Teaching to Transform Baltimore

Teaching to Transform Baltimore

Stephanie A. Flores-Koulish (Loyola University Maryland, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3943-8.ch005

Abstract

In this chapter, the author highlights a case study from Baltimore, Maryland where one parent's classroom collaboration helped to educate over 100 fourth graders about how state government works. Specifically, the chapter details how the parent became inspired by her son's teacher's back-to-school night presentation, and how that led to their future collaboration on a social studies service learning unit. Social movement theory motivated the parent, while the students gained a deep, authentic understanding of the content as well as democratic advocacy skills as a result of this more meaningful teacher/parent collaboration.
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Essential Questions

  • Name 3-5 ways that teachers can demonstrate authenticity and trust with parents.

  • In what ways can teachers involve parents in the classroom beyond the traditional classroom organization jobs they typical perform? Be specific.

  • What community organizations are local to your area that might serve as potential future curricular resources?

The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place. -Marian Wright Edelman

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Context

As with other urban school districts, Baltimore’s schools are plagued by a variety of hurdles from a community with high concentrations of poverty to low test scores, racial isolation, frequent changes in school leadership, poor school facilities, funding challenges, and much more. At the same time, as with other urban school districts, there are also many students with promise waiting for their opportunity to break out and shine. In Baltimore City, Neil Armstrong Elementary/Middle School1 is unique in this larger urban school district. A kindergarten to grade 8 school with approximately 1,350 students, it stands out given the school’s demographic diversity with its significant middle class, white population. The three White teachers and White parent interviewed for this project all speak about the dedicated staff, administration, and parent community in this highly diverse school. The school has a variety of families from a range of socio-economic and racial backgrounds with varying levels of social capital from typical Baltimore City residents at the poverty line: some families being homeless to some families having parents who work in medicine, law, and/or academia. The two tables below contrast the differences between Neil Armstrong Elementary/Middle School’s student demographics and the rest of the school district.

Table 1.
Baltimore City Public Schools student demographics 2016-17

Baltimore City Public Schools. (July 6, 2017). City Schools at a Glance. Retrieved from http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/about/by_the_numbers.

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