Friday, March 31, 2006

Will the State Take Over Baltimore Schools?

It's hard to know where this one is going. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, the state can take over schools that don't meet a criterion.

... Some say this might be a political move ... mmm, could that be?

From the Baltimore Sun:
Maryland schools chief Nancy S. Grasmick plans to ask the state school board today to seize control of 11 failing Baltimore middle and high schools - an action that is believed to be the first school takeover in the nation under the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

Grasmick's bold move is the most recent shot in a nine-year power struggle over control of the city school system and comes in the midst of a contentious governor's race between Mayor Martin O'Malley and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., both of whom have sought more influence over Baltimore schools.

Under Grasmick's plan, the board would put four high schools, including historic Frederick Douglass, into the hands of a company or nonprofit group that would report directly to the state. Seven middle schools would become charter schools or be operated by a third party but would remain under the ultimate authority of the city school board.

The changes would take effect in 18 months. All 11 schools have posted at least nine years of very poor test scores.

"If the state of Maryland takes over schools in Baltimore, that is ground-breaking in terms of No Child Left Behind," said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy, a national group that has closely monitored the federal law. "To my knowledge, no state has gone that far. State agencies are very reluctant to take over schools."

City school officials were furious late last night. "This political [expletive] is eroding our ability to educate the children of our city," said Brian D. Morris, chairman of the city school board.

In the gubernatorial campaign, Grasmick has clearly aligned herself with Ehrlich, who had sought to make her his running mate in the 2002 election. She has again been mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor but has said she doesn't want the job.

Grasmick dismissed any suggestion that her actions are politically motivated. Md. acts to seize 11 city schools

And when a politician says their behavior is not politically motivated, that means ... it's not politically motivated, right?

Remember, the governor is a Republican, the legislature has Democratic majorities in both houses.

The Post:
The Maryland General Assembly moved swiftly yesterday to block a state-ordered seizure of 11 low-performing schools in Baltimore, maneuvering in dramatic fashion to pass legislation by this weekend to thwart the will of the State Board of Education.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said lawmakers were angered that Wednesday's board actions took place without any advance notice. And he said the actions, proposed by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick and supported by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), smacked of politics, because Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor this year.

"People wonder if [O'Malley] weren't running for governor, would this action have even taken place, and in this manner?" Miller said. "This is raw politics at its worst, because it involves our schoolchildren."

Emergency legislation that would postpone the state intervention in Baltimore for a year was introduced yesterday in the Senate and House by Baltimore lawmakers. To speed up passage, the provisions were later added to another bill affecting Baltimore schools already nearing passage.

Democratic leaders predicted that the amended bill would pass both chambers today and land on Ehrlich's desk by evening. That would allow lawmakers enough time to attempt an override of an expected veto before adjourning April 10. Bill Would Block State Takeover of Baltimore Schools

Ah, but speaking of not being politically motivated:
Ehrlich said he was stunned that lawmakers would seek to postpone steps -- authorized by the federal No Child Left Behind law -- designed to improve schools with long track records of failure.

"I'm not going to sentence another generation of kids to dysfunctional schools," the governor said. "We have one school system that's not cutting it."

Stunned, I tell you. Governor Ehrlich wants you to know that the legislature is anti-child, anti-education, anti-decency, anti-everything-the-governor-wants-to-associate-with-himself. They're bad people, and you should vote for him. Not that this is political.

In case you can't see through the gunsmoke, the effect of this not-political move is to start converting public schools into privately-run schools, including charter schools, with government oversight. Except that they said it's not politically motivated, you might think it was part of a larger conservative agenda to destroy public schooling in general. I don't see anything like this happening in Montgomery County, a state takeover, but we have seen certain elements try to undermine the public schools, with lawsuits and constant complaining, even establishing a web site to recall the county school board. They'll take the erosion of the public schools where they can get it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Would Block State Takeover of Baltimore Schools

Washington Post
Friday, March 31, 2006


March 31, 2006 10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That $2.4 million study attempted to prove the power of prayer. Instead researchers found patients who knew they were being prayed for had a statistically significant increase in complications after heart surgery. A single study doesn't hold much weight. This study needs to be replicated with many variations so we can learn under which conditions prayer might help or harm various types of patients.

Just curious here, are Alex K and Jim K related?


April 03, 2006 9:41 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

No, it's just the letter that the koolest guys end their names with.


April 03, 2006 9:46 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Andrea K. isn't related either.

April 04, 2006 9:27 AM  

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