Ignoring charmed schools in Charm City

Several weeks ago, Baltimore managed to thwart a state takeover of several failing schools, including seven of the city's twenty-three failing middle schools (see here). This week, another story brings the Baltimore school district's bureaucratic inertia into sharp relief. City officials say the reason there's been little progress toward improving middle schools is a dearth of high-quality models to replicate. Yet the Baltimore Sun managed to find two high-achieving middle schools without leaving the city limits (and Cheri Yecke offered yet another local alternative). So what's the real problem? The high-achieving schools- Crossroads Academy and KIPP's Ujima Academy-are charter schools. And though Alexandra Hughes, assistant to the Baltimore schools CEO, pledges that the district plans to use "some of the things that are working for the charters," Jason Botel, the KIPP principal, doesn't buy it. "There hasn't really been a concerted effort for a dialogue," he said. Gadfly isn't surprised. The Sun points out that in order for Baltimore to replicate successful charter school features, the city would need to rethink "the educational bureaucracy." Heaven forbid!

"Models of middle school success," by Sara Neufeld, Baltimore Sun, May 1, 2006

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