The year in Baltimore schools
As 2008 draws to a close, think of all we've learned this year. A year ago, the terms "Fair Student Funding" and "transformation school" meant nothing to us. "Believe" was still the slogan of the city; it had not yet been eclipsed by "Great Kids, Great Schools" and its variations, most notably "Great Kids, Come Back."
On the other hand, some education jargon we now have permission to erase from our memories. Take the name of the Baltimore school system, for instance. "BCPSS" has been outlawed from all official documents, replaced with the simpler "City Schools." (Generally a good move, I think, though as the official name of the entity, "City Schools" now takes a singular verb, which I find a little annoying.) The BCCPTAs (Baltimore City Council of PTAs) is no more. We have bid farewell to the AAOs and said hello to some new executive directors. From the state, we got the Bridge Plan, and no, it has nothing to do with roads or bridges. As we head into 2009, SITs (School Improvement Teams) are set to be replaced with SFCs (School Family Councils).
A year ago, there were more adults in North Avenue but not yet any students. Enrollment in the city schools was still going down. We'd not yet debated the merits of paying students for improving their preparation for the HSAs. We'd never heard of Jolita Berry, but then, we'd not yet seen an onslaught of community volunteers in schools, either.
I started the year writing about the murder of Baltimore Algebra Project member Zachariah Hallback, 18, who was killed not far from Baltimore City College, as the Algebra Project protested for more education funding. I ended the year writing about the murder of 15-year-old Markel Williams, who was allegedly stabbed by a classmate outside their school, William H. Lemmel Middle, as BUILD protests for more education funding.
A lot has changed, but a lot remains the same. Here's to more progress and less violence in 2009...