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 October/November 2005


 

Welcome to the first edition of the Baltimore Curriculum Project's bi-monthly e-newsletter. BCP is a non-profit that exists to improve educational opportunities for all Baltimore City Public School students through direct operation of charter schools and advocacy of policies that provide equitable opportunities for all city schools and students. We believe that all students can learn when their teachers have effective tools and the training to use these tools; that all students deserve access to teachers with these tools and training; and that effective teaching tools are developed and improved through scientific research.

You are receiving this e-newsletter because we thought you would be interested in our work. If you would like to unsubscribe from this e-newsletter, please email lschugam@baltimorecp.org. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail: bcpinfo@baltimorecp.org

 
In This Edition:
 
BCP NEWS

 

Mrs. Scott Receives Teacher of the Year Award

Mrs. Delores Scott

Mrs. Delores Scott from Collington Square School has been named Patrick Groff Teacher of the Year by the National Right to Read Foundation. The Patrick Groff Teacher of the Year Award is a national award given to an outstanding reading teacher who uses the essential components of reading instruction validated by research for a minimum of five years and has successfully taught all students to read proficiently.

Mrs. Scott has taught at Collington for 12 years; 2 years with first graders and 10 years with kindergarteners. She is an excellent teacher who motivates her students to achieve academic excellence. During several recent tours of her Kindergarten class, visitors were impressed by being able to approach any student in the class and have them fluidly read a story out loud. A sign posted outside Mrs. Scott's classroom reads: "When you love what you do, you are passionate about it." She says this quote is "the code she lives by." Mrs. Scott's passion for teaching is evident as she talks about how she became a teacher.

Mrs. Scott teaches a reading class using Direct Instruction.

When she began teaching, 21 years ago, Mrs. Scott was working at the Bolton Hill Nursery School. One of the children attending the school would frequently tell her Grandmother about all the incredible things she learned from Mrs. Scott. The grandmother turned out to be the principal of nearby Mount Royal Elementary. Much impressed with Mrs. Scott's teaching ability, the principal offered her a job. Mrs. Scott quickly went from educational assistant to substitute to full-time teacher.

In a ceremony for Mrs. Scott last week at Collington, citations and letters of recognition were read from US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, US Reading First Program Director Chris Doherty, Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich, State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, Mayor O’Malley, and Superintendent of Baltimore City Schools Bonnie Copeland. The President of the National Right to Read Foundation, Robert Sweet, indicated that Mrs. Scott will be receiving congratulatory letters from the President and First Lady.

Mrs. Scott’s award will also be recognized at an upcoming meeting of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. We are very proud of Mrs. Scott and extend our congratulations to her for this prestigious and well-deserved award.

 

BCP Schools Receive MSDE Grants

BCP's three schools - City Springs, Collington Square, and Hampstead Hill - have received Maryland State Department of Education (MDSE) planning and design grants worth $50,000 each to assist with their conversion to charter schools. BCP submitted the grant proposals for these awards and will use the additional funding to expand services in the schools.

Combined with the per pupil funding received by the schools as charters, these resources are allowing the schools to implement several improvements including: hiring new staff members such as art and music teachers, expanding the school day to allow for additional instructional time, and a host of planned activities to come. BCP would like to thank MSDE for these generous awards.






QUOTATION OF THE MONTH


Many instructional arrangements seem "contrived," but there is nothing wrong with that. It is the teacher's function to contrive conditions under which students learn. It has always been the task of formal education to set up behavior which would prove useful or enjoyable later in a student's life.

B.F. Skinner




WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR SCHOOLS

 

News from City Springs School (#08)

City Springs School in East Baltimore

City Springs' conversion to charter school status has brought with it a variety of new programs and improvements. Over the summer the Creative Alliance, a community based non-profit organization that presents and promotes the arts and humanities, offered an arts education program at City Springs.

Students awarded for perfect attendance. On September 28, City Springs awarded students who had perfect attendance between August 29 and September 21 with one of two field trips. One hundred Pre-K through second-graders visited Safety City in Druid Hill Park to learn about traffic safety and street signs. One hundred seven students from grades 3 - 8 toured the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

 

News from Collington Square School (#97)

View larger version of Collington's library

New State-of-the-Art Library. A state bond will finance the renovation of Collington's library. The new library will feature: a production studio, a computer lab, an independent study/reading area for intermediate students, and a read aloud/reading area for primary students. The library's design was donated by Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects and the renovation should be completed by Spring 2006.

Brenda Kahn, Collington's Direct Instruction Curriculum Coordinator, helped write the bond for the library renovation. Mrs. Kahn trains teachers at Collington in Direct Instruction and supervises classroom instruction. She also recently received a grant from The Abell Foundation to purchase Classroom Library Collections for each teacher at Collington. BCP would like to thank Mrs. Kahn for all her hard work. We would also like to thank the State, the Abell Foundation, and Murphy and Dittenhafer Architects for their generosity.

New Library Needs Books, etc. Collington's new library still needs books and other materials to fill its beautiful new shelves. If you would like to donate money, books, computer programs, videotapes, DVD's, please call BCP at 410-235-0015 or email bcpinfo@baltimorecp.org.

 

News from Hampstead Hill Academy (#47)

Hampstead Hill Academy in Patterson Park

Hampstead Hill is full. The positive buzz about Hampstead Hill Academy last year is making more families want to choose the school. For the first time in years, Hampstead Hill is completely full. In fact, they have an extensive waiting list of families that live outside of their attendance area that would like to attend.

Hampstead Hill's new playground


 


Hampstead Hill’s playground
has been in use since last spring. By all accounts, students and the community love it. Little friends in the community and students are welcome to use the playground during non-school hours.

Hampstead Hill Expansion. Staff and parents are thrilled to continue the expansion of Hampstead Hill Academy with the addition of 7th grade for the 2005-2006 school year. New curricula and a new science lab will be in place for their rising 6th and 7th graders for the fall term.

 

Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Renovate BCP Schools

This sign hangs outside of City Springs School

Over the past year, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Inc. (SBE&R) donated time and materials to give Hampstead Hill and City Springs a beautiful makeover. At City Springs, they installed new windows, created a new learning garden, and built a new middle school science lab. At Hampstead Hill, SBE&R installed new windows, flooring, cafeteria tables, a new school sign, and a new exterior chain link fence.

They also painted hallways, renovated and repaired bathrooms, and created new landscaping. BCP would like to thank Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse for their generosity and for continuing to be a major contributor to the revitalization of Baltimore's schools and neighborhoods.


BCP Homepage

 

IN THE NEWS

 

Governor's Commission on Quality Education Releases Report

On September 14, 2005 Lt. Governor Michael S. Steele released the final report (PDF file) from the Governor’s Commission on Quality Education in Maryland. The report includes several recommendations on charter schools. Below is BCP's analysis of the recommendations.

The report recommends allowing multiple chartering authorizers. BCP opposes this recommendation. As the primary chartering authority for Baltimore City, the Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) is responsible for reviewing charter applications and for developing a public charter school policy for the district.

As steward of the Charter School Act for the City of Baltimore, BCPSS has a responsibility to implement the Act in the way that best reflects the district’s priorities, resources and needs and best serves the needs of all Baltimore City public school students. Maintaining the Local Education Authority as the single chartering authority facilitates development and implementation of a comprehensive and coordinated charter policy that compliments each district’s over arching efforts at educational reform.

Download report (PDF file)

The report recommends that Maryland "provide facility funding to public charter schools." BCP opposes this recommendation. Local public school systems should not be subsidizing charter school facilities.

In Baltimore City, existing BCPSS facilities are underutilized and the system is in the process of contemplating school closings to address this excess capacity. The school system should not be forced to take on additional facilities burdens at this time. Also, with an ever growing list of restructuring schools in the City, BCPSS should place a priority on charter school applicants that propose the conversion of existing, underperforming schools, in their existing facilities – not the creation of wholly new schools.

As a second tier priority, BCPSS should work with charter school applicants proposing wholly new schools to facilitate the co-location of those programs in some of the excess space in existing public school facilities. Resources should not be diverted from serving students to subsidize the creation and maintenance of additional facilities.

 

Relevant Lessons from Freakonomics

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s wildly popular book, Freakonomics, includes a number of valuable lessons for those of us interested in education reform. One such lesson relates to school choice and underscores an idea many of us already had – that there is a vital need to revitalize and reform existing schools that are under performing, particularly those in high poverty areas.

While it might help individual students, the creation of new schools is not the answer to improving the outcomes of existing schools, the students that continue to attend them or the system as a whole. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of students and families who can not or will not take advantage of school choice options.

Freakonomics points out that in Chicago’s experiment with school choice, only half of the parents and students took advantage of the opportunity to participate in the school choice program. One key lesson learned by that experiment was that, while attendance at the students' school of choice did not impact the students' educational outcomes, students who chose to participate in the application lottery were much more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not participate. In other words, it was not the outcome of the lottery that mattered (whether the student did or did not get to attend their chosen school) but the student’s participation in the lottery itself that indicated their likelihood of succeeding in school.

Students who are motivated enough to find out about and participate in a school choice option are our schools’ most successful students and they deserve high quality educational options. However, those students who, to date, have not been high performers and, as such, are not likely to take advantage of school choice options, are entitled to educational opportunities that are equally sound. Whole school reform and the conversion of existing, low performing or restructuring schools ensures the provision of a high quality education to all of Maryland’s youth.

 

Special Education in Baltimore City

If you've been following the local news lately you've heard plenty about special education in the Baltimore City School System. A recent ruling by Judge Marvin Garbis allowed the State to send nine administrators into the City school system to ensure that special education students are provided with appropriate services. Interestingly enough Direct Instruction, which is used in all BCP-operated schools, tends to decrease the number of students who need special education services.

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of DI with special needs populations. (Carnine, Silbert, Kame'enui, & Tarver, 2004; Adams and Engelmann, 1996; Forness, Kavale, Blum, and Lloyd, 1997) By grouping students into skill levels instead of grade levels, and by carefully monitoring student progress, DI instruction can enable students with learning disabilities to participate successfully in general education classes.

References

  • Adams, G. L., & Engelmann, S. (1996). Research on Direct Instruction: 25 years beyond DISTAR. Seattle, WA: Educational Achievement Systems.
  • Carnine, D., Silbert, J., Kame'enui, E., & Tarver, S. (2004). Direct instruction reading (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
  • Forness, S. R., Kavale, K. A., Blum, I. M., & Lloyd, J. W. (1997). Mega-analysis of meta-analysis: What works in special education. Teaching Exceptional Children, 19(6), 4-9.



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