Education | WYPR

Education

Rachel Baye

  

Just before the U.S. Senate confirmed Betsy DeVos Tuesday, Democrats in Annapolis held a press conference tying Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to the controversial new education secretary.

Jonna McKone

For the fifth time in ten years, a Maryland teacher is one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year award.  Athanasia Kyriakakos is the first Baltimore City teacher to reach those heights.

Kyriakakos, the only visual arts teacher at Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, or Mervo, was chosen for her dedication to her students and her commitment to teaching art as a critical thinking skill.

She started at Mervo, the biggest high school in Baltimore, four years ago and found the school didn’t do much in the way of proudly showcasing its students’ work in the glass display cases that line the halls.

Jonna McKone

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Coleman Report, a landmark study led by then Johns Hopkins University sociologist James Coleman. The study found an enormous achievement gap on test scores between black and white children and was the basis for the busing programs of the 70’s to achieve racial balance in schools.

State and federal programs have poured billions of dollars into some of the nation’s worst schools since 2009 in hopes of making improvements. But once those schools show progress, the money disappears, and they risk sliding backward.

Commodore John Rodgers Elementary and Middle School in East Baltimore is one of those schools. After drastically improving test scores, school climate, enrollment and absenteeism, it is no longer eligible for turn around funding.

More than half of Maryland’s students who took standardized tests last spring failed them, according to the state Department of Education.

The department released scores on the 2016 Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests Tuesday which showed overall, modest gains throughout the state. The percentage of students passing the English test was essentially flat, but the percentage of African American and Hispanic students passing showed a small positive gain.

Being a first year teacher often means instructing with limited classroom experience and Baltimore City Public Schools, like many urban school districts, has more inexperienced teachers than suburban school districts.  A local program, called Urban Teachers, grown out of former educators’ experience working in Baltimore’s central office, is trying to change that.  

Ms. Tierra Woods is greeting her 4th grade math class as they shuffle into their seats. She’s a first year teacher, but this isn’t her first time leading a class.

Governor's Office via YouTube

As expected, Governor Larry Hogan signed an executive order today, requiring all Maryland public schools to open after Labor Day, beginning next year. But opponents questioned its legality, and the governor’s motives.

In making his announcement on the boardwalk at Ocean City, the governor said it will help the state’s economy, because families will be able to extend their summer vacations.

Scholars sing to start the day at Play On Purpose's Summer Camp
Jonna McKone

Every parent faces challenges finding constructive opportunities for their children in the summer while school’s out. But that process can be even more difficult for parents who can’t afford day camps.  

On a hot, August morning, about 75 kids play, sing and chat in the cafeteria of ConneXions, a public charter school in the Mondawmin neighborhood of West Baltimore. Play on Purpose (POP) runs a free summer program here that includes curriculum through the Freedom School, a program of the Children’s Defense Fund. Freedom Schools teach culturally relevant reading and local African American history at over 12,000 sites around the nation to, in part, stem the tide of summer learning loss.

Jonna McKone

The standard picture of a debate team looks something like this: white students in jackets and rep ties from schools like Dartmouth and Princeton. But that’s changing, especially in Baltimore, which has developed a reputation for producing some of the most accomplished high school and college debaters in the country.

Take rising 10th grader at Baltimore City College, Nicolas Broaddus, who stands in front of the  judges at the Eddie Conway Liberation Institute’s debate competition. Clad in a dashiki he’s talking about things that "...constitute the domestic aspect of the US transnational network of secret prisons and black sites..."

Nicole Price, 21st Century School Building Plan

The Baltimore City school system is spending $1 billion to update and renovate nearly two dozen overcrowded and outdated schools as part of the 21st Century Schools Building Plan. But closing schools and buildings and moving students, no matter the goal, is not easy, especially for communities that have lost many of their public institutions over the years.

Marvin Walker’s daughter attends Samuel F.B. Morse Elementary School in a Southwest Baltimore neighborhood of vacant homes and broken sidewalks. It’s a school that’s slated to close and its students are to move to nearby Frederick Elementary, which is being modernized to accommodate more students under the system’s 21st Century School Building Plan.

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