Tag: charter schools

“We Are DeVos-stated”: UB Students Protest Slated Commencement Speaker

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Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

As could have been expected, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s invitation to speak at University of Baltimore’s winter commencement stirred up controversy. On Monday, UB students staged a protest of the would-be speaker with signs that read “#neverDeVos” and “We are Devos-stated,” according to reporting from WTOP.

Rapper Pitbull Wants to Open a Sports-Focused Charter School in Baltimore

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Pitbull in 2012. Photo by Eva Rinaldi, via Wikimedia Commons.

South Florida rapper and entertainer Armando Christian Pérez, better known as Pitbull, is eyeing Charm City for his next education project.

North Baltimore Gets a New Charter School

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With help from several local education leaders, including Loyola prof Peter Murrell and former Gilman School headmaster Jon McGill, Baltimore City will see a brand new public charter school opening fall 2012 in North Baltimore.

As Murrell, an urban studies professor at Loyola, notes, “At this point, there’s no school that’s focused on college access and African-American students.” This school would be the city’s attempt to fill that hole. So what would make this particular charter school stand out?  Well, for one, the school’s goal would be to have kids taking college-level classes as early as 10th grade. Students would show up to college better prepared, and potentially be able to graduate from college a year (or more!) early.

It may seem counterintuitive to have a high school put an emphasis on college-level classes — especially a school that will most likely draw students from disadvantaged backgrounds. But fans of the early college high school model say that it’s exactly this rigor that encourages students to thrive. More than 230 of these schools have opened over the past decade, most of them catering to “low-income youth, first-generation college goers, English language learners, students of color, and other young people underrepresented in higher education.”

When it opens in the fall of 2012, the school will host 150 students chosen by lottery, half each in the sixth and seventh grades. Over the next few years, grades eight through twelve would be phased in.

Charter Martyrs: Where Do Your Kids Go to School?

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The Roots & Branches Public Charter School sounds like a daunting and noble task. It aims to have “an inquiry-driven, arts-integrated curriculum – where teachers are co-learners with students” and to “create lifelong learners and community-minded citizens who embrace diversity.” In April, the school announced plans to open in Hampden for the 2011-12 school year.

But earlier this month, that plan got scrapped — in part because the Roots & Branches team was fuzzy on logistics, and in part because of Hampdenites who mobilized to voice opposition to the school. (The school’s new location is the Harriet Tubman School Building in Harlem.)

One Hampdenite lays out the anti-charter agreement nicely in a blog post entitled “Why I Don’t Want a Charter School in My Backyard. (Not just yet. Not so fast.)” As the equivocating sub-head indicates, those who opposed Roots & Branches don’t necessarily hate charter schools in principle; they just think that this one would be too close to a school that’s already doing pretty okay. Blogger Edit Barry blames the “insidious notion that traditional city public schools aren’t places where parents who can afford not to would send their kid.”

Part of the problem is that charter schools draw from the city as a whole. That means that a good charter school doesn’t draw parents to a neighborhood the way a strong public school might. But even parents with the loftiest ideals may balk at the idea of sending their own kids to the public school down the street. Is that racism or classism — or just the unwillingness to deal with entrenched bureaucracy and unmotivated teachers? Or maybe a little of both?

What’s your stand on charter schools — and what school do you send your kids to?

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