S. Dunn

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What’s Going On With Cheating Around Here? To be Fair, It’s Everywhere…

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In early spring, The Baltimore Sun revealed that city schools administrators spent $320,000 to hire and train test monitors to prevent cheating during the state’s annual standardized test. That story came soon after a friend had passed on to me “The Shadow Scholar” a first-hand account on The Chronicle of Higher Education website by a writer who churns out papers for college cheaters.  All this was a sad reminder of rumors that swirled last year about a Baltimore senior who had been caught cheating. I witnessed parents clash over dinner about how the school handled it (suspension not expulsion).

Race to Nowhere” a new documentary that was screened this winter at Park School sheds some light on the problem. The documentary follows over-achievers and their driven parents in the high-income central coast of California, but the angst and dysfunction of the students could easily be found at any affluent neighborhood in any city across the country, including Baltimore. Teens admit on camera to cheating and say they feel like every test, every grade, every paper is do or die and they just can’t always do their best after rising early for a full day of school, followed by hours of grueling athletics and late nights of strenuous homework. Yet they can’t fathom losing their place at the top of the class. Similarly, when someone at Baltimore’s George Washington Elementary School tampered with test booklets in 2008, was it fear of job loss that motivated the behavior? (The principal at the school was removed and the new teacher and current staff are doing their best to raise scores legitimately. See the George Washington Elementary rap “My Pencil” about passing the MSA starring teacher Mr. McCraw on our video landing below.)

I’m not trying to make excuses.  I’m trying to understand the shift in our culture.  Or has there been a shift? A friend pointed out that cheaters have been around since the beginning of time. Fair enough. But doesn’t it seem more rampant? Ask your kids. I hear it is more widespread, but what are you hearing?  More importantly, what do we do about it? 

Q & A With "Modern Family" Star Julie Bowen

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We asked Modern Family star and Baltimore girl-done-good Julie Bowen (nee Luetkemeyer) a few questions about life, the secrets to her success and growing up in Baltimore (in Woodbrook). We learned the Brown University alum and mother of three is not wholly unlike the funny, self-deprecating, lovable character she plays on TV.

Sum up your life philosophy in one sentence.
If everyone gets to bed with a clean diaper and minimal whining, I win!

When did you define your most important goals, and what are they?
I thought my most important goals were career related, and in some ways they still are.  I love working and get (overly?) excited about new jobs and the opportunity to work with creative people.  Having three kids in two years, however, has forced me to shift a great deal of focus outside of myself and my own goals which is, frankly, much more healthy.

What is the best advice you ever got that you followed?
My parents told me to get an education, whether I “used” it or not, and I did.  It is still the greatest thing I have ever done even if I rarely dig out Neoplatonism in cocktail conversation.

The worst advice, and did you follow it? Or how did you muffle it?
The worst advice was never direct as much as it was implied.  Some people in my life kept saying I was “lucky” to get jobs, and I shouldn’t push my luck by asking for better salaries or even better jobs.  I spent a great deal of time undervaluing myself, and still feel I have to fight against this mentality as a default mode.

What are the three most surprising truths you’ve discovered in your lifetime?

  1. Kids are amazingly fun.
  2. Kids are amazingly hard.
  3. One person, place or thing will never meet all of your needs. Get a deep bench and keep expanding.

What is the best moment of the day?
5 a.m. Coffee, email, and a book before I go running.

What is on your bedside table?
Half a broken toy truck,  crosswords, three books to read and a picture of my dearly departed dog.

What advice would you give a young person who aspires to do what you are doing?
Get used to hearing “no” and don’t take it personally.  Auditioning is a war of attrition, and if you can resist the urge to quit when you are sure you won’t get a job, you will eventually land on your feet.

Why are you successful?
Am I?  That’s hard to accept…I suppose I have success in acting because I really love it and didn’t look at my failures (there have been PLENTY) and rejections as deterrents.

What was the best thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The Orioles and lightening bugs.

What was the worst thing about growing up in Baltimore?
The humidity!

What do you miss most about Baltimore?
My parents and old friends like Lillie Stewart, Catherine Thomas and Emily Wilson….

What is the thing you must do/place you must visit when you are in Baltimore?
The Irvine Nature Center is the best.  My dad can’t survive without a trip to Tark’s (Grill).  And for culture, the Walters Art Museum is my favorite.

What is your favorite regional delicacy? 
Berger Cookies!!!!  Oh my god!  I always thought you could get those anywhere until I moved away from Baltimore.  What a horrible realization!

Eddie’s or Graul’s?
Graul’s!  The chicken salad alone is worth it.

The creator of “Modern Family” is also from Baltimore.  Do you two ever commiserate on the best and worst of Baltimore?  Did you know each other or any of the same people growing up?

Jason Winer (Friends School alum) directed Modern Family the first season and still has strong Baltimore ties.  We didn’t talk a whole lot of Baltimore, but whenever we did, we used the full-on Bawlmer accent, hon!

 

Anti-Sheppard Pratt Forces Organize

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Along Bellona Avenue this week signs objecting to the Sheppard Pratt mental health residential treatment home sprouted along the road. The signs direct readers to the website for Neighbors Against the Sheppard Pratt Hotel which has over 230 Facebook likes. While opposition is mounting, the hospital completed the sale last week and plans to go forward with opening the six-bedroom home on LaBelle Avenue. Like it or not, there is little residents can do: Sheppard Pratt’s proposal is protected by federal and state housing laws.

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