Thursday, May 29, 2008

Half days for a week?!?

So, does anyone think these half days work? Last year they were sprinkled throughout the year and on those days attendance was awful. Since attendance is one of the metrics used in grading schools this was a problem. So the solution this year is to put all the half days together during the last week of school. The only advantage is that attendance records have no doubt been turned in so no one cares that attendance is non-existent. The down side is that looking at the number of school days Baltimore City Schools looks like it is meeting the state requirement, but in reality at least 5 of those days are totally bogus. Maybe 5 days isn't a big deal, but this is dishonest.

Another problem I have is that I'd like to teach my kids that you go to work on workdays. There are days when I have no desire to go to work, but I do. It just seems to me that that is what is expected of a professional. It's been made clear that attendance in the last week is optional. Generally their teachers don't want them to be there on the last days. This happens every year, but this year it's for an entire week. So do I drag my kids to a logistical nightmare where their teachers say "Go home!" just to make a point about work ethic?

I'm not saying this is a big problem, like class size or violence, but it makes me crazy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Magnet Schools

Over in Inside Ed they're discussing the BCPSS decision to make it harder to kick kids out of Citywide highschools once they get accepted. Seems like a bad idea to me, but maybe I'm missing something. First off these schools are getting money per head for these kids, so they've already got incentive to keep them there. I would think we're talking about kids that are disruptive or are just not doing the work. Hard to imagine that making the schools keep these kids won't bring down the school overall.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What's my motivation?

Given that I don't work for Dr. Alonso why would I defend these changes to the funding structure to BCPSS as I have been over at Inside Ed ?

Well for one reason because when things are totally messed up it seems like big changes are in order. I also think that Dr. Alonso is refreshingly honest and open. That's not to say I don't have any issues with the funding formula. Like, what's the concept with giving schools $2200 extra per advanced kid with no strings attached to that money as far as gifted and talented education? I've been told specifically that this money will go towards general staffing. There might be a small increase in G&T funding, but basically the extra funds will just make the funding less tight at their school. So what happens to schools that have a majority of kids who are neither advanced or basic? Those schools are pretty well screwed. And schools that advise their brightest kids to go into G&T magnet schools are now going to stop doing that. So is the concept to stop having magnet programs? I think that's a bad idea - I think that G&T programs need to draw from a bigger population than a neighborhood school.

On the plus side leveling funding between schools has got to be a good idea. Schools which have been underfunded in the past deserve better and schools who have been over-funder (relative to other city schools) need to figure out how to cut waste. I think the waste has had more to do with sloppy management rather than providing the students with an excellent situation. That's just a guess, but when a list of over and under funded schools is published it might be a little clearer.

Regardless, I think that it's time to try a new approach. Fine tuning can come later.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I got a little mad...

Something about being called an "incompetent newbie"...perhaps I should have counted to 10 first...
To the supposedly "concerned parent" -
In fact I have 3 kids in the BCPSS - 2 at one school and the 3rd at a different school. What do you want for proof? I've got a PTA membership card. I come to work around 10 of 8 at which time I can get on the computer for a while, plus since I'm doing computer work most of the day I can usually check the blog periodically. And beyond that I even have a computer at home.

I have been following the new budget with interest and being that's the way my mind works I tried to read and figure it out. The link that I posted came from links that Sara had on this blog probably a month ago. My kids' school had (as all schools are supposed to) a budget meeting where I asked a few questions. I'm posting what I figured out. There was a comment about plugging numbers into a spreadsheet to see how they work, that's why I figure it's a formula. I had a question answered on Marc Steiner's show on WEAA last Monday by Dr. Alonso.

I'm no shill of BCPSS! Do you want me to tell you details of the IEPs I've sat through and lies I've been told to prove it? Sorry, not sharing that kind of information on a public forum. And until I know you're not an BCPSS adminstrator (perhaps from one of the "over-funded" schools that you want to defend so badly?) in a position to harm one of my kids I'm not telling you any details."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My First Post

So I've been reading blogs for quite a while, but I never really had much of a drive to make my own blog - commenting on other blogs (very occasionally) has been enough. Today though, after being accused of not really being a BCPSS parent I feel like making a blog to prove myself.

So I'm a 40-something mom of three kids in elementary and middle schools in Baltimore City. My youngest is in a "non-public placement" because of special needs, so I guess literally s/he's not in a Baltimore Public School, but since BCPSS is paying the tuition I'd say we're still 100% in the system.

I work as an engineer in a moderate sized company in the greater Baltimore area. I completed all of my K-12 education in BCPSS, graduating from Western High School a long, long time ago. My husband is also a product of Baltimore City public schools.