Baltimore Education Coalition Forum: MD Gubernatorial Candidates on Education

Maryland gubernatorial candidatesMarch 6, 2014 – Segment 2

We listen back to the Non-Partisan Gubernatorial Forum on Education in Baltimore City, organized by the Baltimore Education Coalition, which I co-moderated with Sue Fothergill, Karen DeCamp, and Zuri Battle Wednesday night at City Springs Elementary/Middle School.

Democratic Gubernatorial candidates Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler, and Delegate Heather Mizeur share their visions for education in Maryland.


Written by Marc Steiner

Marc Steiner

The Marc Steiner Show currently airs on The Real News Network. The show covers the topics that matter, engaging real voices, from Charm City to Cairo and beyond. Email us to share your comments with us.

1 Comment

  1. Cindy Walsh says:

    We need to ask ourselves as Baltimore residents why is this one education group, Baltimore Education Coalition BEC the only voice allowed in almost all the discussion on education in Baltimore. Even during Baltimore’s city-wide public forums on closing schools and funding schools building, BEC sent someone to sign in all of their associated groups before anyone else arrives leaving the first half of the process fully all their spokespeople talking about their issues. Parents who are left out of this debate at every turn are left to the end of the forum talking to an emptying room.

    It happens all the time. Baltimore Sun quotes the BEC, WYPR and Marc Steiner has this group time and again asking the questions. That is the key. WHO ASKS THE QUESTIONS CHOOSE THE ISSUES THEY WANT AIRED. Politics in Maryland is so crony and captured and media provides no free speech or free press because of this closed system of voices.

    Who is BEC? It is a group of private non-profits working together to promote privatization of public education and using the schools as development tools —-it is a group supporting education policy advanced by Johns Hopkins —–Arne Duncan and Bill Gates seeing schools as businesses, seeing vocational tracking and testing, Teach for America and VISTA in the classrooms as viable education structures. They represent what schools and parents across America are fighting very strongly. In Baltimore, the citizens have no voice in shouting against these policies either within this group or in public forums. Across Maryland you see similar attempts to fight it silenced. Even the teacher’s unions fearful of retaliation against rights have finally come forward to slow the reforms organizations like BEC push in Baltimore schools. They don’t support this you say? Do you ever hear them advance any questions in this regard? NO.

    I went to BEC to join the group and I was asked to leave. I needed to be invited to be a member of this group and my stance on charters, Teach for America, and school privatization simply did not fit. I was of course not asked to be part of this Governor’s Forum even as I am the candidate from Baltimore, with the most experience in education academically and in the classroom and would have given policy stances that were fresh and real and different from the corporate written stance of BEC and the 3 candidates for governor invited.

    For those in the city who want to see charters used to segregate and gentrify I need to shout to you that the goal of education reform in Baltimore is building a private structure for K-12 funded by corporate donations and tied to corporate vocational training. These schools will be primarily online lessons with the classroom teacher replaced by education techs that simply move from one online lesson to another. This will not happen only to underserved schools as is happening now….it will be expanded across the state and include middle-class public schools as well. See what people are shouting against all across the country?

    So, citizens of Baltimore are being caught in what for some is an attractive gentrification policy without knowing what the goal of all this school privatization will be. Wall Street already has its model for this privatized charter school market that will earn billions for the same people owing billions to the State of Maryland for fraud. Tracking children from pre-school to college in a vocational track decided by the results of tests in pre-school. They are already doing this in Baltimore. Parents will be left out of where their child will attend and what vocational track. See why BEC doesn’t want anyone else asking questions? It is a disaster of a policy. Funding for pre-school is great but when you are dealing with education privatizers, that funding will go towards building structures for data collection just as all the funding spent on education in Maryland during O’Malley/Brown has been to consultants and education businesses corporatizing our universities and now building testing, evaluation and the Common Core curricula. Don’t worry they say Common Core is just a guideline and will not capture content….only Rupert Murdoch lessons are already in Baltimore classrooms. If you look at the billions of dollars spent in making Baltimore City schools businesses you could have easily rebuilt all schools.

    Remember, the only thing wrong with achievement is lack of funding, resources, and an education reform in Reagan/Clinton terms that took a #1 ranked education in the world and left us with children not able to read and write. This Reagan education reform was written by the same Ivy League schools; Stanford, Princeton, Harvard as is writing this reform. The reform in Reagan’s term took textbooks out of the classroom, lose the rigor and accountability and told teachers to use calculators in math classes because people were not going to have to calculate manually anymore. I quote this as a teacher graduating from education school at the time this was happening. So, students cannot read or do math —-couldn’t see that coming could they? So, we know why children haven’t achieved these few decades and it has little to do with teachers or children. Placing texts back into schools and taking the calculators away will reverse much of the problem. Rigor and accountability existed in the 1950s-1970s….with no Wall Street education business development. This is ridiculous, it wastes money, it places the teachers in positions no one wants, and it places undo stress on children. One of the primary tenets of teaching and education is creating an environment to learn. These policies dismantle all of this. What makes it equally frustrating is that none of the data collected will be able to assess. There are too many variables in every school and community to standardize these data and all across the country parents, teachers, and students are saying these policies are of no use. What they will be used for is selling of data and for tracking children through schools.

    Funding for education will soar when we stop spending all education funds on private education businesses, consultants, and corporatizing university campuses. Funding will soar when all the sources for education funding… taxes/gambling…..are collected and not allowed to be avoided. Baltimore and Maryland is moving full speed toward ending all property tax for corporations. Brown/O’Malley have leveraged and TIFed, and credit-bonded the state into a revenue crisis in the near future. A tax shelter for corporations called REIT has itself eliminated much property tax. All of Enterprise Zones are sheltered from tax. So, this is the problem in Baltimore with funding schools and school buildings. Did you know that O’Malley/Brown sold the issue of gambling as revenue for schools —-over 60% going to the state for education for slots. Fast forward today and most of the gambling revenue is from table games at around 20% and then that revenue is tied to the communities around the casinos. See the pattern in all of the school funding revenue sources? They are all a myth. A candidate like Cindy Walsh will talk about it and do something about it—-see why I am not one of the people given a voice in Baltimore on education?

    Indeed, the citizens of Maryland have so much money coming back to them from the financial frauds of last decade to build all Baltimore schools and fund much of K-college for years. Simply rebuilding the white collar criminal agencies in Maryland will stop fraud and corruption causing revenue losses in the billions each year. So, if you vote for Gansler, Brown, and Mizeur who will not even speak of this…you will not get any school funding. Did you know Mike Miller in the Maryland Senate made a statement that he intends to stop state funding of schools? See the privatization connection to which I spoke earlier. The intent is to have schools tied to corporations which, because they are not paying taxes will simply make schools part of their business operations. You see that in Baltimore right now. Can you imagine if Johns Hopkins corporation paid taxes on its business empire rather than sponsoring all of these charters having health care as an elementary -college theme for example. Indeed, in Baltimore charter schools are allowed private funding having corporate donations and private donors giving one school tons of money while other schools can barely pay for toilet paper. You know, that equal opportunity and access to education right out the window. Tiered funding in Baltimore has the underserved and special needs children literally warehoused in schools where teachers are overwhelmed and unable to give the attention needed to both of these groups needing the most attention. Talk about winners and losers in Baltimore! It isn’t even Constitutional and it happens because corporations do not pay taxes and because property taxes are not allocated properly. See why I never get to talk.

    Sadly, all of what I am saying is true. Let’s look at what O’Malley/Brown and their appointed school board….which by the way looks just like the BEC—-charter schools, Teach for America, business people, and very few education people have done with tiered funding, schools as businesses, and closing community schools for reasons of development. If you live in an Enterprise Zone you will have that billion dollar school building leverage deal giving you new schools. Remember, this deal ties schools to Wall Street and makes lots of money for the ‘stakeholders’. Meanwhile, we are waiting to receive from Wall Street billions of dollars in fraud from the last leverage deals made with them. So, do we collect fraud to pay for the schools, or do we allow Wall Street to get more public money from what will be really, really, really bad school building leverage deals. What happens with schools tied to these deals when the economy crashes? That’s right…municipal default. Whooops. Private investors own our schools. See the privatizing theme? I have documented and shared this with City Hall and School Board, to Attorney General Gansler and all of Maryland media. So, let them know this when they say—we didn’t see that economic crash coming!

    So, lot’s of education money and actual school buildings being lost in all these Wall Street leveraging school deals that all the candidates are ready to continue.

    What about quality teachers for Baltimore schools? Well, cuts for teachers, followed by stagnant wages for a few years, but wait….a 1% increase and renegotiated pensions because O’Malley/Brown threw teachers pensions to localities to balance state budgets. Is that commitment to education? Don’t worry. The plan is not to have teachers but Teach for America/VISTAs passing through schools. Now, use the and lose them is the motto here and Baltimore schools are suffering under these policies. The people being placed into schools in this capacity hate it, the students hate it, the parents hate it yet Baltimore is ground zero for the Michelle Rhee nightmare. It is not only the underserved schools having to deal with this….it is what education privatizers see as an instruction model for goodness sake because after all, students will simply be using online lessons and will not need strong teachers in the classroom. See why BEC and Baltimore media will not allow me to speak?

    I could go on—–the education data is skewed and often found inaccurate. Administrators pressured to provide numbers that no one could. In Baltimore, we even see principals ‘donating’ thousands of dollars of their own money to support their schools because corporations do not pay taxes.

    What is important for all citizens of Maryland is that Baltimore is considered a template for school business models that end public education. Whether you are republican and conservative and like charters—-these will not be your friendly neighborhood charters….they will be national charter chains—–or from middle-class Baltimore County, this privatized school structure is coming to your neck of the woods. See why the Maryland State Education and Baltimore City education will not give a voice to parents on something as important as education—-it is all written by Bill Gates and Wall Street and neo-liberals are determined to roll it out!

    See what issues are important to the Maryland public? See how you will never hear this from simple questions like ‘how will you make sure funding is equal for everyone’. It is disappointing to have public media as captured as corporate media and the level of orchestration on education discussion is amazing in Maryland. Needless to say, Gansler, Brown, and Mizeur did not mention any of this and that is why they are given media attention….they are neo-liberals ready to move these policies forward.

    Please check my website…Citizens Oversight for more education issues and policies. Please take time to listen to parents and communities all across the country fighting this reforms and urban centers facing the brunt of it since they are the platform for this privatized structure. These privatized policies will affect 90% of families and children. Only 10% of children need access to liberal arts/humanities based democratic education say these Race to the Top education reforming- neo-liberals!

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