The challenge of co-existence
While everyone seems focused on whether any school should be in Canton, the outcome of the debate seems to be a forgone conclusion. Despite threats that the City Council will hold up the school system's budget, the system has a right to keep a school or schools in one of its own buildings, regardless of whether a different direction was announced before.
A better question might be what will occupy the Canton Middle School building next academic year. Canton Middle isn't scheduled to close until the summer of 2009, when its last class completes eighth-grade. In that case, a new middle/high school run by the Friendship Public Charter School company would have to spend its first year operating alongside another school that's clearly dysfunctional. The system and Friendship seem to be leaning toward having Friendship absorb the eighth-grade Canton class so that, as of this summer, Canton Middle can cease to exist and the culture of the building can change.
Many new schools in the city have co-located with existing schools, and some of the new middle/high schools will be no exception. Baltimore Freedom Academy (the high school adding middle grades) has already been operating alongside Lombard Middle and at a recent meeting I attended there, the Freedom Academy parents said they can't wait for Lombard to close. The Reach! School is scheduled to operate alongside Southeast Middle for that school's final year of operation. KAPPA will share a building with West Baltimore Middle. Civitas gets to go alongside two peaceful charter schools, KIPP and MATHS, following the closure of Roland Patterson this summer. KIPP is an example of a school that has been tremendously successful despite its culture clash with Roland Patterson. But when a new school moves into an existing school with a negative environment, it becomes much harder to succeed. Remember the brawl in December between the kids from New Era and Southside?
The new middle/high schools will hold fairs for prospective parents and students from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at system headquarters.
On another topic: The school system reported yesterday that it has had 340 people sign up since its call for volunteers a few weeks ago, plus about 150 who will do a service learning day in early June.
And finally... a friendly reminder that, while we want a healthy debate on InsideEd and we firmly stand by your freedom of speech, we need to keep the dialogue constructive. In the year we've been doing this blog, there have only been a handful of comments submitted that we have not published. But three times in the past day, we've chosen not to publish comments that are racist and hateful.