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Inside Ed Education news and issues
Baltimore city charter school leaders say funding falls short

Baltimore city charter school leaders said the district's funding for their schools next year falls short, one concern raised during a public forum where advocates, parents and educators sounded off on city schools CEO Gregory Thornton's first budget.

During the forum Tuesday night, advocates also said that Thornton's cut of an elementary summer school reading program ignored research showing the program was beneficial for students at a critical time in their literacy development. The $4 million program, called Read to Succeed, was cut primarily because it had poor attendance.

But former school board member Kalman "Buzzy" Hettleman said Thornton and his team did not take into account the program's successes with helping young readers in years past, nor explored how to improve the model that could serve the population.

The National Summer Learning Association also testified to the program's success, and said it had qualitative analysis from this past year that the district could have considered.


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Eastern Technical parents tell school board they want no change in magnet offerings

About 40 parents and students, many representing Eastern Technical High School in Essex, crowded into Baltimore County's school board meeting room Tuesday night over concerns about potential changes to the county's magnet school programs.

The school system is expected to release a magnet task force report and recommendations soon, but Eastern Tech parents who spoke before the board said they fear some of the National Blue Ribbon school's 10 magnet programs will be moved.

Doris Hitt, parent of an Eastern Tech student, said the community had collected 1,400 signatures on a petition asking the board not to remove magnet programs. She said that strict rules at a series of public meetings around the county prevented parents from being able to fully express concerns about their schools.

Parents also said the task force studying magnet programs in the county has not included members from their PTA.

State Senator Katherine Klausmeier, who represents portions of Baltimore County, said she came...

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Baltimore County nixes Loch Raven school property as salt dome site

After Loch Raven Village residents mobilized a campaign opposing plans to put a road salt storage dome at a neighborhood school, Baltimore County officials have backed away from the proposal.

Dozens of Loch Raven Village residents dressed in red shirts cheered Monday night when Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins announced that the salt dome would not be relocated to the Loch Raven Technical Academy. Bevins walked into Monday night's council meeting waving a red "Halt the Salt" sign.

"It's the most ridiculous place ever to put a salt dome," said Bevins, a Middle River Democrat who represents the neighborhood. "It just doesn't make sense."

The county has been looking for a new location for the salt dome since agreeing in 2013 to sell a county-owned property in Towson that houses a fire station and highway maintenance yard to a developer. The property at the corner of Bosley Avenue and York Road is slated to be redeveloped as a Royal Farms gas station and retail shopping center...

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Mayor, Thornton to push to fill pre-K seats

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will lead a canvass Saturday to help parents register for pre-kindergarten seats, particularly ones reserved for underprivileged students that annually go unfilled.

Joined by city schools CEO Gregory Thornton and other volunteers, Rawlings-Blake will begin knocking on doors in the Upton neighborhood at 10:30 a.m. The canvass will begin at a section of McCulloh Homes that feeds students into two elementary schools: Samuel Coleridge Taylor and Furman L. Templeton. 

In an interview, Rawlings-Blake said she believes parents simply need more guidance and information about the benefits of pre-K and how to get their students registered.

"We have many families that need that support," Rawlings-Blake said. "And that's what we have to do, even if it means spending a Saturday knocking on doors."

For the city's most needy students, who have priority for pre-K seats, registration has been most challenging. City officials said that every year, priority seats go unfilled...

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Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? Take the quiz

For the fourth year in a row, a group of city fifth-graders has outsmarted local celebrities in the Baltimore Curriculum Project's "Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader" fundraiser, which was held Thursday night.

The children from City Springs Elementary/Middle School, Hampstead Hill Academy and Wolfe Street Academy outsmarted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, city schools CEO Gregory Thornton, actress Megan Anderson and state Sen. Bill Ferguson.

Test your knowledge below with some of the questions posed during the quiz show.


1. The short story writer O. Henry frequently uses which of the following literary devices?
a. Irony
b. Metaphor
c. Allegory
d. Alliteration

2. What color is the hottest star in outer space?
a. Red
b. Pink
c. Blue
d. Purple

3. What is Pangaea?
a. The Greek god of the woods, fields and fertility.
b. The super-continent whose break up led to today’s continents
c. A sandwich place with free Wi-Fi and fresh baked bread
d. An island in the Pacific Ocean

4. What was the most important...

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'She brings an unparalleled energy': Severna Park Elementary instructor wins Teacher of the Year

Jennie Merrill likes to dress up in costumes to help get her message across to students.

One of her alter egos is called Professor Labcoat.

After Wednesday night, she can call herself something else — county public schools Teacher of the Year.

The fifth grade teacher at Severna Park Elementary School earned the honor at the 29th annual Excellence in Education banquet in Linthicum.

"I really never expected this to actually happen…Here we are," she said.

The 40-year-old mother of two sons has taught for 15 years and had this advice for colleagues: "Get back to the heart of why you became a teacher to begin with. Become that teacher who builds a relationship like no other, be their match that ignites a flame. They will remember you took the time, you listened, you cared."

Merrill likes to get to know her students and teach in creative ways, she said. One example is Professor Labcoat, who carries a fly swatter and talks in a funny accent to present difficult concepts.

"I find all these ways...

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