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August 5, 2009

Transfer option meetings in Baltimore County elementaries

Last night, I attended a parent meeting at Halstead Academy, a Baltimore County elementary school in the Parkville area.  Because Halstead did not make adequately yearly progress this year, and is a Title I school, parents must be given the option of transferring their children to either Carroll Manor or Jacksonville elementaries.  A similar meeting was to be held at Riverview Elementary about the same time last night.  The two are the only elementaries in the county on the state school-improvement list.

Crowded into a classroom, parents met Halstead’s new principal, Karen Blannard, taking over for Jill Carter, who was transferred to Halethorpe Elementary.  It was interesting how much some of the tension dropped once Blannard did a presentation explaining the position the school was now in: Halstead failed to make AYP for its special-education students, but met requirements in all other areas.  Blannard noted that attendance, which counts toward AYP, fell short by one-tenth of a point.  She and the many teachers present emphasized that they need parents’ help in improving the situation in the coming year.

A few other tidbits:

*Parents expressed some frustration with not being able to choose their own transfer school, particularly as the two choices are about 30 minutes away from their home school.  Some also pointed out the different demographics at the choice schools, which do not mirror Halstead’s primarily African-American population.  But Lisa Williams, who used to head the district’s Title I office, explained that the two schools are the only options, and that a number of factors go into deciding on choice schools, including the building’s capacity, available resources and transportation.

*The principals from the choice schools encouraged parents to consider that some of the services Halstead provides won’t be at their schools, simply because they don’t have that extra Title I funding at their disposal.

*Children can transfer back to Halstead if they find the choice schools aren’t working for them.

*Students who transfer can remain at their choice schools until fifth grade, but could be on their own for transportation after the school makes AYP for two consecutive years, and gets off the state watch list.

* A number of initiatives are planned to improve next year, including homework clubs before and after school; family nights with a focus on academics; and attendance support and recognition programs, among other things.

Blannard called for another parent meeting — this one a brainstorming session on strategies to address the attendance issue — at the school Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. (babysitting provided).

Posted by Arin Gencer at 5:34 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Baltimore County, NCLB, Parents


My son was sent to Halstead in 1994 when it was being touted as a math magnet school program and was attempting to get non-minority students to attend. I loved his teacher and the principal did a decent job; however, it was apparent that the general climate of the school was not what it should have been. Too much poor attendance, too much poor behavior and no parental support. We pulled him out after a semester and went back to Villa Cresta. I hope that, in the intervening years, Halstead has become more organized and disciplined. The students deserve it.

Interesting isn't it. The school failed to make AYP because of the special education students who are held to the same testing standards as non-special education students. Why don't elected officials in D.C. and Annapolis understand that students are in the special ed program with an IEP because they need special services and usually can't learn at the same rate or in the same way most students can learn. It doesn't mean they are any less intelligent and it doesn't mean that the staff isn't doing a great job, instead it means that they are held to the same testing standards as all other students. This is happening all over the county and state. If special education students are held to the same standards to learn the same content at the same rate as non-special education students then why spend millions in special ed services. Schools will continue to fail until the powers-that-be recognize that not all students are widgets and they don't all learn at the same rate on the same day in the same way. All students are entitled to a quality education that meets them where they are and educates them to improve. Wake up folks the education laws are selling you a bad bill of goods with all of this testing and comparing students in a grade to the students the year before. The country and the state are spending millions on testing, school choice transportation, special quick fix programs, and more. Judge students on their individual growth and allow teachers to teach to students needs not to a test.

I really love to read articles which are very informative and the topics are based or concerned with the current issues in our society. I admire these writers in sharing their views and or opinions that can enlighten the mind of the readers. Great job!

Its nice that parents are given the option of transferring their children to either Carroll Manor or Jacksonville elementaries so they can give their children the best education, I admire that.

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