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NEWS
By Liz Bowie and Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF | July 30, 2001
In her first week as principal of City Springs Elementary in 1995, Bernice Whelchel knew it was time for drastic measures. Children ran wildly through the halls. The entire third grade had failed the state reading test. Many teachers had given up on the kids, nearly all of whom were poor. Desperate, Whelchel decided to try Direct Instruction, an unorthodox, highly structured curriculum used successfully in other cities but criticized as taking the creativity out of learning. At a time when the school system was at a recent low, Direct Instruction offered a return to basics and a chance to turn around poor schools like City Springs and improve more affluent ones such as Roland Park.
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NEWS
September 28, 2006
It's often hard to keep politics out of decision-making on education. But when it came to selecting reading curriculums as part of a No Child Left Behind literacy program, some Department of Education officials didn't even try. A report released last week by the Department's inspector general shows that the reading improvement program has been shamefully mired in favoritism and conflicts of interest. Department officials need to clean up the mess as quickly as possible. The Reading First program aims to help first-, second- and third-graders read better as a way to boost broader academic success.
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NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | August 25, 1999
Direct Instruction, Baltimore's experiment in scripted, no-nonsense education, is beginning to show signs of success in reading instruction after three frustrating years of test results.Although not all of the program's 17 city schools showed progress in this spring's Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, five of the six schools in Direct Instruction from the beginning had something to brag about."We wanted five years ideally to show what we could do, but we wanted to show something after three," said Muriel Berkeley, board president of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, which coordinates the program.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | July 11, 2004
MYSTERY solved. For seven minutes after he was informed a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, President Bush read aloud a simple children's story about a pet goat who thwarts a car robbery. Those who instantly recognized what the president was reciting to a class of Sarasota, Fla., second-graders were the educators at 17 Baltimore City schools and hundreds more across the country who teach reading and math in a program called Direct Instruction. my pet goat, which Bush found so compelling that he had to be dragged away to confront a major national emergency, is Lesson 60 in a textbook series called Reading Mastery.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | October 11, 1998
BESS ALTWERGER, a professor of elementary education at Towson University, is one of The Sun's harshest critics."Gotcha!" she said in effect in a letter to the editor yesterday.She had noticed the story in the Oct. 10 edition summing up the newspaper's yearlong comparison of reading instruction at two Baltimore elementary schools -- one with a phonics-oriented program known as Direct Instruction, the other with an approach that we could charitably call "eclectic."Turns out that at the end of the school year, first-graders at City Springs, the Direct Instruction school, and Lyndhurst Elementary, the hodgepodge, tested near the bottom in reading, six months below grade level (that is, two-thirds of a school year below)
NEWS
By MIKE BOWLER and MIKE BOWLER,SUN STAFF | May 30, 1999
IN SMALL GROUPS of two, three, four and five, they clustered around the microphone, clutching their books as though a bird were about to swoop down and fly away with them.It was billed as the Second Annual City Springs Elementary School Readabration, and Thursday afternoon the kids at Caroline and Lombard in East Baltimore strutted the stuff of reading.Kindergartners read "The Cowboys Have a Jumping Meet." First-graders intoned "The Bug Wants to Stay in the Ball." And it went on up the line to fifth-graders reading poetry and "The Wizard of Oz."
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | February 13, 2002
Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, visited one of Baltimore's improving elementary schools yesterday to spread congratulations and promote Direct Instruction, the curriculum credited with bolstering the school's test scores. Cheney paid a morning call on City Springs Elementary, fielding questions at an assembly and then visiting first-grade reading and fifth-grade history classes. Teachers at the East Baltimore school, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, tried to carry on a normal schedule as Cheney and aides, reporters, city school officials and Secret Service agents marched through the school.
NEWS
By Erika Niedowski and Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF | February 2, 2001
The fledgling, for-profit company poised to manage Baltimore's Westport Elementary and Middle School in the fall says the company's small size will allow its administrators to give more personal attention to improving the achievement of struggling students. "We have both a business plan and a philosophy that we really want to focus on slow growth, making quality schools," said Margaret R. Harrington, chief operating officer for New York-based Victory Schools Inc., which opened the first of its three schools in 1999.
NEWS
September 28, 2006
It's often hard to keep politics out of decision-making on education. But when it came to selecting reading curriculums as part of a No Child Left Behind literacy program, some Department of Education officials didn't even try. A report released last week by the Department's inspector general shows that the reading improvement program has been shamefully mired in favoritism and conflicts of interest. Department officials need to clean up the mess as quickly as possible. The Reading First program aims to help first-, second- and third-graders read better as a way to boost broader academic success.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | July 11, 2004
MYSTERY solved. For seven minutes after he was informed a second plane had crashed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, President Bush read aloud a simple children's story about a pet goat who thwarts a car robbery. Those who instantly recognized what the president was reciting to a class of Sarasota, Fla., second-graders were the educators at 17 Baltimore City schools and hundreds more across the country who teach reading and math in a program called Direct Instruction. my pet goat, which Bush found so compelling that he had to be dragged away to confront a major national emergency, is Lesson 60 in a textbook series called Reading Mastery.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | February 13, 2002
Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, visited one of Baltimore's improving elementary schools yesterday to spread congratulations and promote Direct Instruction, the curriculum credited with bolstering the school's test scores. Cheney paid a morning call on City Springs Elementary, fielding questions at an assembly and then visiting first-grade reading and fifth-grade history classes. Teachers at the East Baltimore school, in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, tried to carry on a normal schedule as Cheney and aides, reporters, city school officials and Secret Service agents marched through the school.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie and Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF | July 30, 2001
In her first week as principal of City Springs Elementary in 1995, Bernice Whelchel knew it was time for drastic measures. Children ran wildly through the halls. The entire third grade had failed the state reading test. Many teachers had given up on the kids, nearly all of whom were poor. Desperate, Whelchel decided to try Direct Instruction, an unorthodox, highly structured curriculum used successfully in other cities but criticized as taking the creativity out of learning. At a time when the school system was at a recent low, Direct Instruction offered a return to basics and a chance to turn around poor schools like City Springs and improve more affluent ones such as Roland Park.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | May 27, 2001
IN THE RECENT flurry of news about school testing locally and nationally, one accomplishment might have been missed, and it's worth noting: Direct Instruction passed the five-year test in Baltimore with flying colors. In the 1990s, when the highly scripted, phonics-based program began making waves in Baltimore, there were many doubters. Direct Instruction - DI, for short - went against the teaching practices recommended by much of the education establishment. It was considered too regimented.
NEWS
By Erika Niedowski and Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF | February 2, 2001
The fledgling, for-profit company poised to manage Baltimore's Westport Elementary and Middle School in the fall says the company's small size will allow its administrators to give more personal attention to improving the achievement of struggling students. "We have both a business plan and a philosophy that we really want to focus on slow growth, making quality schools," said Margaret R. Harrington, chief operating officer for New York-based Victory Schools Inc., which opened the first of its three schools in 1999.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | January 7, 2001
ASKED BY A Dallas Morning News reporter for his political views, Houston schools Superintendent Rod Paige said his Mississippi family had always been "yellow-dog Democrats." That meant they'd vote for a dog before they'd vote Republican, Paige said. "But the guys lynching us were Democrats, so I became a Republican." Now Paige, 67, has been nominated U.S. secretary of education, and his selection by President-elect George W. Bush is being praised - even by some of those yellow dogs. If he's confirmed - and there's little doubt he will be - Paige will be the first African-American and first school superintendent to be elevated to the Cabinet post.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | July 2, 2000
SQUIRMING ON one of those tiny children's school chairs, DeJuane Hicks is reading up a storm. It's only the fourth day of the Summer Academy at George Kelson Elementary School in Sandtown-Winchester, but DeJuane, 6, already knows his stuff, and he's eager to show off. He's reading a story from a book in the Direct Instruction curriculum, the reading program of choice in 18 Baltimore schools, most of them in the city's most distressed neighborhoods....
NEWS
October 18, 1998
Celebrity performances will launch business-sponsored reading programs at two city elementary schools this week.Actor James Earl Jones, recognized locally as the voice of Bell Atlantic commercials, will make the morning announcements and read Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are" tomorrow at City Springs Elementary.Company employee-volunteers will read books to students there each day this school year.On Tuesday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Crestar Bank's Maryland region president, Scott Wilfong, will be in the cast of a play adaptation of Pete Seeger's children's book, "Abiyoyo," at Gwynns Falls Elementary.
NEWS
By Debbie M. Price and Stephen Henderson and Debbie M. Price and Stephen Henderson,SUN STAFF | April 6, 1998
Every five lessons, City Springs first-grade teacher Harriet Brown tests her students. Do the children know that "ph" sounds like "f" and that "strip" is not "stripe?" Can they read the little story about the fox who tried to con a girl out of her ice cream cone?The school's reading program requires this regular measurement.At Lyndhurst Elementary, teacher Betty Pierce thinks she knows how well each of her first-graders can read, but it's just her educated guess, drawn from 30 years in the classroom.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | April 26, 2000
THE FILM IS CALLED "The Battle of City Springs," and it opens with a shot of a tattered American flag high above the elementary school at Caroline and Lombard streets in East Baltimore. That's appropriate. City Springs enrolls some of the poorest children in the city of Francis Scott Key and Fort McHenry. The documentary chronicles an academic year in the life of City Springs. It's a nine-month battle with an indecisive outcome. But when the dawn breaks and the smoke clears, the flag is still there.
NEWS
By Mike Bowler and Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF | October 10, 1999
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has riled the church-state separatists and pleased the school choice proponents with the nation's first statewide school voucher program.Armed with taxpayer-paid "scholarships" worth about $3,400 each, 57 pioneers in the program are getting a taste this fall of private and parochial education in four Roman Catholic schools and one Montessori school in this Gulf Coast city.Eighty students are using vouchers to transfer from two public schools rated "F" by the state testing program to other Pensacola public schools rated "C" or higher.
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