Monday, October 27, 2014

Kyle Garrison Prepares Kids for Success On and Off the Court

In addition to working as a paraeducator at City Springs Elementary/Middle School and coaching the City Springs basketball team, Kyle Garrison serves as Director of the Baltimore Lil Dribblers Basketball League (LDBL).

LDBL, which was founded by Rob Moore in Wilmington, Delaware, prepares boys and girls ages 3-12 for success on and off the court. The program teaches basketball skills, science, and reading comprehension.

"During a recent door-knocking event in Douglass Homes, one of the Grandmas we met asked us to let Coach Garrison know how much they appreciate his support for the community," said BCP Executive Vice President Larry Schugam.

"Every week last summer Coach Garrison spent time in the neighborhood teaching kids to play basketball."

We would like to thank Coach Garrison for everything he does for our students at City Springs.

For more information about the Baltimore LDBL visit:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BCP Schools Rally for Community Schools

City Springs Elementary/Middle School and Wolfe Street Academy joined hundreds of Baltimore area teachers, parents, and students in a rally for Community Schools at City Hall on October 21st. 

Baltimore Guide Covers "Cure for the Common Core" Forum

Photo by Stephen Babcock

The Baltimore Guide recently featured BCP's Leading Minds Forum - "The Cure for the Common Core" - at Loyola University Maryland on October 8, 2014. The event was organized by BCP and the Loyola University Maryland School of Education. Sponsors included Baltimore's Child, Congressional Bank, Heaven 600, Chesapeake Employers Insurance, McGraw-Hill Education, and MECU of Baltimore Inc.

We would like to thank the Baltimore Guide and Stephen Babcock for the wonderful article:

For a trio of education experts who addressed a forum at Loyola University Maryland last week, the debate over the Common Core standards comes down to jelly beans and tree frogs. 
In a recent study, students presented with a passage on jelly beans were able to easily comprehend it. Next, they were given a passage on tree frogs. Many of the same students struggled. 
The difference, according to Dr. Lisa Hansel of the Core Knowledge Foundation, was not necessarily the students’ reading abilities. Instead, it was the knowledge base they brought to the passage. 
“The only kids who could understand the passage on tree frogs were the ones who, somewhere in their young lives, had learned about tree frogs,” Hansel said. 
With the introduction of the Common Core standards in classrooms across the country this school year, debate in the education community has been centered around the difficulty of the tests that assess the students’ adherence to the standards, and the way the grades on those exams reflect on the teachers and schools. 
But the three panelists who spoke at Loyola University last week sought to address not the tests themselves, but what the students learn in the run-up to those tests. Titled “The Cure for the Common Core,” the speaking event was sponsored by the Baltimore Curriculum Project charter school network, which, in the southeast operates Wolfe Street Academy, Hampstead Hill Academy and City Springs Elementary/Middle School.

Read the full article at:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BCP President Laura Doherty Delivers Guest Keynote at 40th Annual National Direct Instruction Conference

BCP President Laura Doherty delivered the guest keynote address at the 40th Annual National Direct Instruction Conference this past July in Eugene, Oregon. This video includes Laura's keynote and the opening keynote by Zig Engelmann, the creator of Direct Instruction.

The National Direct Instruction Conference was founded in 1974 by Engelmann-Becker Corporation. Siegfried “Zig” Engelmann, Wes Becker, and other Direct Instruction authors wanted to create an event that would provide access to quality training for educators that otherwise might not receive training at all. That first year, 90 educators from mostly the Northwest gathered at Sheldon High School in Eugene. For the next several years, the conference continued to be housed in various high school buildings around Eugene. Attendance grew to about 200.

In 1981, two key events took place. The Association for Direct Instruction (ADI) was founded and the city of Eugene built a conference center adjacent to the Hilton Hotel in the downtown area. Along with moving the conference to a professional facility, the conference expanded from four to five days and a greater variety of sessions were incorporated. Over the decades, attendance has reached as many as 750 participants literally from around the world.

Last year, the Association for Direct Instruction ceased operations and this 40th Anniversary marks the first year of management of the conference by the National Institute for Direct Instruction (NIFDI).

The National Direct Instruction Conference and Institutes is the largest and longest running DI specific training, and remains true to its traditions:The most comprehensive offering of Direct Instruction training and information available—anywhere!

For more information about the National Institute for Direct Instruction visit:

BCP Does Cha Cha Slide at CFC Kick-Off

BCP's Larry Schugam does Cha Cha Slide
with SSA's CFC Coordinators
Tobi Morris and Larry Schugam had a wonderful time representing the Baltimore Curriculum Project at yesterday's Social Security Administration Combined Federal Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony and Charity Fair.

The event included a welcome by Stacy Rodgers (Senior Advisor, SSA Office of the Commissioner), remarks by Carolyn W. Colvin (Acting Commissioner of Social Security), and a keynote by Col. Jeremy Martin (Commandant, United States Defense Information School at Fort Meade, MD).

Col. Martin, who also serves as the Chesapeake Bay Area CFC Chair, praised federal employees for their generosity and resiliency. Last year, despite government furloughs and a complete government shutdown, the Chesapeake Bay Area Campaign raised over six million dollars for CFC charities. This was the third highest total of all CFC regions in the United States.

The Charity Fair featured a host of nonprofit organizations, a raffle, karaoke, line dancing, and nachos.

"This was by far the most fun I've ever had at a charity campaign kick-off!" said Mr. Schugam.

"Where else can you get to talk with nice people about your nonprofit's work and do the Cha-Cha Slide."

We would like to thank the Social Security Administration and the Chesapeake Bay Area CFC for including the Baltimore Curriculum Project in their kick-off.

If you would like to donate to the Baltimore Curriculum Project through the CFC, our code is 26288.

About the Combined Federal Campaign

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the only authorized solicitation of Federal employees in their workplace on behalf of approved charitable organizations. The CFC coordinates the fund-raising effort of various charitable organizations so that the federal donor would only be solicited once, annually, in the workplace and have the opportunity to make charitable contributions through payroll deduction.

Federal employees continue to make the CFC the largest and most successful workplace philanthropic fundraiser in the world.

To learn more visit:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Do We Think We Know About Homework?

*That it encourages good work habits?
*That it increases achievement?
*That it keeps kids out of trouble?
*That it signals a good school and good teaching?
* Parents expect it?
*The school district expects it?

What Does The Research Tell Us? 

“Research on homework practices is an inexact science given the many variables including definitions of homework, socio-economic demographics, amount and type of home support, and standardized versus classroom assessments results to name but a few.” [1].

“The research has produced mixed results so far” is what The Center for Public Education tells us in a 2007 article entitled What Research Says About the Value of Homework: At a Glance. [2]

If we pay attention to the critics of homework, such as Alfie Kohn in his aggressive and polemical “The Homework Myth”, we would abandon homework immediately. His view is that homework is positively damaging and antithetical to good educational practice. [3]

However, the research suggests we should be careful about adopting an “either for it or against it”
attitude.  Here is what we know:

  • The link between homework and achievement is unproven: it varies across ages, grade levels, prior achievement, social conditions and amounts
  • Older students appear to show more consistent benefits: this may be related to the lower level of study habits in younger students.
  • Income levels often dictate homework success: this is in some ways obvious but easy to forget. Parents with college educations, good incomes, stable family life, good home conditions and time are better able to encourage good homework habits.
  • Special education students need greater levels of supervision, monitoring, and more preparation so that the tasks are appropriate.
  • Homework might well have more benefit in non-academic spheres: developing responsibility, study habits, reliability and consistency, for example, may all be positive side-effects.
  • More time might equal worse results!
  • Homework completion is more important than the volume assigned in the first place. Teachers often do not adequately plan for the time it will take to complete a homework assignment.
  • After school programs show little evidence of directly improving academic results but they may improve the work habits of students and that can indirectly have an impact on achievement.
  • Parent involvement impact is uncertain.
  • The purpose for which homework is given seems, at present, to have little impact on achievement. Many teacher sue homework to extend a lesson; some use it to add a new piece to the learning, some to reinforce what happened in class.

One overall conclusion that is less research based and more experience based is that teachers spend too little time planning for homework, assessing it and thinking about how to incorporate it into daily and longer term goals. This might lead us to ask whether teachers really do believe in the efficacy of homework or whether assignment homework is one of those parts of education practice that we do because it was done in the past. It seems clear form the murky nature of the research results that we could benefit from doing much more school based assessment of the benefits of homework, how it is constructed and planned, and how it is factored into the overall achievement of students across grade levels.

Some things to think about:

  1. How do we provide homework assignments that are meaningful? Do we know why we assign anything at all in the first place?
  2. What kind of school-based research would be helpful?
  3. What do we need to hear from parents about homework?
  4. Do we have ways to analyze what works and what does not?
  5. Do we have any evidence that homework improves either achievement or work habits?

Jon McGill
October 2014


  1. Herrig, Richard W. "Homework Research Gives Insight to Improving Teaching Practice," McGraw-Hill Education Glencoe Math White Papers,
  2. "What research says about the value of homework: At a glance," (2007 February)
  3. Kohn, Alfie. (2006) "The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing," Da Capo Press,

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Long Shadow

In 1982, Johns Hopkins University researchers Karl Alexander, Linda Olson and Doris Entwisle began tracking nearly 800 children from Baltimore, all of whom were entering first grade.  The overall focus, but not exclusively, was on children who were living in poverty.  The children were tracked for more than twenty years: they went through school, job searches, and many started families. The group was diverse but there was one thing, it seems, they had in common: all of them were affected one way or another by the chances they were offered in first grade, by the quality of education, by the circumstances that often were beyond the control or influence of schools.

What the research helped uncover was, to some extent, unremarkable, perhaps even predictable: more than half of the sample, for example, stayed poor if that’s where they started.  Those who had more middle, even upper class benefits, tended to do well. Few of the poor moved into middle class brackets, while even fewer of the better off fell into poverty. One of the really staggering statistics was that which highlighted the opportunities for poor children to graduate from college: only 4% of the sample actually got that far! In the meantime, by age 28, 45% of the better off subjects had their college degree.

The disparity on racial grounds was great: while 89% of white high school dropouts were working by age 22, only 40% of their black counterparts were in that category. When it came to gender equity, it seems that both black and white women earned less than white men.  However, in household income, white women did much better, not least because they were married or partnered with income earning men. Black women were much less likely to have access to stable relationships.  The teen birth rates among black and white women were roughly similar, and of course that dispels the mythology of teen pregnancy as an issue mainly for black women.

White men from better off circumstances had higher drug abuse issues than black men.  One area that was surprising was the close proximity of arrests and convictions, 41% for working class white men and 49% for black men from the same category.  According to the JHU newsletter HUB, one reason that white males can overcome this stigma more easily is that they have access to social networks not open to black males.

One of the long-prevailing platforms on which “American exceptionalism”” has stood for decades, even centuries, is that of “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps”, the notion that anyone can get anywhere in America.  While there are plenty of rags to riches stories to help solidify that belie, in the end, The Long Shadow tells us that social and economic mobility are far less frequent than we might like to think. Upward mobility, like racial equality, may be more myth than substance, more wishful thinking than actuality.

Karl Alexander will be at the Enoch Pratt Central Library on October 6th, at 6:30 P.M. to discuss his research. The Long Shadow was published by Russell Sage in April 2014.

Jon McGill

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Orioles and Living Classrooms Treat HHA Students to ALDS Game

We would like to thank the Baltimore Orioles and Living Classrooms Foundation for providing 150 tickets to Hampstead Hill Academy students for the American League Division Series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The Baltimore Orioles are inviting at-risk children to attend Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series through a program called the OriolesREACH Knothole Gang. Nearly 1,400 children will be experiencing the excitement of Postseason baseball from Sections 96 and 98 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, courtesy of the Orioles.

The OriolesREACH Knothole Gang pays homage to the International League Baltimore Orioles’ decision in 1930 to allow kids to see games at the old Oriole Park for free. The children were allowed in at no charge as part of a group dubbed the “Knothole Gang,” created when team management relented after years of children sneaking in (or “hooking in”) to the ballpark by tunneling under or climbing over the fence to watch games.