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Transforming the School System: Teachers Integral in Turnaround

Marietta English, head of the Baltimore City Teacher's Union, in a letter to the New York Times, reminds the paper of record and its readers that repairing a school system requires the input and dedication of teachers in the classroom.

Here's an excerpt:

"A Mission to Transform a City's Beaten Schools" (news article, Dec. 2) accurately portrays a school system that has made tremendous strides for its students and community. Test scores were already rising upon Dr. Andres Alonso's arrival in Baltimore in 2007, but he should be commended for his vision and accomplishments in transforming Baltimore's schools.

But smart, successful reform in Baltimore or anywhere else doesn't happen without the input and participation of the system's teachers and their union. Dr. Alonso partnered with the community and the Baltimore Teachers Union to achieve sweeping, even groundbreaking changes."

Read the entire response.

West Coast Reporter Discovers Baltimore's Charms

Slowly but surely, word is getting out that Baltimore is more than a compendium of competing images from "The Wire" and John Waters' films. The most recent convert is a journalist from the Bay Area Reporter who's spreading the good news -- Baltimore's got charm!

Here's an excerpt:

"It may not seem like it at first, but Baltimore known as "Charm City," among other nicknames does indeed have some charm to it.

There's more to the Maryland city, settled in the early 17th century, than the scenery that filmmaker John Waters made famous in camp favorites like Pink Flamingos and Hairspray .

Among the brick row houses and restaurants serving crab cakes, visitors can also find an art museum where a giant pink poodle is the star, and a cafe that celebrates women in beehives and leopard print jackets."

Read the entire article here.

Locust Point Ranks as One of "Safest Big City Neighbs"

Locust Point made it onto WalletPop's list of the 29 safest big city neighborhoods in the country. The South Baltimore community came in No. 3.

Here's an excerpt:

"Using exclusive neighborhood crime data developed by Dr. Andrew Schiller's team at NeighborhoodScout.com, and based on FBI data from all 17,000 local law enforcement agencies, they crunched the numbers to reveal the safest neighborhoods in every major American city. As it turns out, some big cities contain neighborhoods that are among the safest of any place in the nation, hopefully breaking stereotypes."

Read the entire article.

Sauerkraut and Thanksgiving: A Baltimore Tradition

Baltimore natives don't bat an eyelash when a heaping bowl of sauerkraut is placed among other goodies on the Thanksgiving table. For transplants or visitors, however, the tangy side dish causes more than a few raised eyebrows. Ever wonder how the German staple became a Bmore tradition?

Here's an excerpt:

"Growing up, I had no idea that sauerkraut is not, to most Americans, a traditional Thanksgiving dish. It was always there, on the sideboard, as inevitable as turkey. That's part of the condition of being a kid: Your family, no matter the oddities or inconsistencies, still seems perfectly normal. Adulthood came late for me, because it was only five years ago when I learned that my family's sauerkraut could be considered weird, when the man who is now my husband spent his first holiday with us staring in puzzlement at the bowl of it.

I didn't know what to say that day to explain our tradition, but I've since done some research, and I now know where it comes from: Baltimore. Serving sauerkraut at Thanksgiving is an old tradition there, rooted in the homes of the city's German immigrants. In 1863, when Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, about a quarter of Baltimore's population was German. Sauerkraut was a given on their celebratory table..."

Read the entire article.

NY Post Writer Experiences Baltimore's Version of "Sideways"

It's not a roadtrip through California wine country, but it's just as good. Using Woodhall's Cabernet Franc as the launching point, a New Yorker has a surprisingly good weekend in Charm City.

Here's an excerpt:

"Then again, if I've learned anything from Baltimore over the years, it's that it is surprising. Known far and wide for many things that do not perhaps add up to a justifiable reason to run into its arms kooky icons like John Waters or as the setting for multiple David Simon projects, to name two there is the Baltimore the world sees, and then there is the city behind the image, just dying to be let out. Relaxed, modern, fun far more appealing than the pile-up of depressing commercialism down on the Inner Harbor. Also, because it is Baltimore, people are generally really friendly.

This Baltimore you don't just pass through on your way to somewhere else; this Baltimore you stick around and get to know better."

Read more about the trip here.

It's All Good in Harbor East

If you haven't been to Harbor East recently, then you've been missing out on the latest additions to one of Baltimore's most dynamic communities. The city's newest neighborhood continues to evolve and gain kudos for Baltimore.

Here's an excerpt:

"In the last six years, in the hands of the Baltimore-based H&S Properties Development Corporation, the area has sprouted towering condo, hotel and office buildings along with gleaming restaurants and shops, some of which possess a spiffed-up, cookie-cutter Mall of America feel.

Harbor East has proven such a draw that its borders have expanded far beyond what was first planned as an eight-block area, bumping up against neighboring Little Italy."

Read the entire article here.

City Schools and Social Services Team on Innovative New Program for Foster Children

Baltimore City Public Schools and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services have launched a new program in an effort to give foster children a modicum of stability.

Here's an excerpt:

"As children around Baltimore settle into the routine of the school year, the distinct minority who enter foster care will struggle to find stability. Often, as temporary placements shift and these youngsters are jostled from placement to placement, the instability that permeates their life also seeps into their school experience.

But a novel collaboration between the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (BCDSS) and Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) holds the promise of offering something to Baltimore foster children that is in wide variance across this country: the chance at educational stability."

Read the entire article.

Baltimore Ranked as 20th Smartest City in the U.S.

The Daily Beast is out with its second annual list of the nation's smartest cities. Baltimore came in at No. 20, a drop from the No. 10 spot, based on the site's newly refined criteria which replaced libraries per capita for last year's voter turnout.

Read the entire article here.

Marylander Ken Wood Digs Deep and Discovers That What Was Old is New Again

Maryland business owner Ken Wood has found new purpose and passion doing what he's done for years.

Watch the video:

Baltimore's Teacher's Union Belies Pervasive Stereotype of Educator's Unions

Time and again, teachers' unions have been cast as the villain in the battle to improve public education in the U.S. The new contract awaiting approval from members of the Baltimore Teacher's Union, helps undercut that stereotype and puts the city in the lead as an innovator of public education.

Here's an excerpt:

"Still, the narrative that education reformers and teachers unions are eternal and implacable enemies is a hardy one, and one that Washingtonians in particular may well believe after four years of pitched battle between Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the D.C. teachers union. The intensity of the local battle might blind them to the experience of cities where the school district and the union have jointly embraced a reform agenda, even including a version of merit pay. And yet, such an agreement -- an impossibility, if we are to believe the conventional narrative -- was reached just two weeks ago in the faraway city of Baltimore."

Read the entire op-ed here.

"Wire" creator David Simon gets MacArthur "genius" grant

Fans of HBO drama "The Wire" who thought the show is a work of genius now have proof.

David Simon, creator of the crime show set in Baltimore, received a $500,000 "genius" grant from the John D. and Catherin T. MacArthur Foundation. Simon was one of 23 recipients of the award, along with University of Chicago anthropologist Shannon Lee Dawdy and New York jazz pianist Jason Moran.

News of the award was covered beyond Baltimore. The Los Angeles Times interviewed Simon to see what he plans to do with the money.

York, Pa., newspaper shines spotlight on Baltimore art show

A graduate of the Maryland Institute of Art is hosting a new exhibit at his Remington art gallery Open Space. Titled "Liberty B," the show features the work of six international artists.

The show and gallery owner Neil Reinalda are featured in the York Daily Record, a newspaper in Reinalda's hometown of York, Pa. Reinalda tells the newspaper that Baltimore has a "'strong cultural scene for a city of its size.'"

You can read the article here.

Baltimore Book Festival gets a nod in San Francisco

We knew the Baltimore Book Festival is popular among Charm City residents, but who knew that word of the event went as far as San Francisco.

The San Francisco Examiner featured an article on the event and its "celebrity authors."

The Baltimore Book Festival took place in Mount Vernon Sept. 24-26 and featured Holly Robinson Peete, Jesse Ventura and Michele Norris.

LA Times takes note of Baltimore's Frank Zappa day

OK fine, fer sure, fer sure.

Seventeen years after his death, Frank Zappa is making headlines in Baltimore and beyond. Baltimore, where the rocker was born, celebrated Frank Zappa Day Sept. 19 in a ceremony in Highlandtown, the Los Angeles times notes. The festivities included music from Zappa tribute band Zappa Plays Zappa, featuring the late musician's son Dweezil.

The city erected a bust honoring Zappa, known for songs like "Valley Girl," which embodied the Southern California teen spirit during the early 1980s. The ceremony included Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Zappa's widow Gail.

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