On Thursday, September 30, Baltimore City Schools was announced as the 2010 winner of the Council of Urban Boards of Education Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence. The award recognizes Baltimore City for the hard work that board members, staff, principals, and teachers have put in to improve student achievement. The award also acknowledges that significant achievement gains have been made, enrollment has been increased, and the city has people rallying around the cause.
I agree that much talk and effort has been focused on closing achievement gaps and increasing student attendance, engagement, and success. I know that from my personal experience at my school, I am surrounded by many talented and effective teachers and faculty members who are deicated to holding students to high standards and closing the achievement gap. People are invested in transforming schools and helping our stdents reach high levels of academic achievement.
In the press release it states that "Baltimore City Public Schools are now thriving." Although I see examples of people committed to making improvements, I do not agree with this statement. When I hear the word "thriving," I think of schools where almost all students are fully invested in their classes and their actions relfect this mindset; I see high test scores and students who have been able to grow academically so that they are on grade level. I hear stories of others' schools, and even in my own school, the situation is not perfect. Fights are still taking place, students are still cutting class, and student are still struggling to meet their full potential and are behind academically. I have only been teaching in Baltimore City for about a year and do not know how conditions were like in the past, so I cannot say that large improvements have not been made. However, I do not think we are where we want to be. I believe that our system can continue to improve and I think that we are starting to move in that direction as Baltimore City employees continue to do great things for their students.