Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What our teachers have to say

Ms. Emily:
Dr. Copeland asks why we should bother funding excellent schools like New Song Academy. As a New Song teacher of six years, I must ask why aren’t we fully funding all schools so that all children in this city have access to an excellent education? Small class size is just one of the reasons why New Song Academy is leading the city in excellence. The school’s ability to attract and retain excellent teachers is another.

I started teaching for BCPSS in 1997 at a traditional middle school but decided to leave after three years of battling for supplies, administrative support and a vision for change or improvement. I was looking to work at schools in other cities—until I found New Song Academy. I recently earned National Board Certification. I could teach anywhere in the nation. I choose New Song.

I teach at New Song because we use research-based reforms to create a positive learning environment. As a staff member, I have a voice in everything from the curriculum to the behavior policy. When BCPSS starts empowering teachers to make research-based decisions to boost student achievement, our schools will stop being the training ground for teachers to go on to jobs in other counties and cities. The financial and educational costs of constantly hiring and training new teachers are too steep, and ultimately fall on the shoulders of our children. We can and are doing better than that at New Song Academy. How can we afford not to fund a school that’s working?

Emily Maunz
Teacher, New Song Academy
1506 McCulloh St.
Baltimore, MD 21217

Mr. Fireside
Dear Dr. Copeland and the Board of School Commissioners:

I have been a BCPSS teacher since 1994. I have worked at 4 BCPSS schools and have, for the past 2 ½ years worked as the Academic Coach and science teacher for middle grades at #322, New Song Academy.

I am writing to express my frustration with the way that New Song has been treated when it comes to our funding model. Since my arrival at 322 I have seen the staffing allocation fluctuate – first being increased and than steadily decreased. Changes of this type have a major impact on every school, but as New Song is a small school, the impact has been devastating. Next years staffing allocation with its further reductions will not allow New Song to operate as designed. It seems clear to me that while the System is happy to accept the model that was proposed for New Song, and happy about its continued academic and social success, it believes that treating New Song like every other school will somehow reap different results.

A little background on our academic success is in order:

In 2005 we met AYP in every grade level for both reading and math

In the following grade levels and subjects we beat the city average:

Grade 3 reading
Grade 4 reading
Grade 5 reading (we beat both city and state averages) and math
Grade 6 reading and math
Grade 7 reading and math
Grade 8 reading and math

In grade 5, no school in the state of Maryland outperformed us in reading based on similar Title 1 and FARM statistics

In grade 6 reading, only 2 schools with similar FARM and Title 1 populations outperformed us in the state

In grade 7, only 3 schools in the state outperformed us in reading when comparing schools with similar Title 1 and FARM populations

In grade 8, no school in the state of Maryland outperformed NSA in reading based on comparisons to our FARM and Title 1 populations

In grade 7, only 3 schools with similar Title 1 and FARM populations exceeded out MSA results

In grade 8, only 1 school in the state outperformed us when comparing schools with similar Title 1 and FARM populations

Clearly the dedicated staff and students have found a model of instruction and a school model that provides success for the state’s most forgotten students. What is also clear to me is that at a time when BCPSS is searching for examples of true academic success, New Song should be held up as a model.

I encourage the Board and Ms. Copeland to reflect on their desire for successful schools and fully fund New Song as a model of success.


Doug Fireside

Academic Coach #322


At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NSA:

This is a letter I have sent in support. Keep up the great work!!

As a Baltimore City teacher and resident, I am writing
to show my support for New Song Academy. If we keep
undermining the structure of the schools that DO work
in our city, and focus our funding efforts on the
elite few, then the education for the vast majority of
our children will become mediocre at best. New Song
Academy should be held up as an example of what can be
done to give children a real chance at a meaningful

I am asking you to please use your authority to find
the funding that will allow New Song to continue to
provide a high quality education. While I know that
education budgets are tight, other schools in our
system, such as Baltimore School for the Arts, seem to
be able to get funding that goes beyond the standard
per-pupil allocation.

I know that you will do what you can, for it is our responsibility to ensure that all of the students in our city have opportunity for an excellent education
-- not only in the upper grades, but at all levels of
their academic career. If they don't have the support
and success they find at New Song when they are young,
there is little help for them achieving success in the
future. Please fund New Song Academy!


Jessica Saven
Baltimore City Teacher and Resident


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