BRACtion Nonsense

I’ve said on several occasions (like here and here) that the Dixon administration’s focus on BRAC is simply misguided if it is anything more than a stalking horse to snarf up federal BRAC impact dollars. She has announced a plan to woo military (for the reading impaired, I say again, military) families ignoring that Fort Meade is constructing sufficient housing to not only serve the newcomers but to pull nearly 1,000 families out of the civilian housing market. She has touted improvements to rapid transit, etc.

I would have a lot more respect for them if they were simply trotting out vaguely plausible schemes in an effort to get free money but sometimes I get the sinking feeling that significant portions of the administration are simply out of its depth.

Mayor Sheila Dixon informally presented these plans recently when Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and the state Cabinet subcommittee in charge of base realignment visited the city to assess what changes the city might need to lure in newcomers.

But at the presentation to the subcommittee yesterday, new city schools CEO Andres Alonso suggested that the plan focus more on improving city education. Among his suggestions: take advantage of the city’s underutilized charter schools as ways to entice new families, continue the creation of innovative schools and rethink the school curriculum to include more technical training.

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Let’s think this through for a moment. The City’s charter schools aren’t so much underutilized as they are scorned and abused by the BPS system. If that was a goal of Mr. Alonso he could have done this at any time, the BPS focused, instead on attempting to starve the charter schools of funds and then fighting a lengthy and expensive, and thankfully losing, court fight on the subject.

If innovative schools, innovative is eduspeak for gimmickry, are important why don’t they exist now? Ditto for technology training. [As a brief digression here I’d like to note this last idea is a pipe dream and having it trotted out speaks to Mr. Alonso’s disinterest in the subject. The key problem with technology training is that schools, unless they are affiliated with a business and do their hands on training on the shop, simply never have the money to buy equipment that is standard in the industry or instructors who are proficient on the equipment.]

What the citizens of Baltimore should ask Mr. Alonso is why does it take BRAC and the influx of a maximum of 2500 families to make him get off his butt and do these things?

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