8-10-11: Baltimore Elections 2011 – Educational Reform
School vouchers. Charter schools. Improved morale. There have been a number of solutions suggested by the candidates for mayor on ways to improve public schools (or on what’s wrong with the current system) — we talk with an education policy analyst and longtime school board member about what’s feasible.
Kalman “Buzzy” Hettleman is an education policy analyst who was on Baltimore’s school board first in the early 70s, and then again from 2005 to 2008. He’s also acted as an advisor to the school superintendent, and he’s written a book called “It’s the Classroom, Stupid: A Plan to Save America’s Schoolchildren.”
We also speak with Julie Scharper, City Hall Reporter for the Baltimore Sun,who co -wrote an article with Erica Green that appeared in this week’s Sun, focusing on mayoral candidates’ positions on school construction.
We asked each of the mayoral candidates, including the incumbent mayor, the following question: What major changes, if any, would you like to see implemented in Baltimore’s school system?
We received one response, from Jody Landers. You can listen here, and read it below:
In order to see continued progress in City schools, it is absolutely essential for the Mayor and School Superintendent to forge a strong partnership and close working relationship. Recent revelations about possible cheating on the Maryland School Achievement Tests and a drop in test scores have undermined confidence in the system. Restoring parental and public trust in the system has to be on one of our top priorities
In order for children to learn they need a safe environment and they have to be in school. I would work with the Superintendent to assure that schools are safe for both students and teachers, and to assure that conduct rules and suspension policies are being consistently and uniformly enforced throughout the system. The inconsistent application of the rules of conduct only tends to breed errant behaviors. We must do a better job of effectively dealing with chronic attendance problems.
In talking with teachers in the course of campaigning, it has become apparent that teacher morale is extremely low. Many teachers feel they are not being given a voice in the overall direction of the system and in determining the best way to address the needs of the children in their classrooms. I would work with the Superintendent to boost the morale of teachers and to assure that they have an avenue through which their concerns can be heard and addressed.
City Charter Schools offer parents a range of options and choices that did not exist several years ago. Charter schools have definitely had a favorable impact on attracting and keeping families with children in the City. Unfortunately limited enrollment capacities in the charter schools make it impossible to serve all of the children and families seeking admission. I would strongly support efforts to expand the number of charter schools, along with serious efforts to reduce class size and improve instructional outcomes in zoned schools.