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Notes from BMORE's Meeting with the CEO and CAO

On 5/23/18, Steering Committee members of BMORE met with Dr. Sonja Santelises and Dr. Sean Conley, to discuss a variety of topics. We strive to be a transparent organization that informs its membership of its actions, and not just to gain access to power via backroom deals. As such, we've reformatted and organized our notes from the meeting to share publicly.

Overview of the curriculum review rationale and findings:

  • One of the most striking finding of current materials: when matched the content areas, for African Americans in particular, was the preponderance of history was negative and challenged history – more slavery, Civil War, lynching, but not the Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, etc; had not qualitatively looked at what that representation had looked like.

  • Also, emphasized, the need for consistency from school to school, especially because of the great mobility of our students, moving from one school to another, etc.180 schools, not everybody is a charter, and even then everyone is subject to these changes and shifts.

  • Great Minds/Wit and Wisdom feedback from surveys is educators like the alignment across grades and thought it was rigorous.

  • EL feedback: Teachers really love the K-2 play component.

  • BMORE requested that the feedback the district received be shared publicly prior to the vote.

Creating a New History of Baltimore Unit:

The district always knew they would need to build out from the backbone curriculum chosen; so, for example, a history of Baltimore unit common across the district in the middle grades.

  • The Middle Grades piece is just getting started, and it’s not rushed. No definitive deadline thus far. The WHEN or WHAT pieces aren’t yet decided.

  • There are summer programs lined up with MS students, so we can begin to make adjustments and further its design.

  • The intent is to get it out there, test it, then get it designed and built-out with real schools signing-up and testing it further.

  • Called “The Identity Project”, larger than just race

  • Unit would be about 6-8 weeks long

  • Looking to build-out for early adolescence students - in how they see themselves in Baltimore – get at identity formation occurring during early adolescence, and grounding it in content, still promoting standards but grounded in what they know and experience, creating an opportunity to engage in choice in their research and what they want to present.