Maryland public agencies. Wonder if there is bias? We don't need Maryland citizens exposed to all that public school data! So, an International corporation with an office in Maryland is doing the research for all of this education policy. How do you do a Freedom of Information Act request for data collected by a global corporation? YOU DO NOT.
There is Westat-----part of the Wall Street international data corporation complex.
Improving Lives Through Research™
is one of the foremost professional service corporations of its
kind—the gold standard of social science research, statistical
analysis, and evidence-based communications.
research, technical, and administrative staff of more than 2,000 are
located at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, near Washington,
Depending on the number of active projects at any time,
up to several thousand data collection and processing staff work at
Westat's survey processing facilities, at the Telephone Research Center
facilities, and at data collection sites throughout the nation. Westat
also maintains research offices near its clients in Atlanta, Georgia;
Durham, North Carolina; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; and Houston, Texas. The company has
international offices in Beijing, China; San José, Costa Rica; Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia; New Delhi, India; Johannesburg, South Africa; and
Below you see yet again Westat this time as WestEd leading in evaluating the evaluation policy. You see as well a good question being asked by the Maryland teachers being subjected to corporate education policy -------this is what has happened to education policy in Maryland and it involves privatizing all aspects of education ----from writing policy to analyzing education policy----to creating corporate non-profits to advocate for these Race to the Top and Common Core policies. So, let's move forward with how the assessment of Baltimore City Schools looks since this 1997 takeover of our school board.
'The center worked in collaboration with WestEd, an education consulting and research organization, to do the analysis, which was presented to the Maryland State Department of Education on Tuesday'.
Why aren't we evaluating O'Malley and Alonso by teacher votes?
This is my fifth year teaching in Baltimore. In the beginning, I shared the same ideology that O'Malley and Alonso shared. "Why can't ALL kids do better?" Five years later, I challenge Mr. Alonso and O'Malley to teach in a city school surrounded with blue lights. They won't even let their OWN children step into those classroom for a day. Dr. Alonso was an ESOL teacher. Which means, he taught kids that WANTED to be there. O'Malley.. has never had a day of teaching in his life.
Did you guys know, Obama's secretary of education, Arne Duncan, had ZERO days of teaching under his belt? Would you want a doctor that has never worked at a clinic with sick patients? How about a construction worker who is not certified?
Come on, gentleman. If you don't know jack about our trade, I think you should get your shoes wet a little, before passing laws for us!
Michelle Rhee------Wall Street privatization education policy queen and namesake for Baltimore's Education reform found to be lying about her accomplishments:
'Another common criticism disputes her assertion that she dramatically increased students' average scores from the 13th percentile to the 90th, a statement that could not be verified during her confirmation process for D.C. Schools Chancellor as the relevant Baltimore records could not be located'
THIS IS THE BACKDROP FOR ALL OF THE ANALYSIS CITIZEN'S OF BALTIMORE HAVE AS TO HOW THESE EDUCATION REFORMS CONTROLLED BY STATE APPOINTED SCHOOL BOARD ARE GOING.
As the teacher's comment above indicates none of these education policies and the evaluations developed ask or answer the questions or state the goals of the parents and citizens as regards these education reforms-----these global corporations involved in evaluating simply ask the same questions that the corporate reformers made central to education reform. So, once again----the public's concerns with education are not addressed in this evaluation that supposedly justifies having the state appoint a school board and whether that school board is doing a good job for the citizens and their education. Of course, corporate research firms always state that they conclude that everything is going fine even as the entire education reform effort in Baltimore is a mess with very few improvements. Baltimore now has a few schools that can be said to be funded and actually providing the resources needed for the children that happen to be in affluent communities like Roland Park and Mt Washington.
THE EVALUATION OF THESE POLICIES ARE DEVELOPED ASKING JUST THE SAME QUESTIONS AS THE CORPORATE EDUCATION POLICY GROUPS----
Please take a look---the report is too long to post but if you look closely much of this evaluation indicates that much of the problems identified in 2001 still exist. There has been almost no education quality installed----only the closing and restructuring of schools as businesses.
House Bill 853 Evaluation of Improvements in the Baltimore City Public School System School Years 2001-2002 to 2006-2007
Final Report Volume IPrepared for the Baltimore City Public School System Board of School Commissioners and the Maryland State Board of Education
May 3, 2008
EVALUATION OF IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BCPSS BONHAM RESEARCH &PARAKLETE CONSULTING -1- FINAL,VOL.I(5/3/2008) Authors and AcknowledgmentsEvaluation TeamGordon Scott Bonham, Ph.D., Bonham Research, Principal Evaluator Sandra Bonham, B.S., Bonham Research Linda F. Gorham, Ph.D., Paraklete Consulting. LLC, Co-Evaluator Joy G. Hervey, Ed.D., Paraklete Consulting, LLC Nicole R. Lewis, Ph.D., Paraklete Consulting, LLC Michael Thomas, B.S., BANKK Management Systems
Now, if you attend Baltimore City School Board meetings in which 11 people from the 650,000 citizens are allowed to speak each month you will hear the only avenue the citizens of Baltimore have to vent their discontent with these school reforms and none of what they say is reported -----only the results of these corporate audits that always say the policies are the way to go. Below you see that this partnership states that the mechanism for communication with the public and stakeholders like parents are supposed to be built and as you see as well----that has not happened. From 1997 to 2014 it seems that failure to meet major goals for state control is accepted and given a passing grade.
1.010 Continue the City-State Partnership
Summary of context and meaning
The City-State Partnership was established in 1997 by Maryland State Senate Bill (SB) 795. The partnership removed the school system from control by the Office of the Mayor and established a new relationship between Baltimore City and the State of Maryland to improve the Baltimore schools. The partnership also resulted in the establishment of a nine-member New Board of School Commissioners jointly appointed by the mayor and the governor. Westat found that this EVALUATION OF IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BCPSS BONHAM RESEARCH &PARAKLETE CONSULTING -56- FINAL,VOL.I(5/3/2008) Board played a major role in the progress of the school system during the evaluation period and, therefore, recommended that the Board be continued. Westat also reported that, based on the analysis of financial experts, a funding shortfall existed for the school system and the need for continued state aid remained. The importance of state aid is highlighted in the recent MGT of America (2007) Interim Report which indicates that the majority of superintendents of local school systems in Maryland view state aid as having the greatest impact on improving student achievement.
1.011 – Continue New Board of School Commissioners
Summary of strategies and initiatives. Based on the context of this recommendation (see preceding paragraph) and the fact that the New Board of School Commissioners has indeed continued since its initial establishment in 1997, it was determined that it was not applicable to examine the Master Plan for strategies related to this recommendation. However, it can be noted that in the Executive Summary of the Master Plan, the following information is documented: The Board of School Commissioners is committed to supporting fully the following efforts: •Continuing elementary and secondary reform efforts. •Ensuring that the middle level grades are a springboard to high school success. •Creating a culture in the BCPSS that supports the development of the whole child. •Improving teaching and learning for all special education students. •Developing a culture conducive to full community engagement, contribution, and communication that fosters effective communications and a clearer understanding of all stakeholders. •Supporting and developing school-based leadership and ensuring the quality of senior-level personnel.
1.060 Upgrade Communications Between Administrative Levels and the Schools
Summary of context and meaning Achieving the mission of the BCPSS is highly dependent upon the quality and timeliness of the information shared between the central office and the schools and upon fostering a collegial environment. Survey and interview responses from the Westat (2001) study indicated problems in the information sharing process, particularly in the timely provision of budget information to school staff. 1.061 – Improve process of providing financial data to schools and general public Summary of strategies and initiatives. The Master Plan refers to the reporting of budget information to the public in one strategy that involves public forums sponsored during the year by the Office of Parental, Family, and Community Involvement; the budget was mentioned in the Master Plan Status Report as one of the forum topics. However, there are no Master Plan strategies related to reporting financial data to schools.
So, Maryland has a Federal Education policy written by corporations sent to the state and implemented with Baltimore having a unique opportunity to have no public say and the most corporate of school boards and the only means of determining if all of this is successful is evaluation and research vehicles written by global corporate data firms using the corporate goals for assessment and they think everything is going OK. This is to what Baltimore citizens are tied in seeking independence from this 1997 state control of our school board.
'If you have watched as I have all the craziness in the City School Board decisions over the last 10 years -- closing this school, moving students to another one, opening this one, closing this one, saying that this one will be renovated, then changing their minds, you will get it why students and families feel displaced, ignored, and less than in the eyes of the School Board decision makers. Read the BREW article here and see a fabulous picture of three Baltimore Algebra project youth - Tre In-God I-Trust Murphy , Jamal Jones and Will Murphy who were there to testify against the recently announced decision to close Heritage High School (at Lake-Clifton Eastern)'.
Below you hear from a group called the Algebra Project who worked as hard as anyone could to get that funding needed for these public schools to stay open and indeed----there is plenty of funding----but as they state below----this is not about education-----it is about development. Schmoke knew this in 1997 and O'Malley knew this in 2004-----AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE CHILDREN.
SHOW ME THE MONEY SAYS JOHNS HOPKINS AND THEIR POLS IN BALTIMORE CITY HALL AND MARYLAND ASSEMBLY!
The speed that these reforms are being implemented are predicated by the knowledge that the more time citizens have to organize the more likely these reforms will be stopped----Baltimore is one of the slowest in organizing because most of the labor and justice organizations are silenced by capture. The other bullet these education privatizers are up against is the coming economic crash and the bond market collapse----remember, all of these closings and building projects are tied to credit bond leverage deals that will default with the coming crash and these Wall Street pols need to have this construction in process before the coming crash. All of the school buildings tied to these Wall Street credit bonds will be newly built and default into the hands of the investment firms----privatized school property.
“We feel displaced” Opponents of school closures pack a city school board meeting. "It's not just academic," says one about the impact of shuttered schools on students and communities.
Danielle Sweeney December 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm Story Link 2
Heritage High supporters, the Algebra Project’s Will Murphy, Jamal Jones and Tre Murphy.
Photo by: Danielle Sweeney
More than a hundred people came to Baltimore school headquarters last night to tell the board the decisions they are making about school closures and relocations will impact students’ lives in more ways than they know.
Jamal Jones, a leader of the Baltimore Algebra Project, came to protest the closure of Heritage High School in Northeast Baltimore.
The facility, located in the Lake Clifton Complex, is being closed primarily for poor performance. Some speakers said students would be losing more than a nearby source of classroom instruction.
“It’s not just academic,” said Jones, a graduate of city schools. “The Heritage program provides social and emotional supports.”
“The school system needs a way to sustainably phase out students so those supports are maintained,” he added, noting that the Algebra Project, an educational advocacy group, still has testimony to give and will be attending the December 17 meeting where the school board votes on school closings.
The administration has recommended that six schools be closed this summer: Abbottston Elementary, Dr. Rayner Brown Elementary/Middle, Heritage High, Langston Hughes Elementary, Northeast Middle and W.E.B. DuBois High.
Another 12 schools are slated to undergo various changes as part of a “portfolio review,” including five school relocations, five grade reconfigurations, one non-renewal of an operator contract, and one expansion of a special-ed program.
The message from many who testified last night: don’t overlook the positive impact that even poorer performing schools have on students and communities.
Some talked about how transportation will become an obstacle for families faced with the loss of their neighborhood school, while others spoke about how schools provide health care and other social supports that many Baltimore students can’t get elsewhere.
Too Fast, Too Soon
Lillian Hunt said she is frustrated at the speed with which the school system is making decisions about her and her family’s life.
Her son attends Maritime Industries Academy High School, now located on Sinclair Lane in Northeast Baltimore, which is recommended for relocation to Cherry Hill in far South Baltimore to be closer to the waterfront.
“My son has been here for three years. He wants to go into the navy or maritime school. Now the school is moving to the other side of town,” she said.
At a single meeting held about the relocation, she continued, school officials provided one-sentence answers to parents’ questions about the move. She acknowledged that she is worried about her child’s safety in Cherry Hill.
Disturbing People’s Lives
Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton, who represents Northwest’s 6th District, pleaded for Langston Hughes Elementary not to be closed. The former teacher reiterated her concerns about safety, and said the schools that Langston Hughes students would be forced to attend would be more than a mile away.
“The students are safe there, safe from serious problems in the community,” she said.
Langston Hughes has experienced significant drops in enrollment since the announcement of its pending closure. (The closure was originally planned for 2017, but recently moved up.)
Middleton said chronic homelessness afflicts the surrounding community and argued closing the school will only make matters worse for at-times homeless students.
Thornton Needs to Visit
Clezel Farmer, a grandparent of a Vanguard Collegiate Middle School student, told The Brew that she understands the need for change in the school system, but resents the “haphazard” decision-making she feels the school system has made.
“You are moving us from a building that is good to a building that is falling apart,” she said.
Vanguard was originally slated to be renovated in year six of the 21st Century Schools plan, but is now recommended for building closure and its program to be relocated to Northeast Middle School, whose academic program is set to shut down.
Vanguard student Solomon Williams said taking away a school takes away part of a kid’s identity. “Vanguard is a big part of who we are,” he told The Brew after the hearing. “We respect it.”
Second District Councilman Brandon Scott and community leaders have recommended co-locating the schools at the current location of Vanguard and immediately renovating the Northeast Middle building.
“Northeast is a school that is in need of massive renovation that no student should be subjected to,” Scott said, in an emailed statement. “If the purpose of the construction plan is to place students in a better building, then renovating Northeast before any students learn there again goes without saying.”
Farmer put the issue another way: “[School Superintendent Gregory E.] Thornton works on information presented to him. He needs to visit Northeast Middle,” she said.
Farmer believes closing the Vanguard building will impact student’s lives in ways the School Board isn’t unaware of. “It has a fully operational health suite. We have a licensed RN and a physician assistant who comes in. This is the only place some of our kids get medical care. You are taking that away from them.”
How to be a Better Steward
The board asked few questions last night. Instead they yielded the floor to the dozens of parents, community leaders and students who signed up to speak.
Taking in the often critical testimony, David Stone, board vice president, at one point responded to a comment about the school system’s lack of professionalism in communicating the proposed closures and changes.
“Part of being a professional is understanding the money we have,” he said, underscoring the school system’s awkward position. “How can we be better stewards of the money we have? Who should I take the money from?” he asked.
This is an article that speaks to how Baltimore City has education policy and groups providing statistics that never mention the real issues at hand. The major reason for lateness and absenteeism in Baltimore which by the way is growing fast is the education reform in the city that has scores of public schools being closed and parents having to send their children across town to access schools that have funded and resourced programs. So, it is the education policy being implemented in Baltimore that is creating the rise of this very problem they claim they are watching and working to address. Nowhere in this article do you hear this. What is being used are these lateness and absentee stats to limit children's ability to get into certain schools. SEE THE CONFLICT? That is indeed the conditions being created in Baltimore for children racing to find spots as school closures take their community schools away.
As you see the institution leading these studies and data research is Johns Hopkins which is the same institution pushing the education policy that has the state control and corporatized school board ----and school closings as development tool -----so, 100 public schools close-----children in those communities losing these schools are forced onto a public bus system to travel across town to a school that has resources and you know what happens? Young people sometimes choose not to attend every day and/or are late to school----ALL BECAUSE OF POLICY PUSHED BY JOHNS HOPKINS. Remember, back in 1997 attendance to school was a major issue that was supposed to be addressed in this state takeover of our school board-----flash forward to today------it is the school board and its policy that is creating a growing percentage of absenteeism and lateness.
Look as well at Education Week----the journal printing this article. They allow this kind of article and highlight Johns Hopkins and its non-profits all the while knowing the policies that are making these stats grow. This is why Education Week always ranks Maryland #1 -----it is a Bill Gates education privatization journal that loves neo-conservative corporate Hopkins.
Bottom line is that many of these children forced into this system of having to travel outside of their communties to attend school are going to be the ones pushed out by not being able to meet attendance objectives. We are talking about a lot of children with the number of school closings growing. But Hopkins is on record as knowing that absenteeism is a key to student achievement.
Published in Print: October 6, 2010, as
Districts Begin Looking Harder at Absenteeism
Updated: March 23, 2012 Spurred by Statistics, Districts Combat Absenteeism Two children rush to make it to class on time last week at Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore. The district has been at the forefront of efforts to reduce absenteeism in schools. —Stephen Voss for Education Week By Sarah D. Sparks
A growing consensus of research points to chronic absence—defined by the national policy group Attendance Counts as missing 10 percent of school or more—as one of the strongest and most often overlooked indicators of a student’s risk of becoming disengaged, failing courses, and eventually dropping out of school.
“Attendance doesn’t really rise to the top” in school improvement discussions, said Jane Sundius, the director of the Education and Youth Development Program at the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, which coordinates and supports attendance and discipline-related research in the city. “We get into the cycle where [intervention] has to be about student achievement, so we get into the habit of just counting bodies for attendance. But all of a sudden, we have research that shows, in fact, attendance is a really remarkable indicator. It’s easy to understand; it’s available on every child, every week, every day; and it both predicts failure and acts as an early warning alert.”
Percentage of 2008-09 Dropouts Chronically Absent in the Three Years Prior to Dropout
SOURCE: “Gradual Disengagement: A Portrait of the 2008-09 Dropouts in the Baltimore City Schools,” Baltimore Education Research Consortium. Studies by Robert Balfanz, a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; Mariajosé Romero, senior research associate at the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University in New York; Young-Sun Lee, an associate professor of psychology and education at Teachers College at Columbia; and others have found that frequent absences, even as early as the elementary grades, sharply increase a student’s risk of eventually failing and leaving school.
Most districts collect attendance data on their students, but few know what to look for when they review it, said Hedy N. Chang, the director of Attendance Counts, a national policy group, and a co-author of “Present, Engaged, and Accounted For,” a 2008 report on chronic early absenteeism.
Attendance monitor Deidre Reeder checks attendance at Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore. The district is among several across the country that are stepping up efforts to combat chronic absenteeism. —Stephen Voss for Education Week Compounding the problem, Ms. Chang said, the average daily attendance counts that schools must report as part of state accountability systems can hide chronic absenteeism. Because averages don’t track individual students, dozens of students can miss weeks of school without triggering accountability measures.
She prefers that schools monitor the percentage of time each student spends in school rather than days missed. For example, if a student has missed 10 percent of the first month of school, this handful of days normally would not trigger alarm, but Ms. Chang’s research suggests that the student is still at greater risk of being chronically absent by the end of the year.
“If you’re waiting for a kid to be 20 days absent, by that time it’s too late,” Ms. Chang said. “The whole value of monitoring this is you can see when there’s a problem.”
Causes of chronic absenteeism include illness--asthma is one of the most common—missed buses, broken cars, and just playing hooky. In kindergarten and 1st grade, which have the highest rates of absenteeism outside of high school, parents often let their children stay home because they don’t understand that academic expectations have stepped up in those grades since they were students, Ms. Chang and Ms. Sundius said.
Older students may be more selective about which classes they miss, according to students at Baltimore’s Polytechnic High School who attended a forum on attendance this week.
Ly-Anh McCoy, a Polytechnic senior, argued that students don’t skip the classes of the interesting teachers, the ones who seem to care more about students.
“Kids don’t go to the ones who don’t teach us,” Ms. McCoy said. “Some teachers might show you a problem on the board, but they’re just teaching to the board, they’re not really explaining it to you.”
Gabriel McKinney, a sophomore, added that it’s easy to skip a class here or there, and, while he hasn't, most students he knows do—the adults don’t tend to follow up. “If someone sees you out of class, you might get a detention, but no one tracks you down,” he said.
He said he would like his high school to be more like his middle school, with a few more people checking up on students. “They were really hands-on; they knew all the students,” he said.
Many communities are taking notice. Georgia requires districts to report the percentage of students who miss 15 days or more of school. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in August launched a pilot study of chronic absenteeism aimed at testing five potential interventions at 25 local schools. California’s Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco districts, and a community schools network in Grand Rapids, Mich., have all started initiatives to study and address chronic absenteeism beyond truancy and average daily attendance.
Building Up in Baltimore Most experts say the district furthest along is Baltimore. Maryland requires schools to report any student who misses more than 20 days of school, its official definition of chronic absenteeism. A year ago, district officials, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Education Research Consortium, as well as more than 100 representatives from foundations and corrections and social service agencies, joined forces to create the districtwide Baltimore City Student Attendance Work Group, which studies the problem and suggests solutions.
Researchers in the working group found that more than one in 10 of the district’s elementary students, nearly one in five middle schoolers, and more than 42 percent of high school students missed a month or more of school in 2008-09. Researchers from the consortium, or BERC, at Johns Hopkins released a report in August that found that, among students who dropped out in 2009, absenteeism increased steadily over the three years before they left, while remaining steady for students who graduated.
Ms. Reeder walks 4-year-old Markell Foster to his prekindergarten class at Franklin Square after driving him to school. As part of her job as attendance monitor, Ms. Reeder sometimes transports students to school, drives them to doctors’ appointments, or bangs on students’ doors when they fail to show up for class. —Stephen Voss for Education Week This year, Andrés A. Alonso, the chief executive officer for the Baltimore school district, also released a report showing that chronically absent students scored 15 to 20 percentage points lower on state assessments than did students who attended school more regularly—a bigger achievement gap than the one separating poor students and English language learners from better-performing peer groups.
The district has moved to require an attendance monitor in every school, as well as districtwide incentives for students to come to school more often and education for parents and teachers on the importance of attendance, according to Sue Fothergill, coordinator for the Baltimore City Student Attendance Initiative, which evolved out of the working group.
More recently, Ms. Fothergill and Stephen Plank, research co-director for BERC, said the team has started to sift through the data to find schools that don’t fit the city’s grim attendance statistics.
Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School is one that rose to the top in that analysis. The school is surrounded by boarded-up buildings; an average of nine out of 10 of its students live in poverty; and one in five, on average, is highly mobile, yet the school boasts daily attendance above 96 percent and test scores above the state average. Principal Terry Patton and her staff weave attendance strategies into every part of the school. They track any child who has missed a day, and they look for patterns, both for individual students and across classes.
Deidre Reeder, an attendance monitor at Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School, makes her first of three rounds at 8 a.m., ducking into classrooms to check attendance. For the students who aren’t there, she gets on the phone to parents, grandparents, whoever is available. “I call every parent, ask them the reason why they are absent, and tell them we need a note, and tell them we are striving for 100 percent attendance this year,” she said.
“If some children have missed a day or two, then I go out and get in my truck, because I know I’m going to be making a stop,” Ms. Reeder said. “People will hear me knocking on the door, and the kids just start getting dressed.”
She lives in the community, has a child in the school, and she and the rest of the office staff take no excuses.
During the H1N1 flu outbreak last year, Ms. Patton called the doctor of any child who called in sick to confirm the diagnosis. The school also has partnered with the Total Health Care clinic across the street to provide classes on asthma prevention and to help students get health appointments close to school. Staff members often walk students to appointments rather than have parents keep the child home.
For students habitually late or absent, the school holds focus groups of students and parents and sends out regular surveys to talk about problems that prevent regular attendance. Some parents haven’t been able to get their children up and dressed on time, or they have run out of clean school uniforms. So now, the office provides alarm clocks to families that don’t have them. It keeps spare uniforms and a washer and dryer for students; it partnered with a local barber to offer haircuts and grooming each Monday.
“I can’t wait until it gets to the point where we can track everything about the child right away, so we don’t lose so much time and we can react right away,” Ms. Patton said.
The district and its partners are moving to increase that sort of tracking in other schools, Ms. Fothergill said, with new data dashboards that will give principals and attendance monitors daily and weekly comparisons of their students and the district averages.
The district also is getting the students involved in spreading the word about the importance of school attendance. Ms. McCoy was part of a team of students who developed posters for the district intended to persuade fellow teenagers to attend school regularly. In a warm gym full of antsy middle and high school students at the unveiling of the posters last week, Ms. McCoy got the biggest response to an advertisement relating attendance to earning.
“We know we have to face it every day. Graduating high school and attending college means you’ll make a million more dollars a year,” she explained. “It’s important for students to know that and make conscious choices about coming to school.”
What's up with the stats says this article from a few years back-----I listened to a parent fighting for his son's right to have a recess and to play say that the child wanted time to play on the playground so much----the student took the time allotted for free breakfast to play on the school grounds before school started. The policies that Baltimore are implementing courtesy of corporate policies that have no public input is creating more problems for already at-risk students all under the guise of helping them. All these students needed was a well-funded school and resources. They are getting the opposite.
Remember, free lunch and breakfast was determined to be a solution to achievement for Baltimore schools back in 1997-----the numbers having breakfast are as bad----below you see the stats as to how this policy looked a few years ago.......
August 8, 2007
Bad breakfast stats in Baltimore
According to a new report from the Washington-based Food Research and Action Center, only 39 percent of eligible low-income students in Baltimore took advantage of the free breakfast offered in schools during the 2005-2006 school year. But at schools participating in Maryland Meals for Achievement, which provides breakfast to students in their classrooms rather than requiring them to come in early and go to the cafeteria, 71 percent of kids ate what's so often dubbed the most important meal of the day.
According to FRAC, numerous studies have highlighted the link between breakfast and learning: Kids who eat breakfast perform better on tests, behave better, have fewer visits to the school nurse, and are less likely to be obese. Nationall, FRAC estimates, 45 percent of students who receive a government-subsidized school lunch also eat a school breakfast.
Baltimore was one of 23 cities included in the latest FRAC study. In the midst of the period studied, in January 2006, the city school system began offering free breakfast to all elementary and middle school students regardless of income. But since most city kids were eligible for the free breakfast anyway, the move did not lead to a dramatic difference in participation numbers. School system officials have been reluctant to serve breakfast in classrooms on a wide scale for fear of rodents and other sanitary problems.
Now, this article states that Baltimore has a free lunch rate of 80% and that poverty and achievement are tied. What Alonzo did was set up Baltimore schools so that AP tests in reading and math led to those schools dropping all other subjects from the curriculum. Across the city parents are up at arms over the concentration and constant test prep for these tests all to get a rise in passing scores. The few percentage rise to the exclusion of major subject coverage is the worst of policies. Why would you inject funds----and these AP classes and testing are subsidized----into these kinds of tests when Baltimore City students are needing strong funding and resources for basic education classes? Number one----students are frustrated by being exposed to a level of learning for which they are not prepared and often these students leave these schools. Is it the challenge Alonzo is looking for or is it selecting students out of certain schools?
We have Dunbar High School designated as AP school and I looked at the test scores over several years and almost none of these students were passing these tests. The point with this is that the next round of students will be required to meet these standards and THEY will be stronger students. So, Alonzo is using AP as a selective tool and in the process frustrating many students and parents that simply want a strong basic and broad education.
You can see how the education policy implemented by an appointed school board often has little to do with quality education. All of this shows that the 1997 handing of school board to the state has had no advantage for a majority of students in Baltimore. Are there better schools? Of course----these are generally the ones with strong and large private donations.
Baltimore City plays catch-up on AP tests
Our view: We'll know whether school reform is working when city students catch up with the rest of the state on the Advanced Placement exams
February 10, 2011
While it's heartening to know the College Board has again named Maryland first in the nation for the number of high school students who take Advanced Placement tests and score well enough to get credit for mastery of a subject, a closer look at the figures shows there are still big disparities between the state's best- and worst-performing school districts. Despite recent gains in the Baltimore City school system, just 3.5 percent of the class of 2010 got a passing grade on at least one test, putting the city far behind neighboring jurisdictions where average AP pass scores were as much as eight times higher.
That's not good, but it may not be quite as bad as it looks. The AP tests are just one measure of overall student achievement, and they're also closely associated with family income. In Baltimore City, where 80 percent of students come from families that qualify them for free or reduced price lunches, it's not surprising that those who were already in high school three years ago, when the reforms initiated by city schools CEO Andrés Alonso were just getting underway, are now scoring less well than their peers in more affluent jurisdictions. Advanced Placement tests should be seen as a lagging indicator of progress in the city schools, given that it takes years of preparation — often dating to middle school — for students to master the skills necessary for success on these college-level exams.
Yet Mr. Alonso and his staff have set ambitious goals for dramatically raising the percentage of city students passing at least one AP exam to 50 percent over the next three years. That would put the city ahead of even the best suburban districts and greatly increase the number of college- or work-ready graduates Baltimore City produces every year.
How do they intend to do it? The first step is increasing the number of city schools offering AP courses so that more students have access to the rigorous curriculum that goes with them. Three years ago, only 14 of the city's 40 public and charter high schools offered any AP course. Last year that number had increased to 36. Meanwhile, the number of students enrolled in AP courses has grown steadily. In 2009 only 1,583 students were enrolled in AP courses out of a senior class of some 4,400. A year later, that number had risen to 2,487.
Granted, only a fraction of those students scored well enough on the tests to get college credit for mastering their subject, which explains why the city's overall pass rate remains so low. But Mr. Alonso argues there's benefit to increasing the number of students taking the courses even if they don't pass because students are exposed to the higher expectations and more rigorous curriculum expected at the college level. That means they gain valuable experience in critical thinking and the development of good study habits that will increase their ability to succeed in college or the workplace after they graduate.
Along with increasing access to AP courses, school officials will focus on raising pass rates. That's more difficult because the skills and study habits essential to earning higher scores are learned long before students enter their senior year in high school. To meet that need, the city intends to set up a series of summer enrichment programs targeting middle-school students who plan to attend the city's non-selective high schools and want to prepare for college. The six-week programs would offer intensive counseling and mentoring programs in addition to academic tutoring. At the same time, the school department will offer summer training programs for teachers to increase the number of qualified AP course instructors.
All these efforts are based in Mr. Alonso's deep belief that poverty should be no barrier to academic achievement. If he can prove it by raising city students' AP scores to levels comparable to those of surrounding districts, Baltimore would become a model for school reform across the nation. More than that, it would prod even school districts with high overall AP pass rates to address the often huge gulf in student achievement between individual high schools. Baltimore County, for example, has the top schools in the region for AP tests, but it also had several that ranked near the very bottom — including Woodlawn High School, where just 0.8 percent of the class of 2010 passed an AP test. If Baltimore, with all its problems, can make the effort to show that all students are capable of performing at high levels regardless of socioeconomic status, there's no excuse for far richer school systems not to do the same.
This article shows the biggest obstacle to achieving quality in public schools and it is what Hopkins and the education privatizers are pushing on communities in leaps and bounds-----charter schools and school choice. Now, some people like charters and the format is not the problem. The problem is that at a time when parents and students want funding and transparency in how schools operate-----charter school laws create just the opposite. So, we have lots and lots of charters all doing there own thing at a time when a working class and poor community simply wants a basic well-funded and resourced public school. This article shows one charter-----Roots and Branches----which is a national charter chain-----as is KIPP -----with all of the controversy over fraud and selective enrollment that undermine a strong and balanced educational system.
The 1997 takeover of Baltimore City schools stated this takeover would lead to a solid school system with accountability and public needs addressed and what we have is just the opposite-----THIS IN ITSELF WOULD BE GROUNDS TO BREAK THIS CONNECTION TO THIS STATE CONTROL.
Charters are overwhelmingly being rejected nationwide because they are often found working against the interests of public education----lack of transparency is creating fraudulent data -----and students are being made to attend a school with a narrow focus rather than receiving a broad and democratic public education most parents in Baltimore want for their children.
Why I Don’t Want a Charter School in My Backyard (Not just yet. Not so fast.)
ReEducation in Baltimore
On May 2, Roots & Branches Public Charter School announced the end of a short lived effort to open in Hampden’s Florence Crittendon Building for the 2011-12 school year. The school’s intention to open in Hampden was brought before the Hampden Community Council on April 25. Had the plan worked out, the new charter school would have sat five blocks south of Hampden Elementary/Middle #055.
That’s my neighborhood public school. I want to make it a place where every zoned family, including mine, would love to send their children. My son’s not even two. I’ve got time. And I’ve got friends. And I’m making more. And if there’s space, people from other parts of the city can vie for spots. It’s gonna knock your socks off.
It’s in a great location – a pretty 10-minute walk from the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus and the Baltimore Museum of Art. It’s just around the corner from The Avenue, a street of locally owned shops and restaurants that attracts people from in and around Baltimore. You can gorge here on freshly made soups and sweet potato fries and banh mi. You can get Indian food at a pizza parlor and chocolate from a store that sells shoes. You can buy an original painting and attend a free reading of new fiction in the same place. From east to west you can get your baby-jogger wheels inflated, pick out a longboard, and give cloth diapers a whirl. On your way back you can get an organic haircut and the deftest waxing north (or south) of the equator. (Tell Shannon I sent you.)
This neighborhood isn’t in need of a K-5 charter school. It’s in need of some love for its PK-8 public school. (Head Start included.)
Hampden #055 is already a good school. It has consistently met AYP. The new principal, Dr. Judith Thomas, is doing a lot with a lot less than she ought to have. Walk in and you see orderly classrooms, a decent gym, student artwork on the walls, a mural painted by a parent-artist. You see teachers engaging students in their work. You see an environment where students can learn. Around 75% of students at Hampden #055 qualify for free and reduced meals (FARMS). They were born into poverty. But with all due respect to David Simon and Ed Burns, not all Baltimore City middle schools look like Season 4 of The Wire.
Like every other traditional public school in Baltimore City, Hampden #055 is suffering from budget cuts. It’s also suffering from the insidious notion that traditional city public schools aren’t places where parents who can afford not to would send their kid. The issue isn’t race. It’s class. It’s just that Hampden is the only neighborhood where people are race-blind enough to see it. Because Hampden isn’t just poor. It’s white.
I founded a group to help out with our neighborhood school revival not two months ago – during what President Obama called “Education Month at the White House.” So I was not an objective party when I heard the news about Roots & Branches’ proposal to the Hampden Community Council. I immediately emailed my principal who called me 120 seconds later. I wrote emails to our city councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke and the executive director of the Office of Partnerships, Communications and Community Engagement, Michael Sarbanes. By 4:00 pm I was sitting in a child-sized chair at a child-sized lunch table in the #055 cafeteria ready to say my piece at a meeting of the Hampden Education Collaborative – a consortium of leaders from the many schools that currently operate here and of representatives of the Hampden Village Merchants’ Association, Hampden Family Center, and other neighborhood stakeholder groups. From BCPS, Tammie Knights of the Office of New Initiatives was in attendance, as was Julia Baez, a representative of the Office of Partnerships, Communications and Community Engagement. Mary Pat was there. So was a new friend who will send her son to Hampden next year, and a woman from the Village Parents who raised enough money to buy uniforms for every student at Margaret Brent Elementary – a school on the other side of Homewood Campus that’s got the same parent movement going for it that we have here.
I took the lead voicing concerns.
Why should a neighborhood with a critical mass of parental support for revitalizing a neighborhood school support a charter school, when the charter school has the potential to “cream” off the most engaged parents? What would happen to enrollment at Hampden – which is low – if a new charter school opened five blocks away? Charter schools and “traditional” public schools are funded per pupil. Fewer students means less money. What would happen to the budget? Why should homeowners support a local charter school when working to enhance the appeal of the neighborhood school has a greater shot at boosting home prices?
It’s not paranoid to think that charter schools are no friend to traditional public schools. The Maryland Charter Network Founders’ Manual – a 191 page handbook masquerading as a deterrent to initiating a charter school effort – advises founders to write annual appeal fundraising letters thusly:
Open with a story about a child who didn’t thrive in traditional public schools but has been (or could be) helped by your school or a similar school. Then describe the school and its education vision. Close with a specific request and action, such as “Please donate $25. Use the form provided or donate on our website, http://www.nameofcharterschool.org.” (emphasis added)
Why would a parent who supports her neighborhood school want that kind of solicitation going on in her school’s backyard?
Then there’s this cautionary word:
Be careful to describe the need [for funding] as the community’s need, rather than the school’s need. For example, if requesting funding for an after-school program be sure to discuss the community’s lack of appropriate safe places for children to go after school, as well as describing unique local threats such as gangs, drugs, crime, etc. that unsupervised children might face.
Deny that you have any interest in helping the students in your own school. Profess that you are helping the community, which desperately needs the services only you can provide. What the MCSN manual leaves out is the question of whether or not the community in which you ultimately locate really needs you there in the first place. (If this sounds to readers who remember The Closing of the American Mind like the moral relativist argument against colonialism, it should.)
The truth is, Roots & Branches wouldn’t have opened here. The location is tucked into a residential area with one lane, two way side streets. The person who wanted to lease them the property didn’t officially own it yet. And they came to the community two weeks prior to their deadline for securing a building. That’s not nearly enough time to get buy-in from their immediate neighbors and other stakeholders. It’s no wonder their motion was withdrawn before the HCC ever had a chance to vote.
But the whole fiasco begs the question of who charter schools actually serve. Is it the parent-founders who spend years on these efforts so their children can be guaranteed a spot? Is it the directors who are banking on salaries? Is it real estate developers who want to pay off mortgages or a school system that wants to relieve some of its financial burden?
It didn’t take long for me to realize that we could have leveraged the charter school’s circumstances for mutual benefit. But making a deal with a charter school can’t be the only route to improving a neighborhood public school. There’s gotta be another way. We just need a couple of years to work it out.
In the meantime, thank you, but no, to the opportunity to open a charter school in our backyard. Not until we get a chance to fix up the one out front.