of education privatization, schools have been front-loaded with staff dedicated to these privatizing policies. So teacher's unions and administrators feel out-numbered and fearful of losing their jobs if protesting what they do not like. It was an act of courage for Baltimore County Teacher's Association to finally say 'this is not working'. Add school choice to the mix and parents become afraid to complain because it may hurt their child's ability to attend a good school.
Unlike other cities/states that have strong labor and justice activism Maryland is completely captured and silent. That looks to be changing as anger grows.
As this article tells......these reforms are lowering the quality of education for 90% of school children and trying to build a system where only the wealthy have the education we have always given all citizens.
Rebecca Mead: Why Louis C.K.’s Complaints about Common Core Matter
By dianeravitch May 1, 2014
Thank goodness at least one prominent journalist in the mainstream media sends her child to public school!
At Rebecca Mead’s public school, two-thirds of the children opted out of the state tests aligned to Common Core.
So Mead understands the frustration of the comedian Louis C.K., whose tweets about the Common Core tests went viral.
Louis C.K. had more than 3 million Twitter followers so when he spoke out, his voice was unheard, unlike the voices of countless other parents.
The advocates of the Common Core insist that the problems that parents object to are not part of the Common Core but caused by faulty implementation.
(That is the same refrain we always hear about great ideas that fail: faulty implementation.)
Plenty of parents and educators agree with him. After last month’s state tests for English language arts, teachers citywide protested, calling the problems tricky and developmentally inappropriate—as well as questioning the need for three long, consecutive days of testing, no matter the quality of the test materials. Elizabeth Phillips, the principal of P.S. 321, a highly regarded public school in Park Slope, called on members of the State Board of Regents to take the exams themselves: “Afterward, I would like to hear whether they still believed that these tests gave schools and parents valuable information about a child’s reading or writing ability,” she wrote.
This happens to be my most fervent wish: that all legislators and policymakers would take the tests they mandate and publish their scores.
It seems likely that if more parents with the wealth and public profile of Louis C.K. showed their support for public education not by funding charter-school initiatives, as many of the city’s plutocrats have chosen to do, but by actually enrolling their children in public schools, there would long ago have been a louder outcry against the mind-numbing math sheets and assignments that sap the joy from learning. The majority of children in the school system sit in classrooms with far fewer resources than those enjoyed by C.K.’s children, or by mine. The concentration on testing is only another way in which students are short-changed. Educators have been arguing since last spring that the tests are flawed, and that the achievement gap in New York is widening rather than lessening: in 2013, there was a nineteen-per-cent gap between the scores of white and black third graders in the E.L.A. exams, and a fourteen-per-cent gap in math. “Students who already believe they are not as academically successful as their more affluent peers, will further internalize defeat,” Carol Burris, a principal from Rockville Centre, wrote in the Washington Post last summer, calling on policymakers to “re-examine their belief that college readiness is achieved by attaining a score on a test, and its corollary—that is possible to create college readiness score thresholds for eight year olds.” This week, teachers at International High School at Prospect Heights, which serves a population of recently arrived immigrants from non-English-speaking countries, announced that they would not administer an assessment required by the city. A pre-test in the fall “was a traumatic and demoralizing experience for students,” a statement issued by the teachers said. “Many students, after asking for help that teachers were not allowed to give, simply put their heads down for the duration. Some students even cried.” When a comedian points out the way in which the current priorities don’t add up, it earns even the attention of those who haven’t thought much about school since they graduated. But the brutal math of the New York City school system is no laughing matter.
' “Deliverology” is a means to systematically demoralize and humiliate people in lieu of not being able to convince them to pursue a course of action. It is based on the fundamentally flawed idea that an organization or institution can be improved by “incentivizing” people to meet “targets” or what Achieve, Inc., insists educators obsess over: “benchmarks”. It is an autocratic, command-and-control management system that redefines public institutions (such as public schools) as factories, and displays an almost single-minded fixation on cost reduction.. Deliverology is a means for transforming the goal of public institutions from meeting public needs to meeting arbitrary “production” “benchmarks” established by the autocrat under the hoax of saving taxpayer’s money'.
If you look to the article below this one you will get a more light-hearted version of this technical explanation. This article looks at the drivers of these reforms-----cheapening education for most and making it about vocational training K-career college....
ENDING DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION
Big Data, the Common Core, and the Global Governance of Education,
Part 1: Who is Sir Michael Barber? posted in K12, Theory on October 19, 2013 by Mark Garrison SHARE
The Common Core Standards Initiative Flow Chart In this series, I explore the connection between the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI), Big Data and the role these two pillars of current education policy play in governing education beyond the confines of sovereign nation states and their publics. I begin the series by exploring the role of Sir Michael Barber in imposing the Common Core assessment regime and how this relates to the global governance of education.
I have three aims for the series:
- To focus attention on the agenda driving CCSI and “Career and College Ready” policies;
- To elaborate the CCSI agenda as an effort to restructure both the purpose and governance of education across once well-established political geographies, both inside the United States and across the globe.
- To elaborate the thesis that the Core standards were developed in particular to institutionalize national, “life-long,” high-stakes testing, data tracking regimes. These regimes are a means for directing the development and surveillance of labor and the extraction of discrete skills from human populations. These regimes institutionalize anti-public forms for governing the human populations from which this skill is to be extracted, whose publics have been rendered infamous by those now usurping power.
As resistance to high stakes testing grows following the predicted CCSI imposed mass failure, there is a need to analyze the purposes Core aligned tests serve. If I were asked to quickly convey what the CCSI and “college and career ready” agenda is really about, I’d say: Big Data for regulating labor and populations for the narrow benefit of the super rich. If pressed to say even less, I’d say it is about imposing a high-tech form of slavery.
I am well aware that many will bulk at this analysis as extreme and paranoid. But what is really interesting is how even the mildest critiques of the CCSI are met with demonstrations of religious-like, unshakable support for and confidence in the initiative. For a reform credited with promoting critical thinking to evidence so little of that trait in its own promotion and defense is quite striking. Ironically, this patten has caused me to analyze more carefully the significance of not only the CCSI itself, but the manner in which it is being implemented and defended in the wake of criticism.
There is in the present moment a strange genuflection to the Core, even and possibly especially among some who criticize high stakes tests. Who has not heard during a faculty meeting or public presentation the view that there are “some good things in the Common Core standards.” It seems almost mandatory that someone express such a sentiment during meetings of educators and parents. And in these circumstances even critics of the CCSI find themselves offering the conditioned nod in agreement with that sentiment, as if to do otherwise would violate some deep, unspoken norm and admit to being “unreasonable.”
It seems to be lost on many that this is not a proper way to evaluate something. One does not evaluate something by examining its parts in isolation from one other, highlighting only the elements they like. Nor does one offer serious counter critique by indicating they like what they read on page 54; as if the Core’s ostensible support for an emphasis on mathematical understanding and not just the ability to calculate were enough to render judgment about the entire initiative and dismiss the serious concerns with what those who control the CCSI are up to.
One should instead work to understand the parts and their interrelationships, and the relationship of this whole with its social context. This method enables one to render an overall evaluation. It keeps one from getting lost in the forest by directing one to not fixate only on his or her favorite tree.
To make the point more explicitly, the irrationality of “there are some good things” method of argument can be seen in the following example:
- It is good that trains run on time. Or, it is good that students explain how and why they arrived at a conclusion.
- Under Mussolini, the trains ran on time. Under the Gates-Duncan regime, students are asked to explain their answers.
- Fascism should be supported. The dictate of the super rich and the feds over democratically elected forms of governance should be accepted.
The method of the above “logic” is to cull out and separate one feature of a whole so as to hide and/or justify the essence of that whole. This is disinformation.
All this means that it is vital that we continue to examine not only the tools of the current reforms — standards, tests and data — but that we must also work to discern the aim for which these tools were developed.
One last introductory note is required: to dismiss opposition to the Core as a nutty right-wing hissy fit is a sad attempt by “special interests” to derail a growing grassroots movement of parents and educators who are acting on the basis of their own investigation and conviction that they have a right to have a say over the content and form of schooling their children are mandated to attend. These forces have already identified a key problem with the Core and the “college and career ready” agenda: it is undemocratic and those leading it are acting with impunity. This truth is now self-evident to many, especially given the recent experience New Yorkers have had with their state education officials.
Who is Sir Michael Barber? What has a Knighted British citizen to do with directing national-level education efforts in the United States, let alone the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI)? While the roles Bill Gates and Achieve, Inc. have played in designing and imposing the CCSI are relatively well documented, the role of Barber, a Pearson executive, is not. And while Person is the Dark Star to many educators and parents, little has been written about the role it and McKinsey & Company play in the global governance of education. Study of Barber helps us understand the links between all these entities and sheds more light on the real purpose of the CCSI and the “college and career ready” agenda of which it is a part.
Originally a history teacher, Barber became active in the National Union of Teachers in England. He went on to serve as Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education on School Standards during Tony Blair’s first term as British Prime Minister. Tony Blair and his counterpart Bill Clinton lead what has been dubbed the “Third Way” movement. While presented as “left of center,” experience suggests otherwise, with “privatization with a strong state” (or “market fascism”) being its key strategic aim. Barber went on to serve as the Chief Adviser on Delivery, reporting directly to Blair. “As head of the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit (PMDU), he was responsible for working with government agencies to ensure successful implementation of the Prime Minister’s priority programs,” including those in health, education, and policing. Destruction of the public sector as “we knew it” was the main objective.
Barber became a Partner at McKinsey & Company, working there from 2005 until 2011 (David Coleman also worked at McKinsey during this time). He served as head of McKinsey’s global education practice. “He co-authored two major McKinsey education reports: How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (2010) and How the world’s best-performing schools come out on top (2007).” Barbers reports are worth reading, actually, as they provide a broader understanding of what “reformers” are up to.
Barber is now Pearson’s chief education strategist. One area of focus is privatization, what is dubbed “affordable learning.” Pearson renders it this way: “Finding business models for affordable schools and other educational solutions in developing areas of the world, to help meet United Nations goals of universal primary education and to raise achievement.”
The main method to achieve these goals is called “deliverology”.
What is Deliverology? Deliverology. Haven’t heard of it? Well, even if you haven’t, you have experienced this marvel of modern science, especially if you work in education or healthcare. And as you’ve probably guessed, its “invention” is credited to Sir Michael Barber.
“Deliverology” is a means to systematically demoralize and humiliate people in lieu of not being able to convince them to pursue a course of action. It is based on the fundamentally flawed idea that an organization or institution can be improved by “incentivizing” people to meet “targets” or what Achieve, Inc., insists educators obsess over: “benchmarks”. It is an autocratic, command-and-control management system that redefines public institutions (such as public schools) as factories, and displays an almost single-minded fixation on cost reduction.. Deliverology is a means for transforming the goal of public institutions from meeting public needs to meeting arbitrary “production” “benchmarks” established by the autocrat under the hoax of saving taxpayer’s money.
Since the “Texas Miracle” was exposed as a myth, we have seen so-called target culture decrease the quality of education in the U.S. As another example, see this video of John Seddon’s address to the California Faculty Association. The California State University system has employed “deliverology” since 2010. The link in that context to the dramatic increases in tuition and cuts in service to the adoption of deliverology is unmistakable.
As it is premised on the factory model, deliverology redefines people as products to be consumed. The head of the Business Roundtable (BRT) said as much during a New York Times interview of leading architects of anti-public education. BRT President John Engler said: “All the products of K-12 system are either going to go to the university or they are going to the work force. The military is not here, but they’re not very different.”
Deliverology as a method is especially suited for organizing what Barber calls “irreversible transformation”. “Target culture” is really the imposition of behavior management regimes. In the U.S. we call these behavior management regimes “accountability.”
Barber and Vicky Phillips (of the Gates Foundation) explain their theory of change that guides deliverology in the following way:
There is a popular misconception about the process of change. It is often assumed that the key to successful change is “to win hearts and minds.” If this is the starting point then the first steps in the process of change are likely to be consultation and public relations campaigns…The popular conception is wrong. Winning hearts and minds is not the best first step in any process of urgent change. Beliefs do not necessarily change behavior. More usually it is the other way around — behaviors shape beliefs. Only when people have experienced a change do they revise their beliefs accordingly…Sometimes it is necessary to mandate the change, implement it well, consciously challenge the prevailing culture and then have the courage to sustain it until beliefs shift…The driving force at this critical juncture is leadership..
Thus, deliverology appears to be a means for imposing behavior modification techniques that are ultimately aimed at yielding a change in beliefs; irreversible change here seems to be at least in part about people learning to accept product status, that is, as having no rights. Indeed, broad cultural and political shifts are required if that is how social life is to be organized.
In case the point might get lost, it is this: if people do not grasp the larger agenda, they will find themselves agitating for tests that more reliably render the “value of educational products” – and my guess is reformers will be happy to comply with such demands. This in turn may be mistakenly rendered by some as a victory.
But there is no way to “accurately measure” the “value” of humans-as-products because humans are not products! Humans reject being rendered as things. This is the philosophical basis of the popular slogan that children are more than test scores. It is for this reason, again, that the agenda behind the tests must be carefully discerned. Popularizing the technical shortcomings of the tests absent an analysis of the political context in which they operate will not yield to positive change.
Deliverology is Guiding Common Core Implementation What few realize is that Barber is driving the implementation of the Common Core, and especially the assessment component, through the U.S. Delivery Institute. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Delivery Institute applies “deliverology” to implement the Core. A review of the “Common Core Implementation Workbook” suggests Barber (Pearson) is directing the way in which New York and other states are handling not only implementation, but “pushback.”
This simple fact challenges the idea that the only problem with the CCSI is how it is being implemented. Barber’s (and thus Pearson’s) role, along with McKinsey and Coleman, show that implementation has been carefully crafted and is consistent with the goals of the CCSI and “career and college ready” agenda.
There is nothing wrong with adding rigor and accountability to our education system.....everyone agrees the education reforms of the 1980-1990s deliberately removed all rigor and accountability giving us children not knowing math or how to read. Remember, it was the same group of people giving us these reforms in Reagan/Clinton era that took textbooks out of the classroom because they 'stifled' creativity and allowed calculators be used by children just learning math because they said all people will need to do now is push a button for a solution-----these are the policies that created our achievement problems today. IT WAS A DELIBERATE MOVE TO DISMANTLE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION SYSTEM AND ACHIEVEMENT IN THE WORLD. We simply need to go back to the models we had before Reagan/Clinton.
Having people's angst hit mainstream comedy means citizens are now seeing they are not alone as mainstream media has blocked all dissent of these education policies and only speak of the continued roll-out.
Americans need to note which media outlets are falling into line with this media blockade of dissent. Public media leads the way because it was captured by corporate interests. Your taxpayer money is now being used to support 'public' programming that does nothing but support Bill Gates and the Walton Foundation behind all this privatization.
MAKE SURE YOUR PUBLIC MEDIA IS WORKING FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST! WE MUST HAVE AN AVENUE FOR OUR VOICE!
If you’ve lost Louis C.K. and Chuck Norris, have you lost America?
Both the acerbic comedian and the action star-turned-activist have come down hard on the Common Core academic standards, which were once widely hailed as a bipartisan success story but are now drawing fire from liberals and conservatives alike.
The debate over the standards has roiled political campaigns and dominated education policy debates for more than a year. Now it’s rocketing into pop culture — and opponents hope that will prove a tipping point.
The latest flash point came this week when Louis C.K. tweeted to his 3.3 million followers: “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!” He followed that with several pictures of third-grade math problems he deemed incomprehensible or just plain dumb. Within a day, his original protest had been re-tweeted more than 7,000 times. He kept going Thursday evening, tweeting: “Kids teachers parents are vocally suffering. Doesnt that matter? listen to them. Adapt and slow down CCSS. Cool it with the testing.”
The tweets point to a serious liability for the Common Core. Proponents desperately want to focus attention on the goal of raising academic standards and preparing American students to compete in a global economy. But parents want to talk about their children sobbing over nonsensical homework and vomiting from test-day jitters — and those are the stories that resonate, especially on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert picked up on all that social media angst and amplified it with a segment a few weeks ago that ridiculed befuddling math questions. Judy Blume, Maya Angelou and Matt Damon have also weighed in with critiques on standardized testing.
The populist attack on Common Core isn’t always fair: Some of the most widely mocked examples of so-called Common Core math were featured in textbooks and used in classrooms long before the standards were introduced. The blame for some of the confusing assignments rests on individual teachers, not the standards, which lay out what children should learn in each grade but don’t presume to dictate lesson plans or homework. And high-stakes testing was introduced long before the Common Core — and is stressful for some kids regardless of what the exams cover.
Opposition activist Jim Stergios says he would prefer to focus on more sober-minded critiques of the “mediocre quality, dubious legality and outsized costs” of the Common Core. But he can’t say he’s displeased that complaints about the standards have become a pop culture meme.
“You know that discomfort and even outright opposition has reached a critical mass when the core becomes a frequent punch line in the repertoire of late-night comedians,” said Stergios, executive director of the Pioneer Institute, a Boston think tank.
And supporters acknowledge, with considerable frustration, that the campaign is taking a toll.
“What harms the cause for improving education in this country is the attempt by the opposition and the media, who should know better, to perpetuate these misunderstandings, until eventually people think they are truths, ”said Cheryl Oldham, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Take, for instance, the Common Core exams.
They were introduced with great fanfare as the next generation of standardized tests. They require students to write more, to analyze complex texts and, in some cases, to perform hands-on experiments in the classroom. Backers hoped parents would embrace them as far more challenging and meaningful than the traditional fill-in-the-bubble multiple choice.
But because of all those new components, the exams are longer than many states’ former assessments. They’re taken on computers, which this spring have proved vulnerable to crashes, server outages and even cyberterrorism.
Common Core exams are graded on a far tougher curve, leading to huge failure rates in states that adopted them last year. And to top it all off, the recent tests given to students in New York featured questions studded with brand names like Nike and iPod, raising concerns about commercialization.
Any parents who saw benefits in the new exams were swiftly drowned out by the chorus of protests on social media.
By the tens of thousands, parents have refused to let their children take the tests. They have taken to social media to explain why. And their fury has seeped into pop culture.
Colbert aired a series of clips of parents explaining how the tests had rattled and stressed their children. His wry conclusion: “Common Core testing is preparing students for what they’ll face as adults — pointless stress and confusion.”
If you really think these education reforms are about quality and achievement......look at the steady decline in Federal and state funding and the handover of school funding to corporate donation. As we see below in Baltimore they are now pulling away once this private structure is in place!
THESE SCHOOLS WILL BE DEFUNDED ONCE PRIVATIZATION GETS HOLD AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS DISAPPEAR.
School funding falls short for city gifted programs International Baccalaureate and Ingenuity Project could face substantial reductions
Darius Johnson says he's just an ordinary student, presented with an educational opportunity in his freshman year of high school that led him to extraordinary choices: Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Duke, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford and Washington universities, the University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth College.
The senior at Polytechnic Institute is among the gifted students who have worked their way through the Ingenuity Project, one of two programs that have given Baltimore students a competitive edge in college admissions but now face funding cuts in the city's tightest schools budget in decades.
After years of declining funding, and now a new round of cuts the school board is proposing for next year's budget, schools that host Ingenuity and the International Baccalaureate are looking for alternative sources of money or holding out hope that district leaders will see the value of offerings proven to bring out the best in the brightest students.
Johnson, a first-generation college student raised by a single mother, plans to head to Harvard next year on a Gates-Millennium scholarship, which is to cover his education through a doctorate.
Johnson applied to Ingenuity as a freshman — not because he was "naturally gifted," he said, but because he needed focus. By sophomore year, he was researching a new therapy for HIV patients at Johns Hopkins.
"The work is hard," he said. "But as much as we give in hard work, they give back in opportunity. I hope kids who come after me get the same opportunities."
Ingenuity, a program that engages students at Poly and Roland Park Elementary/Middle and other high-performing schools in a rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum and research, is one of the budget items that school officials are asking the school board to fund with emergency reserves. The board has rejected that request.
Board members are scheduled to vote on a budget next month.
The Ingenuity program, which serves 534 students in four schools, is also facing a major fundraising hurdle, due in part to dwindling funding from the school system in the last five years.
Next year, it would have to raise more than $600,000, and would require Roland Park to pay a per-pupil fee next year for the first time.
Other schools have paid the $100-per-pupil fee. Roland Park has made financial contributions in other ways: paying for full-time Ingenuity staff, helping maintain the program's computer lab, and funding trips.
Principal Nicholas D'Ambrosio said the school would need to raise money to help cover the roughly $18,000 check the school would have to cut to pay the per-pupil charge next year.
The International Baccalaureate program, available at City College, Mount Washington and Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle, offers an internationally recognized curriculum known for its rigor and global focus. It's slated for budget cuts next year in two of the schools.
Mount Washington's IB program is set to receive $100,000 next year, down $31,000 from last year. And the budget at City College, which runs two programs, will decrease by $34,000 to $200,000.
Thomas Jefferson is set for a funding increase, because years of underfunding put the school at risk for losing its IB designation.
The school system says that its scaled-back support for Ingenuity and IB is part of a long-term plan.
"In order to ensure there is a diverse portfolio of school options for students to choose from, City Schools is committed to supporting schools in initiating programs, such as IB and Ingenuity," the district said in a statement.
"However, the intent is that over a period of time these programs will become self-sustainable" through individual school budgets and community partnerships.
The Ingenuity program was started in 1993 by the Abell Foundation, which has continued to financially back the program every year since. Ingenuity officials said the goal was for the program to eventually be fully funded by the school system.
But data show that in the last five years, contributions from the school system have dropped, from $420,000 in 2010 to a proposed $368,000 next year. Next year, the Abell Foundation plans to cut its funding to Ingenuity by $100,000 in order to spread money to other philanthropic causes.
"It's been a tremendously successful program, and we think it's something that the school system should really be doing," said Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the Abell Foundation
Dolores Costello, executive director of Ingenuity, said the program posts good results — 95 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges, and 90 percent graduate in four years — but it still falls short in areas she said are pertinent to its growth.
Costello said the program could be strengthened by offering professional development for teachers and giving students more opportunity to conduct research in high school. It also needs to expand its services to underrepresented students, such as Hispanic students, who make up just 2 percent of its enrollment.
"We're always working to improve, but funding is limiting all of this," she said.
More importantly, Costello said, the city should invest in its advanced students, as it does in its struggling students.
"This program was designed for students like Darius," she said. "There's an idea that they'll all get along anyway, but the question is, would they be doing as well?"
At City, Principal Cindy Harcum said, students who show that they challenge themselves in the International Baccalaureate program certainly have an edge over their peers. When the 46-year-old program, which operates in 147 countries, shows up on a transcript, she said, it gets a second look.
In recent years, Harcum said, district officials have asked the school to ensure that it is living up to its mission of preparing students for college, and the IB program is a major avenue to do so.
"The return on investment is amazing," Harcum said. "This is a ticket that helps kids get into the selective admission schools, and the money to go to them. Especially for those kids who are first-generation college students, who only hear about going to college around the corner, suddenly, the world has opened up to them completely."
Next year, about 60 percent of the senior class at City is slated to take two or more IB courses.
Unlike Advanced Placement, in which students earn credit by taking an exam, IB credits require labs, investigations, oral arguments, and written papers. Harcum said City's IB program has posted results comparable to those of private schools.
Fifty-six percent of City's IB diploma candidates last year earned a diploma from the program — which requires a slate of advanced courses and exams — compared with 58 percent at St. Paul's School for Boys.
City offers the program to all of its students. Harcum said the school needs an additional $54,000 to cover registration fees, exam fees and training for IB teachers to sustain and grow the program.
"What I would hate to do is sell this to everybody, and then not have enough dollars to back it up," she said.
The financial struggles afflicting programs for gifted students also come amid an increased demand by parents for the district to add the programs to their schools and to enhance those already in place.
Kimberly Moffitt, head of the parent-teacher organization at Thomas Jefferson Elementary/Middle, confronted the school board over the school receiving less funding in recent years than other IB schools — even though it runs the only elementary/middle school program in the state.
"We embraced IB as a community and committed to letting our babies know that there's a lot more that happens in this world outside of what happens in Baltimore City," she said.
Moffitt said the school risked being found noncompliant because it didn't have enough money for required staff, such as an art teacher. After paying required expenses to maintain its designation, the school would have $5,000 to $10,000 to run programs for its 515 students.
"IB is extensive to learn and expensive to maintain, and the district seemed to be running on a shoestring budget to make this happen," she said. "We do it OK, but we could do well."
The school is expected to receive $87,500 in additional funding this year, for a total budget of $200,000, which school officials said aims to ensure an "equitable distribution of funds."
That's welcome news for Jamar Taylor, an eighth-grader at Thomas Jefferson, who chose to attend the school when he moved back from China, where wealthy students attended IB schools.
Taylor said the global perspective at Thomas Jefferson made it easier to transition back to an American school.
"Everyone was a lot more open-minded about my experience," he said. "At another school, they may have made fun of me for living in China, but here they were interested in hearing about the pros and the cons."
He plans to attend Baltimore School for the Arts in the fall. What attracted him to the premier high school was that it was a place he could stand out for thinking differently.
Cutting-edge programs such as IB are what more parents across Baltimore are seeking to keep them invested in the city school system, said Brendan O'Brien, the parent of a first-grader and a third-grader at Federal Hill Preparatory School.
The school's parent-teacher organization campaigned to begin the IB application process this year. O'Brien said the district did not issue a letter of support for the school, which delayed its application. School officials said they never received a proposal.
"It's a wonderful program," he said. "It gets kids thinking outside their own neighborhood. And to have a name-brand program in our neighborhood, it does a lot for all aspects of our life. We want to be able to stand out."