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Newswire – January 9, 2018

SPOTLIGHT ON… Maryland

Turn up the Heat. We are asking the same question that you are — why are there ANY schools in Baltimore not being heated? Unexpected and frigid temperatures aside, old boilers and pipes in schools have been anticipated for years. Eight schools remained closed Monday, and the Governor announced $2.5 million for repairs – on top of the already $24 million the city gets from the state ($12,000 per student annually) – and that he’d investigate mismanagement. The city says it’s underfunded. Yet, a look at the data on student achievement compared to funds spent suggest that all of whatever funding they have has its issues reaching the kids. Baltimore is also plagued with a union that stages sick outs and schools where teachers fail to report to class.

Business as Usual. Another year, another superintendent. The past 12 years have seen 5 superintendents in Baltimore City. It’s not the pay, which most recently was $287,000. It’s not the cause, which is vital. So it must be the politics, the treatment the vested interests that get to great people once they’ve taken the job. Or the untenable position they find themselves in. Take Dallas Dance, who by all accounts was an incredibly insightful superintendent. Some in the community – and the press – made a big deal of his involvement with Ed-Tech companies, claiming he had conflicts. Anyone engaged in education leadership may, along the way, actually work for or advise businesses in their products and services. Do we really expect educational leaders to forgo any livelihood outside of education administration? Dance was also criticized for spending lots of time out of the state. Where else do you think people learn how to make Maryland better for kids? (No wonder the city can’t heat its schools). The measurement should be whether your leadership is great for kids, period. American business is the foundation of American prosperity, folks. We should want leaders with business acumen. Speaking of which…

Innovation Shows the Way. A host of organizations in and around Baltimore are models. There’s the Towson University Incubator which has grown to be the most active edtech hub in Maryland, with support of over 30 companies, 80% in edtech. You can run over to the offices of Educate, Inc. and learn about how personalized learning closes gaps for kids. There’sCalvert Education, offering a time-tested, proven curriculum and all the tools and support necessary to ensure homeschool success; and Connections Academy up the road, delivering virtual learning programs that offer students everything they need to reach their highest potential. Dozens of active engaged citizens and philanthropists are shelling out time and money.And Johns Hopkins Ed School has become a thought leader, and certainly some of the city’s charter schools could show the district a thing or two. If only…

But About That Charter Law. Maryland’s law consistently ranks low on national rankings, most notablyours! It’s very much a law in name only these days, vesting power in charter-resistant school districts to control just about everything that could possibly occur in the schools. Baltimore escaped some of this hostility in the early days of the 2003 law because it had enlightened leaders at the time – and help from groups like ours. But since then, expansion in Charm City and throughout the state has been fraught with union and district hostilities. Despite a “friendly” state board, no additional innovations in chartering have occurred during the Hogan years. Despite that, the US DoEd just awarded $17.5 million in public charter grant funds to the state from a program that the likes of former Sen. Joe Lieberman advanced to help incentivize new schools and seats for kids. Such opportunities come so seldom anymore. Will those who dare to dream for kids please stand up? If the recent heat-gate didn’t compel the legislature to expand opportunities for kids, let’s hope the esteemed body will act now.

(*Graphic c. 2015 — MD Charter Law Ranked #42 in CER’s 2017 PPI Rankings and Scorecard

 

CURRENT EVENTS
  • Rural America’s Day CER urged the president to keep education front and center in the administration’s Rural Prosperity Plans.
  • Read All About It Voices of color, voices for opportunity continue to speak out. Sylvia P. Simms, executive director of Educational Opportunities for Families’ op-ed ran in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?
  • Baltimore City already spends $15,564 per pupil, the fourth highest per student out of the 100 largest school districts in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Annually, Maryland spends nearly three times the amount to incarcerate a person ($38,000) than to educate that same person ($14,000).
  • Of all Maryland’s 24 school districts, Baltimore City spends at or near the top per student, yet just 16 percent of 8th graders and 14 percent of 4th graders are proficient in reading.

 

TELL US YOUR STORY!

Is your state or city missing a big piece of the puzzle? Are you involved in an effort to make significant changes? Maybe you’re running a school. Maybe you’re driving change in your school or community and have hit a roadblock. The bottom line is that no effort is too small.

Share with CER how you are helping deliver the promise of an excellent education for ALL children. Together we can show how innovative education opportunities are bettering students’ lives.